Storm In A Teacup?

8 01 2008

Cricket in it’s purest form…When I was a child growing up in Australia, during the Summer my family would often holiday in a town on Victoria’s surf coast. Each day, inevitably the kids that were in the area holidaying would end up playing a game of cricket on one of the town’s ovals. Was a grand ol’ time, but I do remember one particular Summer when the bat, ball & wickets were supplied by one boy – we’ll call him Kendall – who when faced with a decision he disagreed with would on occasion threaten to take his bat & ball and go home.

It’s saddening that a hard-fought test match has brought the Cricket world to this point.

I’m hoping that saner minds prevail, but the Indian threat emanating from the BCCI (Board of Cricket Control in India) of pulling out of the Australian Tour amounts to nothing more than strong-arm tactics over the sovereignty of the sport’s governing body. 
At the moment I’m not really sure where the Indian tour stands, as media reports – each quoting their own representative from the Indian team – are confusing and conflicting.  Some stating that the BCCI  have given the ICC (cricket’s ruling body – the International Cricket Council) a 24 hour ultimatum – sack Steve Bucknor from the Perth test, and overturn the ruling on Harbhajan Singh.

The ICC has already rejected dismissing Bucknor, but it would seem that a collision between cricket’s sovereign body and one of the most powerful cricketing nations is imminent.  No-one wins from this, and cricket can only lose. 

It all stems from the decisions made during the 2nd test at the Sydney Cricket Ground by umpires Bucknor & Mark Benson… and the decision by match referee Mike Procter to institute a 3 match ban on Harbhajan Singh on the charge of racist misconduct. 
Bhajji - great player, a lil’ angry?Yes, the match was poorly adjudicated. But poor decisions went both ways – acknowledged, India did appear to draw the short straw as far as the amount of poor decisions. But that’s cricket. Sometimes it’ll go your way, sometimes it won’t.
The other issue was the Harbhajan Singh racism charge – where he is ‘alleged’ to have called Andrew Symonds (Australia’s only black player) a ‘monkey’. Match referee Mike Procter upheld the charge, and instituted a 3 match ban. Evidence was given from both sides, but Harbhajan’s history with Symonds came in to play (I believe), and Procter gave him 3 matches. I do feel that 3 was a little excessive, 1 would have achieved the desired result of making racist comments a no-go zone.

The match itself was a hard-fought, tough contest that was brilliant viewing down to the wire. I was riveted. It was only post game that it spiraled out of control… Ricky Ponting’s ill-advised aggressive approach to a question fielded by an Indian reporter… Kumble’s injudicious choice of phrasing… both have thrown fuel on a fire that may have very destructive consequences.

The public reaction has been astounding.  The media would have us believe that the vast majority of the public in Australia are against the Australian team, and Ricky Ponting.  This just isn’t so.  As a member of quite a few cricket sites, I am yet to see a strong reaction from Australians against Australia, whilst acknowledging that it was a match with ‘issues’.  Admittedly, on a number of those sites it’s gotten pretty ugly, with ‘visitors’ from other nations making accusations, and the base element within Australia reacting badly.  So much so that I’ve withdrawn from conversing (for the time being) from a lot of them.

Writers like Peter Roebuck thrive on controversy, and controversy sells newspapers.

Reactionary articles on ‘supposedly’ neutral cricket blogs have been nothing short of libelous. Charges of collusion between the umpires and the Australian team, ‘cheating’ and a total lack of reporting on either the Harbhajan Singh racism charge or the time-wasting that occurred at the end of the game reveal the bias that these sites so obviously have, and do nothing but fuel the problem.

Without a doubt, the game was tainted. But it was a taint that fell on both teams, not merely on one side or the other. Both teams have said/done things that in the heat of the moment seemed appropriate, but a cooler head might regret.  It’s a situation that has escalated beyond appropriate proportions.
At the end of all this, let’s hope that those cooler heads prevail and the tour goes on. If not, the ramifications could be terrible. 
Not just for the teams involved, but for cricket.

For the love of the game, please.

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9 responses

8 01 2008

on a number of those sites it’s gotten pretty ugly, with ‘visitors’ from other nations making accusations

Some of the bloggers from India are taking it to extremes. There are even references to the Haneef incident. Indians seem to have a giant chip on their shoulder. I suppose in Australia we just don’t appreciate how different life is over there. To many of them, cricket is probably one of the few outlets and pleasures. They’re none too happy though. But don’t try to rationalise with them – no chance.

8 01 2008

Ponting’s captiency is a real stupid thing, we have ever seen in the history of cricket. If he still continues as a international player, it will be a big shame to Australian team.

8 01 2008

//Indians seem to have a giant chip on their shoulder. I suppose in Australia we just don’t appreciate how different life is over there. To many of them, cricket is probably one of the few outlets and pleasures. They’re none too happy though. But don’t try to rationalise with them – no chance.//

Oy! That’s a rather sweeping comment!

8 01 2008

There you go, even when we try to understand you, you take offence! I didn’t mean to be patronising (I’ll leave that to Peter Roebuck, the ‘canemaster’) but it seems there’s nothing we can say about this without it getting under your skin. It seems our opinion is dismissed as “bias”, “blindness” and “racism”. Geeezus, grow up.

8 01 2008

Agreed Purnima… but I think that there runs the danger of this turning even more acrimonious than it is now. Sadly. And I think that’s what Ray’s pointing to.

Thomas – how so? Why is his ‘captaincy’ a “stupid thing”? What did he do that would make not only his continued captaining the team, but his very presence in the side a ‘big shame’?
Did you only recently become a cricketing fan? To make the above declaration is nothing short of befuddling…

8 01 2008

@Raydixon, honey who said I thought you were patronizing? I didn’t post my comment with serious sentiment. Grow up? ah my parents gave up on that one, long ago!

@Withmalice (not sure if I have to say this but thomas has been posting the same comment on every single blog – mine also – that had something to do with cricket. chances to get a sane answer will not be big.)

To get back. Aussies or Indians at this moment I give a rats ass about who acted stupid or who not. All I know it’s just a freakin’ game and both parties are way too old to fight it out this way and ruin a good season for us little people.

I do understand why you defend Raydixons comment, I disagree somewhat with the tone but am not offended. Well, not much that is. I didn’t post my comment with serious intentions but more in a lighten-up dude some of us out there are not that into cricket and do actually try to look at it from both sides – with a good dose of humor or skeptism.

What attracted me in this whole story is that it’s so irresponsible of both parties to let it get out of hand this way. (So much for a gentlemens sport, eh)
Boards are on fire and I can’t think of what will be going on in ‘the streets.’

Again, in the end it’s just a freakin’ game. To read over the top comments that claim that Aussies are like this or Indians are like this, instead of having both parties sort in out for themselves, was in the beginning a bit amusing but now and with the direction it’s taking it’s just… sad.

Didn’t plan to defend my comment. Sorry ’bout the lenght. Just didn’t want to start a flamewar here too! 😀

8 01 2008

While I didn’t get to see any of the game live (not a lot of cricket shown in Jakarta!!) I did follow it pretty closely via the net.
What did we learn from the game?
1) Never, ever walk because the next one might just go against you. Symonds was out, Punter was not, several of the Indian players were not – but next time it might just go the other way.
2) The level of abuse from both sides was pretty bad. No one could claim that the Australians are blameless in any of this.
3) It is unacceptable for any player to refer to another as a “monkey”. Claims by the Indian players that the term “monkey” doesn’t mean the same thing in India are misguided and disingenuous. Had Matthew Hayden referred to any of the Indian players by the same term then the international outcry would have been massive and Hayden would have been banned for 5 games, if not hounded out of international cricket.
4) Impartial umpires and match referee = good call.
5) Having said that, the standard of officiating was appalling and Bucknor should be dropped for the next game as he is horribly off the pace right now.
6) Indian have every right to appeal the suspension. Saying we’ll go home if it isn’t overturned is at best childish and at worst blackmailing the ICC.
7) If I learned nothing else as a kid I learned that you play hard and always accept the referee/umpire/officials decision as final. No one wants to play with the kid who takes his bat and ball home if he doesn’t like the decision. Somewhere along the line another kid gets a bat and ball for Christmas and the poor sports don’t get to play any more.
8) Forget evertyhting else – what an amazing test match this was. It’s just a shame that the best test match since the 3rd test in the 2005 Ashes series got lost in accusations and counter accusations and a media storm. There really isn’t anything like the drama of a test match that goes the distance.

8 01 2008

You’re more than welcome to post as lil’ or as much as you want Purnima!
Agreed, as stated in my next article (Storm In A Teacup), I think this has all been blown way, way out of proportion.
As you suggest, any comment that states that the actions of this or that particular sportsman (or even person) are representative of an entire nation is making gross generalizations.

8 01 2008

“There really isn’t anything like the drama of a test match that goes the distance.”

Indeed… especially one where the outcome was decided with but 8 minutes remaining! Glued to the TV!

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