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Monday, January 07, 2008

Threats and recriminations abound in wake of Test

Harbhajan Singh's three match ban for making a racist comment has added to the bad blood resulting from the circumstances in which Australia won the Second Test, and the manner in which they celebrated their victory.

Yesterday I said that Anil Kumble and the Indian players had accepted their defeat gracefully. This was true only of the immediate aftermath of the game. The Indian media, as I mentioned yesterday, have led (or reflected) public opinion in their country to excoriate the umpires for incompetence (or worse), the Australians for cheating (or worse) and the ICC match referee Mike Procter for various things including buckling under the demands of the Australians.

In Australia there is, as exemplified by online polls and suchlike, a broader range of opinion with many, to their credit, prepared to criticise aspects of the conduct of Australian players.

At the moment there is some doubt as to whether the tour will continue. My guess is that it will: there is a sufficiently long break in the program to allow for some repair work, if only papering over a few cracks, to be done before the Perth Test begins on 16 January. How, and by whom this might be done I'm not sure, but reckon that the ICC needs to get involved pronto with the peak governing bodies of Australia and India.

Things are unfolding (not I hope unravelling) rapidly so for now I'll just link to some comments:

#Peter Roebuck in The Age
today "Rotten from first day to the last", which begins :

India has been dudded. No-one with the slightest enthusiasm for cricket will take the least satisfaction from the victory secured by the local team in an SCG Test match that entertained spectators at the ground, provided some excellent batting but left a sour taste in the mouth. It was a match that will have been relished only by rabid nationalists and others for whom victory and vengeance are the sole reasons for playing sport. Truth to tell the last day was as bad as the first. It was a rotten contest that singularly failed to elevate the spirit.

# Peter Lalor in The Australian's "A win, a hangover and a sense of dread" (with 212 comments as I post).

# ABC TV's 7.30 Report: including comments from

-Gideon Haigh:
"It's a shame that Australians, in the way that they play the game, aren't actually doing themselves many favours at the moment... someone calling someone else on the cricketing field a monkey that's like someone saying squashing an ant is murder. The confrontation on the field was extremely unedifying and I'm sick and tired of these kind of contrived aggressive, overbearing tactics from both sides.

- Malcolm Conn: the Australians are" not a bunch of cheats and anyone who calls them a bunch of cheats I think should really have a good think about what's considered cheating and what's not"

- Harsha Bogle, "
The moment you say, "Take my word for it", you're committing yourself to being honest in every sphere. Then you cannot say that I will appeal when a batsman is not out, but you take my word when I've taken a catch. See, you cannot be selectively moral."

The ABC's Jim Maxwell also appeared:

HEATHER EWART: Finally, who's right and who's wrong here in your view?

JIM MAXWELL: Well, there's always the grey area. The umpires are certainly in the wrong and they're the ones in the middle that may have caused a lot of the trouble. The players do need to understand that there are certain limits and they need to play within those. Almost everything they do on the field is going to be scrutinised. Unfortunately, it's the nature of the game with television getting in so close to it these days. But I just think they need to go a bit more quietly about what they're doing. Because the fact is Australia plays some of the best cricket of any team of all time. Just get on with playing the game and forget all the other nonsense, stop trying to bait people. If something goes wrong, deal it with it on the field, don't let it be carried on in another place because there'll be no end to it, as I say. The lawyers will love this.

R K Raghavan in The Hindu "Investigating cricket misconduct":

We initially believed that the controversy could hardly be resolved because it was a question of one man’s word against the other.

If Harbhajan’s conviction was based on the greater credibility of Symonds’s version of the incident, it is grossly unfair to him and a clear violation of the principles of natural justice, even conceding that Harbhajan was not facing a judicial enquiry.

#Cricinfo's The Surfer blog links to many other media comments from around the world.

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