Monday, January 7, 2008

Different Standards

The Indian cricket team suffered at the hands of an establishment which has repeatedly shown itself to have a separate set of standards for non-white teams. Here are some of them that immediately spring to mind:
  • The preposterous decision to just fine Mark Waugh and Shane Warne after their self-confessed encounters with bookmakers while banning Ajay Jadeja for a similar crime
  • The Mike Denness shocker, who incidentally shares his first name with Mike Proctor (the match referee for the Sydney test), where Indians players including Sachin and Sourav were fined and banned for 'ball tampering' and 'excessive appealing' without any complaints from the umpires themselves
  • Darryl Hair's accusing Pakistan of ball tampering and consequently calling off the test match when the offended Pak team walked off the ground
  • Muralitharan's elbow flex was deemed to be way over the prescribed 5 degrees and censure was imminent before the ICC found that many bowlers including Brett Lee had abnormally high flex angles. So they conveniently changed the rules to make it 15 degrees (Brett's was 11 degrees)
The most disturbing part of the Harbhajan episode seems to be how there was no 'evidence' whatsoever in the words of the match referee himself. Only one's word against another. Now who would you rather trust: the ultimate gentlemen of the game - Sachin and Kumble; or the guys who have been shown on live television how they lie and defraud - Symonds, Clarke and Ponting? These were the people presenting their respective sides of the story. Clearly Mike Proctor had already made up his mind. Especially after the public dressing down he received from ICC boss Malcolm Speed (another Aussie) for not penalising Yuvraj in the first test. The match referee then actually goes ahead and says he 'regretted' his decision. Meanwhile, Ponting did a la-Yuvi in Sydney and there has hardly been a mutter.

The harassing and haranguing of umpires is common practice with the Australians. McGrath and Warne were great exponents of this deplorable way of coercing decisions and influencing umpires. I don't entirely blame the umpires for their mistakes. They are also human as are the players. Batsmen and bowlers also make mistakes. But they can get dropped for repeated mistakes and they train hard to play each match. I can't see why the umpires should not do the same. Maybe take a few 'mental toughening' lessons too. It is obvious from the sheer number of decisions that have gone against visiting teams Down Under among their 'human' errors that they need a psychologist of some kind.

It was also very admirable of Kumble to conduct himself with so much dignity after the match(video). While many of us were screaming daylight robbery, he was busy telling Harsha Bhogle how certain 'things' went against the Indian team. And used a line which must be one of the biggest understatements of dispeasure -
"Only one team was playing with the spirit of the game, that's all I can say", while at the same time the Australians were rolling on the ground mocking Harbhajan. Not one Aussie cared to give credit to the Indian team for their spirit and fight in the only test of their last 16 that went into the penultimate over. I quote Peter Roebuck

Kumble trooped forlornly from the field and reached the boundary before any Australian thought to shake his hand.


Given the atmosphere of disillusionment in the Indian dressing room and the erosion of mutual trust and respect between the teams, I fail to see why the tour should be continued. If the ICC is calling Sachin a liar and Symonds an epitome of fair play and honesty, it is time the BCCI and the nation backed up our team when everyone else seems to be bent on breaking their courage to dare to stand up to the Aussies.

As Martin Williamson says on the Cricinfo Magazine:

Not walking is not cheating. Claiming a catch you know you have not caught cleanly is; the same goes for claiming a bat-pad catch when you know it was nowhere near the edge. The difference is that in one you are leaving the umpire to make his decision, in the other you are openly trying to deceive him.
Deception is clearly a trait the Australian team has mastered. Though one is not allowed to question its 'intergrity'.

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