As expected, the ICC has said that it is perfectly within the rules for cricket players to scratch their arm pits during any passage of play on the cricket field!
At the end of Sundays’ CB Series Finals game, that came at the end of a summer in which the Australians have been constantly beaten at their own mind games, The Sydney Morning Herald heralded new and hitherto unvisited depths of despair! The Australian media captured a photograph of Harbhajan Singh scratching his armpit and claimed that this was evidence enough that the feisty Sikh was making “monkey gestures”.
In doing so, the media in Australia merely demonstrated that, apart from the players — particularly the captain — who had already shown signs of getting there, it was possible for the media to mentally disintegrate too!
All of this emanated from the Australian media making a “mountain out of a molehill”. More precisely the Australian media caused a stink out of a Sikh’s public scratch by claiming that Harbhajan Singh imitated a one-handed monkey when he proceeded to scratch his right armpit!
To support such a wild and mildly obnoxious (Ooops! That word again!) claim, the smart investigative Australian reporters whipped up a photograph and thumped it on the desk of the ICC Match Referee. On close inspection, the photograph showed a cricketer — Harbhajan Singh — scratching his armpit! It may have been an ungainly scratch. And on Channel-9’s new and yet untested device, the scratchometer, that photograph did produce a bit of a stink! But apart from that there seemed to be nothing much wrong with that photograph!
But the reporters, the sub-editor and the entire editorial staff pressed on anyway in a gripping manner, straight from the Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein territory! Either that or they thought they were filming an episode of Seinfeld!
The reporters proceeded to get a few random statements from a few Australian fans in the crowd. Nice idea, and smart thinking 99! But these fans were hardly credible! They apparently wore T-shirts with the words “Monkey See… Monkey Do” emblazoned on them!
Don’t laugh! This is really serious!
This was getting way beyond Seinfeld territory by now!
What was worse, however, was that these comments were procured from Australian fans in Bay 29 who constantly hurled racist abuse at Harbhajan Singh himself — they admitted to this themselves! Some of these choice chants included “show us your knot” and “get a haircut” – both references to Harbhajan Singh’s Sikh roots. These chants were spitefully racist in nature! Yet, the Australian media bent over backwards to concoct a case of racism on the person who was seemingly at the receiving end!
I mean, if things had gotten any funnier, it would have been part of a Monty Python sketch!
Fortunately for most people around the world, the ICC ruled that it was perfectly legitimate, although perhaps a tad noisome, for human beings to scratch themselves when they itch! It is a custom that is practiced with annoying regularity in most parts of the world although it would seem that Australians — particularly Australian reporters and even more particularly, reporters from the Sydney Morning Herald — have somehow been exempt from this particularly distasteful habit. Perhaps this is in their job description — although, it would make an interesting case for any equal opportunities commissioner to see a Job Description Statement that showed up employers as scratchists!
Newspaper reporters in Australia were last seen scrambling all over themselves in a bid to beat a hasty path to Australian Quarantine officials to see if they could press with a legislation that banned public scratching.
Meanwhile, Cricket Australia has not issued any comment on the racist abuse hurled in the direction of Harbhajan Singh!