I thought people were innocent until proven guilty but in Harbhajan’s case it’s different. He is an Indian player in Australia, that’s one of the things that seems different. It’s funny how Australia is a center of so many cricket controversies. Can’t be a coincidence. Now there is this new controversy where Bhajji has been accused of something for which there is no proof, and worse, he’s been convicted and banned for three tests. India is going to boycott the series….a decision of great import for cricket. It’s making headlines in BBC World News.
I wasn’t going to write about this, and in fact left a rather long comment on Prerna’s post, which was aptly titled, Aussies don’t lie, do they. But I cannot stop myself any longer. I feel really angry at what has happened. What’s shocking is that the ICC is backing the Australian team’s overreaction to Bhajji’s remark – what this remark was no one knows for sure! There is also great anger that the umpire (Stever Bucknor) who made so many mistakes in umpiring (against India) was going to umpire in the next match…this is nothing but sheer arrogance. It is clear that no umpire can make so many mistakes against one team…it reeks of bias. The comment I left on Prerna’s post is this:
“Although I am not an avid follower of cricket I have been following the racism controversy avidly. Will or won’t Harbhajan be convicted of abusing Symonds? He won’t be I kept telling myself. It was so obvious from the clip shown that Harbhajan was surprised at Symond’s reaction to his remark, whatever it was. That itself should have been reason for him to be considered innocent. But no he was charged and horror of horrors, two Australian players said they would testify. And now we hear Harbhajan has been banned. I don’t believe for a moment that he called Symonds a monkey. He hasn’t quite lost his mind!
This stinks. The whole thing just stinks to high heaven.
But tell me, why in the world should Harbhajan be found guilty without concrete evidence? It’s their words against ours. There can be only one answer, at least to my mind. Racism on the part of the wise men who made the decision. Racists usually don’t even realize they are being racist. They are so convinced that they are right.
I am really glad that India has boycotted the series. I just hope they stick to their guns. Enough is enough.”
Interestingly, one of cricket’s best writers, Peter Roebuck, has critcised the decision on the part of Ricky Ponting to make a formal complaint against Harbhajan. He writes in a column in the age:
If Harbhajan overstepped the mark then he must be called to account. In these situations, though, it is one man’s word against another. Nor are the Australians convincingly cast as innocent parties. Ponting might have considered telling them to watch their tongues beforehand. Harbhajan may be a goose but he tends to respond rather than initiate. Also, the Tasmanian must have known how it would look to outsiders, an Australian team throwing its weight around in a time of trouble, a captain attacking his nemesis.
And in the Sydney Morning Herald Roebuck has gone as far as to say that Ponting should be sacked (as reported on NDTV):
Well said Peter. To think that cricket is a gentleman’s game!
India is already up in arms. From the man on the street, to the BCCI officials to the cricketers, everyone is fuming. The BCCI apparently has given a 24 hour deadline to the ICC to “for an immediate ban on the umpires and demanded that the three Test ban on Harbhajan should be revoked.”
As it is we in India are emotional about cricket and what we have suffered is gross injustice. There is no reason to tolerate racism in any form. And what Harbhajan and the team have suffered is racism.
(First picture of Symonds and Harbhajan from cricinfo.com and the second from livenews)