Well, the beautiful city of Sydney boasting of the third oldest cricket ground in the world with a backdrop of Fox studios now has the humiliating tag of one of cricket’s biggest controversies attached to it. That the final denouement was written in Adelaide does not dilute Sydney’s involvement as the staging arena for this incident which I guess will not be erased from cricket’s memories and will, in all probability, stay as one of the many black marks the game has endured like the body-line series and the match fixing controversy. To just blame Harbhajan or the Aussies would be unfair on both of them. As they say, you need to rub two stones together for fire. One just will not do.
There is a lot of history to the issue, beginning with Steve Waugh’s mental disintegration techniques. Although he himself held a lot of respect for the game and its traditions, his ideas and concepts have now been taken to more loathsome levels by less righteous cricketers like Ricky Ponting, Andrew Symonds and Michael Clarke. God save Australian cricket if Clarke is to become captain some day.
And the other end of the story. To say that Harbhajan Singh is entirely innocent of it would be like claiming the child did not wake up the neighbor’s dog by pelting stones at it. Singh has had a history of shooting his mouth off in the name of aggression. It used to be good when backed up with a performance like in 2001. Now it all comes to just blah, blah and more blah blah blah…
Eventually as someone pointed out in a column (the link to which I don’t have now), aggression is best shown in performances with the bat or the ball. No one talks to Sachin, Laxman, Ganguly or Rahul Dravid or even Sehwag when they are batting and they don’t have much to do verbally. Bowlers like Shaun Pollock, Courtney Walsh, Ambrose, Kapil Dev and even Anil Kumble have not been known to mouth off obscenities or even simple verbal taunts when they bowl. And these have been champion performers, each with more than 400 wickets to their name.
I guess as they say, empty vessels make more noise. An excellent article covering all angles, by Peter Roebuck
Couldn’t agree with him more. There has been mishandling at all levels right from Harbhajan shooting his mouth off, the Aussies tattling, all the way to the Indian board flexing its financial muscle! A video from a site.. Which however does not reveal what was said by Harbhajan. So the truth might never come out I guess.
At the other end of the spectrum, and ironically in the same series, was the sportsmanship shown by two of the best practitioners of the game known – Anil Kumble and Adam Gilchrist. Gilchrist removing his helmet and gloves and walking over to Kumble to congratulate him on his 600th wicket showed that there are still a few gentlemen left in the game. A player from the opponent team congratulating another player on his reaching a milestone or achieving a record is nothing new. What got purists and fans alike raving was the way he did it without his gloves or helmet on. It showed how much he respected the player’s achievement.
Equally refreshing for the game was the hug from Kumble to Gilchrist at the end of the Adelaide test. Although common in tennis, this is the first instance I have seen in cricket of players from opposite teams hugging each other on the field. Couldn’t find an image, so here’s the video: