Let’s start by admiting that a black man being banned for three matches for calling a dark brown Australian man a monkey is pretty peculiar. Next will be Ricky Ponting being banned for calling an English player a pommy bastard. Couldn’t John Howard, cricket tragic and implacable warrior against political correctness that he was, have spent more time trying to nobble these sillly rules rather than the ABC?
But lets be clear why the Indians are upset. It is because they have been branded racists and it is part of the folklore that racism is a white thing. This has always been rubbish, especially in recent decades, with the excessive focus on racism in Australian sport. Ugly racial attitudes flourish when they are not denounced. And make no mistake my friends that across the length and breadth Asia, anti-white racism is not only tolerated but encouraged.
Many people may forget that senior Hong Kong politicians blamed the Jew George Soros for the Asian meltdown of 1997 and the HK treasurer followed up in parliament by advising that we should not let the gweilos (whites) know what we are planning by discussing their response in parliament. I heard no public criticism of these racial slurs at the time or since.
But back to the cricket. There are several red-herring issues that the Indian team and media have raised. The main ones are the process of Harbhajans ban, bad umpiring and Australian bad-sportsmanship on the field. Lets take them in turn.
Mike Proctor convicted Harbhajan on the testimony of three Australian players while not accepting contrary evidence from three Indian players. This is supposed to prove that he values the testimony of a white man higher than a black man.
Obviously we can not have a system where players are only convicted when they are dobbed in by their own team mates. If this were the case then there would be very few convictions indeed. In AFL, players are regularly convicted even when the victim denies there was an incident!
A system which tends to believe the complainant breaks down if charges are frivolously concocted. Is anyone seriously suggesting that the three Australian players made the whole incident up? The video footage seems to support their case, in as much as Harbhajan said something that he obviously regretted 10 seconds later. If the Australians did make the charge up, then I would hope they would be banned from all forms of cricket for life and face slander charges. But the notion they did make it up is..well fanciful.
Bad umpiring decisions.
And there were some shockers mainly from previously respected umpire Steve Bucknor, a black West Indian. The Statesman newspaper in India says that expecting fair treatment from Bucknor is like expecting Saddam to be just to the Kurds. The explicit claim then is that he is deliberately biased against India ethnicity. The evidence? According to the author of the silly Saddam simile, it is enough to look at history. The Indians do not like his decisions in the past. But wait theres more. Apparently several years ago God, I mean Tendulkar, was so annoyed by a decision that he told Bucknor to wear glasses. There you go. God has spoken.
We heard the same foul accusations against Daryl Hair for no-balling Murali and awarding a game against Pakistan for refusing to take the field. The ICC changed the rules for Murali who most people think has an unacceptable action. Hare may have handled these issues badly but he was not acting the way he did because he hates blacks. Nevertheless he was sacked and Steve Bucknor has been similarly sacrificed for short term expediency.Calling an umpire racist when you do not like his decision is itself racists, because you are focusing on the umpires race in order to explain his behaviour. Lleyton Hewitt found this out at a US open many years ago when he was playing a black opponent and having some trouble with the calls of a black linesman. Bad calls are bad calls. The race of the person making the call only occurs to people of a certain mindset. And many people in India seem to have this mindset.
Imagine, if you will, what would happen to an AFL club if they publicly abused an umpire in this manner. We are talking CEO sacking and point penalties I suspect. But the ICC are scared of the BCCI (Indian cricket board) because of the huge TV revenues involved.
Kumble says that his team is the only one playing (and losing) cricket. This phraseology is, I presume, a deliberate reference to the body-line series 80 years ago when Australia made the same claim, verbatim, against England.
Ponting had an agreement with Kumble that they would accept catches claimed by the opposing team. Ponting did not claim a catch off Dravid which may well have been allowed. I look forward to definitive video evidence that Clark did not catch Ganguly. There was no agreement concerning frivolous appealing or walking.
I have watched plenty of this series, including one day live, and I can not for the life of me see anything out of the ordinary. Teams have always frivolously appealed and I do not believe sub-continental teams offend less often. On the contrary.
Players hardly ever walk. Symonds was definitely out in the first innings and has admitted as much after the match. Ganguly did not walk when he was caught by Clark, despite having an agreement with the Australians that the Indians would accept claimed catches an agreement which he would certainly know about as a former captain and senior player.
Ponting looked upset when he was given out lbw to one that he thought he hit. In fact he did nick it so he was right to be upset and yet he did not dissent enough to be reported. Mike Proctor also let Yuvraj Singh off for dissent in the first test. Perhaps Proctor is too lenient on dissent but he is at least consistent.
And sledging? The only sledging serious enough to be reported was by Harbhajan.
The Indian fans and media get away with far too much. Does anybody remember the bottles thrown over the MCG fence by Indian fans when God, I mean Tendulkar, was given out lbw off his head? I cannot recall Aussie crowds doing the same thing. Perhaps I have selective memory. But what is sure is that if they did behave in this manner there would be a harsh response from the authorities.
Symonds was called a monkey on many occasions in India, especially by the crowd. Such would not be tolerated in Australia and the only recent such incident I recall was a few years ago where some black players were called kaffirs by some yobbos in the crowd. This is an Afrikaans word and the offenders were South Africans. This did not stop the Indian press reporting it as another example of Australian racial slurring. You see there is a market for this kind of thing in Asia.
Meanwhile, emboldened by their local media, the good folks of India are burning effigies of Ponting and Bucknor without apparent censure. You can hardly blame then when the Indian media call Ponting the fourth umpire, and Australians cry-babies for reporting the Harbhajan monkey comment.
At least that well known right wing racist rag, the Guardian, has called the Indian antics for what they are, grandstanding.
Unfortunately, the self loathing Australian press are too busy doing a mea-culpa for the crime of being boringly better than their opposition for 10 years (poms in 2005 excepted). The worst example is the idiotic Peter Roebuck, calling for Ponting to be sacked, partly based on the claim that Australians over-celebrated. It was a very close test and an amazing victory. If you think they were over-the-top, have a look at the West Indians celebrating after the tied test in Brisbane in 1960. For that matter, have a look at any soccer match after a goal is scored.