Tag Archives: Australia v India

India crash and burn in Twenty20 tie

The Australia v India Twenty20 tie was a damp squib. India seem to have a bad jinx at the MCG! The summer started off for the Indians with a bad show at the MCG when they were horribly underprepared! The Indians were competitive with the World Champions right from that game onwards right through the summer. Last night, a fresh bunch of young(er) Indians came to the party. It was clear that they were also under-cooked. The result was an embarassing thud for the World Champions in this form of the game. The Australians walked all over India and snatched the KFC Twenty20 cup.

The Australians played better all-round cricket: The Indian fielding was good. But the Australians were just much better. The Indian bowling was steady. The Australian bowling was uncompromising. The Indian batsmen seemed drugged. The Australians looked sharp and ready.

The catch that Michael Clarke took to dismiss Harbhajan Singh was just top-drawer stuff! The runout of Sehwag from a sensational Michael Clarke throw from point was breathtaking. The Australians were agile. The Indians were asleep.

Once again, a series start shocker will, one hopes, jolt the Indian team from their collective slumber. If not, the rest of the series is going to turn out to be one long dreary night.

Harbhajan Singh will now know what it feels to be a Muthiah Muralidharan in this country. Singhs’ every move was booed and, like his off-spinning counterpart from the sub-continent, he smiled through it all. I suspect that he will need to endure this right through his career now. I am sure that, like his Sri Lankan counterpart, he will. People from that part of the world have been used to that sort of stuff anyway!

I am not sure why the organisers think that Twenty20 cricket needs the noise, fireworks, cheer-leaders and rock concerts for the game to be popularised! But that is where this game is going the world over. There was an over when Sree Santh was bowling when music blared even as the bowler was running in. Is this really necessary for cricket to survive? I am just not sure. The fielders and batsmen could barely hear themselves amisdt this cacophony. Michael Clarke had to whistle to be heard by his fielders. This just seemed to me to be an assault on the senses. But maybe I am alone in feeling thus.

The Indians were routed. They have only themselves to blame. Once the Indians had lost 5 for almost nothing, there was going to be only one result in this game!

Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Rohit Sharma and Dinesh Karthik looked horribly under done. Neither of these guys have had a decent hit out there in the middle in Australia. All of them were back in the hut for not much. To compund matters, they did not either understand or respect the conditions enough. Virender Sehwag, who appeared to middle three balls perfectly, was out to brilliant run out. The result was, therefore, not surprising.

M. S. Dhoni said in his post-match interview that the batsmen forgot their roles. And he was right. But like their more senior and more illustrious counterparts before them, these batsmen will have also realised the importance of spending time out in the middle. The BCCI ought to have organised a practice game or two prior to the commencement of official proceedings last night.

— Mohan

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An animated cartoon on Monkeygate…

Peter Nicholson, the cartoonist for The Australian has recently created an animated cartoon on Monkeygate.

Quite creative…

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— Mohan

Sold-out Twenty20 bash comes to Melbourne…

Nearly 85,000 people are expected to zero-in on the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) to watch World Champions, India, take on Australia in the Twenty20 game. The game is expected to be sold out. The game is also expected to stretch the policing!

In the wake of the letting off of Harbhajan Singh in the Monkeygate saga, following an appeals process in Adelaide, upset Australian fans are reported to be ready to show their displeasure at the MCG! Yesterday, there were reports of a wave of text messages urging a show of protest against Singh and his Indian teammates. These reports were denied by police.

Ricky Ponting and Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland have appealed for calm from their fans.

Ricky Ponting said, “I think we have to be really careful, and I basically say this to the fans now that are coming tomorrow, that they should approach turning up tomorrow the way we would want to be received when we tour any other country around the world.”

James Sutherland said, “We warn people that if they are going to come along and ruin other people’s fun and they think that that is good fun themselves, they may well have a short night,”

There are a few confusing things about the Monkeygate appeals process that need to be ironed out. The fact that there was an ICC bungle in presenting Harbhajan Singh’s priors would have merely changed the sentencing, not the verdict. When possibly surrounded by the general mist of anger, disgust and disappointment, it is important that we understand that essential difference between the verdict and the sentencing that emanates from it. Harbhajan Singh is innocent and to continue to gun for him or his mother or a squeaky-voiced TV reporter in his town is just immature stupidity. The sentencing may have been different. But the verdict would remain.

In the eyes of the court, the man is innocent.

Let us just get on with it.

Having said that, I do believe that the Indians are going to cop it big time today at the MCG. I do hope the fans behave themselves, for the sake of cricket. This has already been an angst-ridden summer already and crowd nonsense would just make it worse than it already has been.

I also hope that the game is a winner in the end — I never thought I would use that cliche ever, but there, I said it! The environment of mistrust, angst and misunderstandings has prevailed for a long time now. It is time to put it to bed and concentrate on the cricket instead.

The two teams are likely to be:

Australia:
Michael Clarke
Adam Gilchrist (!)
Ricky Ponting (*) / David Hussey
Brad Hodge
Andrew Symonds
Michael Hussey
Adam Voges
James Hopes
Brett Lee
Ashley Noffke
Nathan Bracken / Ben Hilfenhaus

India:
Gautam Gambhir
Virender Sehwag
Rohit Sharma / Dinesh Karthik / Suresh Raina
Sachin Tendulkar / Manoj Tiwary / Yuvraj Singh
MS Dhoni (!*)
Robin Uthappa
Irfan Pathan
Praveen Kumar
Harbhajan Singh / Piyush Chawla
Sreesanth
Ishant Sharma / Munaf Patel

In my view, Australia are a better batting side for this game. With Yuvraj Singh possibly absent through injury, it may be that Sachin Tendulkar plays, although a report in the Times of India indicates that it is unlikely that he will play! If the Indian openers get off to a good start, the pressure will be on Adam Voges and James Hopes to perform with the ball and this is where, I feel, Team India may have an advantage.

I am glad that Praveen Kumar has been retained in the side. Players like him, Irfan Pathan, Joginder Sharma, Abhishek Nayar, et al will be crucial in the development of a well-balanced future T20/ODI side.

In all of the noise surrounding Monkeygate, there is one point that has missed the radar. I do believe that, of all the crazy selection decisions we have seen in recent times, the choice of Munaf Patel as cover for R. P. Singh is a total nonsense and makes a mockery of the “better fielding” dogma that M. S. Dhoni and the Indian selectors have been talking to in the context of Twenty20 and ODI team selections!

Having said that, the Indian fielding team is a good one. Uthappa, Tiwary, Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik, Suresh Raina, et al will give off good fielding displays and will also paint a future Team-India picture sans the Big Five.

Let us look forward to a good game.

— Mohan

Harbhajan Singh’s mother in Peter Lalor’s frame…

In this article in yesterday’s Australian newspaper, Peter Lalor, our good friend from The Australian, takes aim at Harbhajan Singh’s mother and squeaky-voiced Indian TV reporters!

My conclusion after reading Peter Lalor’s recent articles is that he is somewhat upset by Justice Hansen’s ruling. Maybe he has a dislike for anyone that plays the game like the Australians do.

What did Harbhajan Singh do? He stood up to an Australian player.

In my view, that is precisely why Sourav Ganguly, Arjuna Ranatunga, Harbhajan Singh, Sree Santh, et al, are disliked here in Australia. They play the game tough. They give it to the Australians as Australians themselves do to them. I do believe Australians need to get used to this new breed of cricketer from the sub-continent. They are not going to take things lying down — as they have, over the years!

One could mount the argument that Harbhajan Singh was a placid person on the pitch playing his cricket until he ears got pinned by a needlessly ugly behaviour on the field.

Let us not forget that Harbhajan Singh was actually trying to encourage his opponent, Brett Lee, with a “well bowled” comment, when his head got snapped off by the churlish Andrew Symonds. Symonds said that he had an objection to Harbhajan Singh saying some encouraging words to one of the Australians. Symonds said, “my objection was that a test match is no place to be friendly with an opposition player.”

Justice Hansen admonished Symonds’ behaviour and said, “If that is his view I hope it is not one shared by all international cricketers. It would be a sad day for cricket if it is.”

Indeed.

Was Harbhajan Singh provoked? Well, Justice Hansen seemed to think so. Was he right to mouth off back at Symonds in the manner he did? No. And he got slapped a fine for the lesser Level 2.8 offence which refers to “obscene, offensive or seriously insulting language”.

The facts are that both Andrew Symonds and Michael Clarke accept that Harbhajan Singh said something in his native toungue that they did not understand. Both of them admit that Singh said something that sounded like “big monkey”. In fact, the transcript of Michael Clarke’s statement, in Mike Proctor’s original hearing, indicates that he heard things being said that he did not hear or comprehend which he referred to as “something something something”. And then he heard the words “big monkey”.

The fact is that Andrew Symonds himself accepted that Sachin Tendulkar of all the participants was closest to Harbhajan Singh during the course of the heated exchange. Tendulkar said that he heard the heated exchange that included swearing between the two main subjects, initiated by Symonds. He also said that he did not hear the word “monkey” or “big monkey” but that he heard Harbhajan Singh use a term in his native tongue “teri maki” (pronounced with a “n”).

The judge needed to be sure that the allegations could indeed be upheld. If he was left with an “honest and reasonable uncertainty” then he should have ruled in favour of Harbhajan Singh.

The problem here was compounded by the fact that of the three Australian players that heard the words “big monkey”, none of them could recall any other words that were said by either party! Which is somewhat strange. Justice Hansen finds this a bit surprising and states, “This is a little surprising in the context where there was a reasonably prolonged heated exchange. Indeed Mr Clarke went so far as to say that he did not hear Mr Symonds say anything. Given Mr Symonds’ own acceptance that he initiated the exchange and was abusive towards Mr Singh, that is surprising. This failure to identify any other words could be because some of what they were hearing was not in English.”

The balance of probability indicates, therefore, that it is probable Harbhajan Singh did indeed use the words “teri maa(n) ki”.

Justice Hansen, in his findings criticises Andrew Symonds for provoking the incident.

The really interesting segment of the ruling is this one below (reproduced here):

Given that is the view of the complainant it is hard to see how the requisite elements of 3.3 could be satisfied. However, given it is an objective interpretation that is not the end of the matter. I must consider if the “ordinary person” would have been offended in a 3.3 sense. That again requires a look at context. Mr Singh had innocently, and in the tradition, of the game acknowledged the quality of Mr Lee’s bowling. That interchange had nothing to do with Mr Symonds but he determined to get involved and as a result was abusive towards Mr Singh. Mr Singh was, not surprisingly, abusive back. He accepts that his language was such as to be offensive under 2.8. But in my view even if he had used the words “alleged” an “ordinary person” standing in the shoes of Mr Symonds who had launched an unprovoked and unnecessary invective laden attack would not be offended or insulted or humiliated in terms of 3.3.

In other words, Justice Hansen seems to have said that even if Harbhajan Singh had used the words “big monkey”, at Andrew Symonds, given that the latter had “launched an unprovoked and unnecessary invective laden attack”, he would not be offended or insulted!

Perhaps I am reading this wrong!

Justice Hansen even accuses Symonds of breaching a handshake deal made when Harbhajan allegedly first called him a monkey in India.

Harbhajan Singh has a problem and this needs to be addressed. He is an ill-tempered hot-head and needs to be counselled.

At the same time, it would be wrong for Peter Lalor and the Australian media to ignore that Andrew Symonds has a problem too. And this needs addressing pronto. Symonds can’t sit on a pedestal placed at 35,000 ft above sea level and preach eloquently on appropriate forms of celebration (cf: Indian post-Twenty20 celebrations) and then carry on like a pork chop after his teams’ Sydney victory. And did anyone see his war-dance when he got Kumble out at Perth? How can this man talk about appropriate post-victory celebrations?

I didn’t see Peter Lalor rushing off to interview Symonds’ mum at that point in time! But he got some choice words out of Harbhajan Singhs’ mother and proceeded to pillory and mock it.

Did Harbhajan Singh’s mother say that she was relieved that her son had made a “derogatory remark about his opponent’s mother’s vagina” (as Peter Lalor writes in his blog)? No. She said, “I am very happy today. It is the victory of truth. I was anxious before the verdict came, but now I am more at peace. I knew God was with us and I had full faith that my son would come out clean.”

What is the “truth” that she talks about? The truth is that there is no evidence to suggest that her son is a racist. Period.

It is easy to mock. Anyone can invade the privacy of another person’s home, stick a mike under her nose, get some choice words out of her and then proceed to pillory the innocent subject who said what she did. To write responsibly and with empathy is not really hard. But it calls for courage. It calls for dignity. It calls for a code of ethics.

And on the topic of mockery. What is with this squeaky-voiced Indian TV reporter? What does a squeaky voice have to do with the price of fish anyway?

Let us stick to the facts please? Court rulings are based on fact, not allegations, anger and opinions. Did Harbhajan Singh say something racist? We will never know. The Kangaroo Court set up by Mike Proctor, a man not trained in things legal, decreed “beyond reasonable doubt” that Singh did villify. That was a wrong ruling — we all know that now. It was wrong because natural justice was not served. The man did not review all the evidence properly enough to be satisfied “beyond reasonable doubt”. And yet, he pronounced his ruling “beyond reasonable doubt”. That is a huge call to make. And it was made by a man that just did not know.

In any case, the initial ruling by Mike Proctor got thrown out. Thankfully natural justice was served. A proper court indicated that that initial ruling was a mistake. There simply wasn’t enough incontrovertible evidence to suggest that Harbhajan Singh did say what he was purported to have said. On the contrary, there was some evidence to suggest that, on the balance of probability, Harbhajan Singh did say something abusive in his native tongue, when provoked needlessly, that may have seemed to an untrained ear to have sounded like “monkey”.

End of story. Time for all of us to accept that and move on.

Monkeygate: The Harbhajan Singh Saga

Once again, the key actors in this sordid racism saga were involved in this latest episode. Cricket Australia, ICC, BCCI, Harbhajan Singh, Sachin Tendulkar, Andrew Symonds, Ricky Ponting, Matthew Hayden, the Press…

The scene had shifted to Adelaide. The posturing was somewhat different. Some were approaching it with equanimity. Some were just tired. Some were angry. Some were sang froid.

But, for the first time in this saga, we had a properly trained legal professional handling the case.

In the end, Harbhajan Singh was cleared of the racism charge.

But the BCCI looked like totally ugly school-yard bully when it chartered a plane to take its players back home if the appeals court did not find in Harbhajan Singh’s favour. Their ODI specialist players, like Suresh Raina, Piyush Chawla, Sree Santh, Praveen Kumar, et al, who had arrived in Melbourne, were whisked to Adelaide in a “show of solidarity”. A chartered plane lay waiting in Adelaide, its engine revved up, in the event that the appeal did not go in India’s favour!

I agree with Peter Roebuck that this stance by the BCCI was “abominable”. What is required all around is strong, ethical, responsible leadership. The BCCI controls more than 70% of the world games’ revenues. The power that comes with this territory has to be used in a responsible manner. I am afraid the BCCI has let India down, yet again, by posturing in the manner that it has. It is all a bit sad really.

The initial ruling in this case was by a Kangaroo Court and it was flawed. I could understand the Indian anger and the disappointment when Team India performed a “sit in” at its Sydney Hotel. However, this was a proper court that was in progress in Adelaide. It was presided by an independent person of honour and experience. To not show respect for the law and the courts and to threaten to take its bat and ball and go home in the event of an unsavoury ruling in Adelaide was, in my view, grotesque. The BCCI is in urgent need of effective leadership, I am afraid.

Everyone anywhere with half a brain knew — as night follows day — that the finding by John Hansen’s court was totally inevitable. It was inevitable that the Harbhajan Singh appeal would be successful. There just wasn’t enough proof to justify the “beyond reasonable doubt” pronouncement that Mike Proctor made originally.

The whole initial process that the ICC put in place to hear the case smacked of a naivety that does not show the organisation in good light. The ICC needs to toughen its stand on procedures such as this. The game deserves it. The ICC owes it to the game.

The ICC is painted in even more shocking light now. It has since emerged that Mike Proctor is believed to have pleaded with Malcolm Speed, the ICC Chief Executive, that the initial case be heard in a proper legal setting. Instead, we had a Kangaroo Court being presided by a man who was not trained in things legal. We had a strong pronouncement of justice when the evidence was shonky and when there was doubt. The man played the emotion card and not the rational card. He was not trained. The man was made to look silly. The ICC had dredged up and conjured yet another scapegoat.

Justifiably there is anger in the Australian camp. The Australian players were sure that Harbhajan Singh used the “monkey” word. Singh denied it. Both deserved a fair hearing. They got it. They just need to accept the ruling and move on.

Did Harbhajan Singh actually say what he did? We had a few readers on our blog who are sure that Harbhajan Singh said it. How are they sure when the court ruled that there was no tangible evidence that he said it! Paranoia even reached comical proportions when a few readers suggested that the news was broken in Indian nwes channels even before judgement was made!

In the end, it does not matter what you or I think may or may not have happened. A court of law had ruled. Those who do not like it, need to take a pill and move on. Opinions and paranoia do not count in a court of law. Facts do. Justice Hansen’s ruling states that on all the evidence submitted before him, “the charge of a Level 3.3 offence was not proven but that Harbhajan should be charged with a Level 2.8 offence instead.”

We can speculate till the cows come home on whether the word “monkey” was used. It will not change anything. We need to accept it and move on.

As Peter Roebuck says, “Court cases are about fact, not stories or opinions or allegations or interpretations or guesses. Once the microphones and umpires did not back up the charges, the case was doomed.

The pity is that this was doomed from the start. Given the ICC’s incompetence, the case has dragged on for this long.

In my own personal view, if something was indeed said, a head-kick-in by Anil Kumble after a strong word from Ricky Ponting would have had a much better effect than all this needless posturing. But that is all history and is currently irrelevant.

The Australian players are angry at the BCCI for flexing its muscles. One un-named player is reported to have said to The Age, “The thing that pisses us off is that it shows how much power India has. The Aussie guys aren’t going to make it (the accusation) up. The players are frustrated because this shows how much influence India has, because of the wealth they generate. Money talks.”

There is one way for the Australian players to show their collective anger and disgust at this ruling: they could tear up that lucrative IPL contract that the BCCI slapped on the desks of Australian players! That will teach them bullies!

That would be radical step by the Australian players — these fine, upstanding gentlemen who do everything the right way. That would be the ethical thing to do perhaps?

However, it is most likely that the Australian players, including the one that was reportedly “pissed off” will queue up and play in the IPL.

Money talks. Life goes on.

— Mohan

Gilly – Thanks for the memories…

I am stating the obvious here – Indians love their cricket. Cricket in India is not a sport – it is a religion. Actually it is a bit more than that – and that is what prompts extreme behaviour whether it is burning effigies or building shrines. They also love great cricketers, whether they play for India or the opposition – and one of the cricketers they will truly miss after this summer is Adam Craig Gilchrist.

“Gilly” is not only admired for his great stroke play and ability to change the game on its head, but also his sportsmanship. If you ask the Aussies, what they would like to see in a test against India, they would probably say a century for Tendulkar, but a victory for Australia. The Indians would probably say a quick fire fifty by Gilchrist and a win for India 🙂 (We generally don’t like to see a hundred from Gilchrist – it usually means Australia would win the game!)

We will surely miss you, when you leave the game, Gilly! Thanks for the memories…

-Mahesh-

Adelaide Test heading for a draw… Or is it?

Days 3 & 4 of this Test match have been a slow grind… At least for me.

Australia started day-3 on 82 for no loss. Australia’s intentions were made clear in the first half hour of play. It seemed that safety was the first priority. The Australians did not want to lose to India and would do everything it could to shut an Indian win out of the equation. Despite Matthew Hayden’s thunder at the post-day interview and despite the matching upper-cut from Virender Sehwag, I did feel that Australia could have gotten on with it if it wanted to. Australia did not want to. They have batteled negative bowling in the past and come out on top. Here, they just did not want to risk it. They dropped their aggression for defence. It was boring. But at the same time, it was a fascinating battle. There was nothing in the pitch. The bowlers toiled. And rewards did not come easily.

At lunch on day 4, Australia finished at 158-0. Although only 66 runs were scored, this was clearly an Australian session this. The SBS Score was Australia, 4.0 :: India, 3.0

The second session of day-3 saw what was probably the ball of the series. Young Ishant Sharma who has impressed with each spell bowled a beauty to clean-bowl a set Matthew Hayden who had moved on to a well-made century. Hayden was missed in Perth and here, he showed why. He steadied the innings and gave it a stability that was absent in Perth. Before he got out though, Phil Jaques was out, bowled to a slog-sweep-swish off Anil Kumble.

After the loss of those two wickets, there was an interesting passage in play with Harbhajan Singh attacking Ricky Ponting. When Ponting walked in to bat, Anil Kumble had Harbhajan Singh and Ishant Sharma bowling to the Australian captain. Smart captaincy. However, India was let down by a Harbhajan Singh who toiled in a lacklustre manner.

At tea on day-3, Australia ended on 225-2 off 78.0 overs with Ricky Ponting on 28 and Mike Hussey on 20. This was an even session in my books. The SBS Score was Australia, 4.5 :: India, 3.5

The new ball was delayed until after 107 overs and this was the point Matthew Hayden made when he referred to negative tactics! I am not sure I would agree with that! India was a pace bowler short and Kumble had exploited the reverse swing that Ishant Sharma and Irfan Pathan had been getting. The new ball was perhaps taken about 10 overs later than it could have been. But I do not believe that that necessarily pointed to negative tactics. Bad tactics, perhaps.

At the end of day-3, Australia had reached 322-3 in 111 overs. The over rate had been terrific. Australia could learn a thing or two from the India over rates! The game finished just 10 mins late, if my memory serves me right.

I score the last session in Australia’s favour too. The SBS Score was Australia, 5.0 :: India, 4.0

Day-4 started off with the announcement of Adam Gilchrists’ retirement. Much of the focus of the day was on that; something that Gilchrist did not want!

The fourth day was a bit of an up and down day for both teams. Ponting got to his century and so did Michael Clarke. India wrapped up the tail easily and Australia ended the innings with a lead

I scored the first session to Australia, the second session as even and the third session to India. Thereby the SBS Score at the end of the day was Australia, 6.5 :: India 5.5

Australia made 563 all out in 181.0 overs. This was grinding cricket by the World Champions. But they had effectively shut India out of the game! Now it was a question of whether India would survive. The game is heading for a draw. However, the Australian team can never be written off. They could pull a surprise here and if they do, it would be a fitting goodbye to Adam Gilchrist.

— Mohan