In a stunning slap on the faces of Cricket Australia officials, Matthew Hayden, who called India’s Harbhajan Singh a “little obnoxious weed” in a radio interview, has maintained his innocence!
Australian opener, Matthew Hayden, was in hot waters after the spray he gave Harbhajan Singh. In the same radio interview the 37-year-old veteran of the game even invited an Indian player — almost half his age! — to the boxing ring for a fight.
The BCCI left the matter in the hands of Cricket Australia. Cricket Australia had to be seen to be doing something. So they hauled Matthew Hayden in front of a “code of conduct” hearing in Melbourne, after which commissioner, Ron Beazley, let Hayden off with a reprimand! One can only assume that Hayden was let off with a mere slap on the wrist because he pleaded guilty to the “code of conduct” charge!
But immediately after the hearing, Hayden waltzed out and said, “I maintain my innocence; my intentions were never to denigrate cricket or anyone. But in the spirit of cricket I respect and accept the decision”
If I was surprised by CA’s mild wrist-tap, I am simply stunned by Hayden’s response!
So, Hayden’s intentions were never to denigrate cricket or anyone! So, what were his intentions then? If it was an unintended slip or an error in judgment, one would have thought that an apology was in order! But no! He has come out and maintained his innocence!
Rule 9 of the Cricket Australia Code of Behaviour (see page-10), prohibits “Detrimental Public Comment”. The rule guidelines clearly prohibit public denigration of other players against whom they have played or are likely to play!
Does this mean that Australian players can run amok calling other-country players f***wits or dimwits or d**k-heads or mother-f*****s or “little obnoxious weeds” in radio interviews and get away with it? What has the cricket world come to?
This sets a dangerous precedent in world cricket — one that we could do without.
For his part, Harbhajan Singh was cheeky in his riposte. He asked innocently, “What’s the meaning of the word, please tell me,” and added, “Seriously, who’s Matthew Hayden?”
It is likely that Australian players are peeved that Harbhajan Singh got away with his monkey slur against Andrew Symonds. But there was no tangible evidence in that case! It had to be thrown out, despite the incompetence of Mike Proctor initially. Here there was incontrovertible evidence of a slur! Hayden was caught with his pants down, so to speak — perhaps they were even “Mad Boy” pants! And for him to maintain his “innocence” even after a wrist-slap only suggests, in my view, that the man has a deep-rooted contempt for process, decency and for the opposition!
If Hayden can be unrepentant in the face of such evidence, one can only imagine how vile he must be on the field. That is not to suggest that the Indians are innocent victims or that they are saints. They are, I am sure, giving it back as good as they get!
The Indian team management appear to be sick of all the trash talk they get from the Australians. They wrote as much to match referee Jeff Crowe after last Sunday’s CB Series match. In that letter the Indians claimed that they have tried to pull back from sledging during the ODI series. The letter said, “Even if we have tried to play in the spirit of the game, some of the players from the Australian side have made a few comments that has brought disharmony to the game.” This point that was reiterated by M. S. Dhoni in subsequent interviews.
Indian cricket board secretary Niranjan Shah said the sledging issue had become “out of hand and is going too far”..
This summer has seen its fair share of controversies between Australia and India. No tour has seen as many unsavory incidents as this one has! And there are no signs that things will abate or settle down! The Indians are going to get stuck into the Australians on Sunday. One can expect Sydney fans to get stuck into Harbhajan Singh. One can expect Indian fans buying tickets already for October so that they can get stuck into the Australians when the Aussies visit India!
Is this what we want cricket to be all about?
The shame in all of this is that the cricket has been at its very best! Sadly all of that is being forgotten by the trash talk and gutter filth.
Time to tape the players’ mouths and give them bats and balls to play with instead.