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Unfair verdict

January 7, 2008

I thought people were innocent until proven guilty but in Harbhajan’s case it’s different.symonds.jpg 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:

symonds1.jpgIf 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)

20 Comments leave one →
  1. January 7, 2008 10:25 pm

    True.. It’s very unfair.. BCCI should take hard step.. otherwise it’s gonna be shame on us.

  2. January 7, 2008 11:38 pm

    I read Peter Roebuck’s articles before reading your post in my reader. Some of the Australian media is more sensible and fair than Australian cricket team. It was certainly hilarious to see champions of sledging and racism to accuse other of racis comments.

    I hope too that Indian cricket team stick to their decsion of not playing the series.

  3. Raj permalink
    January 8, 2008 12:36 am

    Nita,
    You’re right!The Australian cricket team is one of the most racist,ill-mannered,unprofessional outfits in world sport.

    And the ICC is exactly what it used to be i.e.”Imperial Cricket Council”.No wonder they did not want to change the name to something else,they wanted it to remain ICC.

    The ICC is a bunch of racist,incompetent,arrogant,useless,corrupt,unethical idiots.You should remember how spectators booed the ICC scoundrels at the World Cup Final in the West Indies.

    If one wants an example of a professional world sports organisation,they need to look no further than FIFA,the governing body of football.Football is a truly international game unlike cricket that is played only by a handful of countries.Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said that FIFA is more representative of the world than the UN.FIFA has more members than the UN.He forgot to add(for obvious reasons) that FIFA is much more egalitarian than the UN that is dominated by five countries.

    Yet FIFA remains a professional organisation that has done wonders for football.More importantly,it recognises its flaws,and tries to get rid of them.Unlike the Imperial Cricket Council.The imperialists are going to kill world cricket,no doubt.

  4. Sahil permalink
    January 8, 2008 12:45 am

    Hello Nita

    I knew you would be covering this international story too. I have been posting comments about this “Bollyline” furore (named by the BBC after the 1930’s Bodyline series) in Yahoo Answers Cricket section. It’s very HEATED over there -with Indian and Aussie supporters hurling the most vile, racist and low-level charges against each other. Tell you there’s a lot of excitement over there -in terms of bitterness, enmity and hostility.

    Initially, the Aussie supporters were crying foul -saying Indians are sore losers, whinging and making an issue out of nothing. But soon Indian supporters started pouring in by dozens, fifties and over hundred -the Aussies simply got outnumbered and left the scene.

    This cricket series has brought out the “ugliest” insides of both Indian and Australian people; things that can shake your imagination.

    I’m tempted to post a link asked by me there: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080105054458AAAzIEe

  5. R.S permalink
    January 8, 2008 7:57 am

    Jagmohan Dalmiya, where are you?

  6. January 8, 2008 9:22 am

    Thanks Bharath, Poonam, Raj, Sahil and R.S.
    I share you distress and anger at what is happening. I too have my doubts about the ICC, and I think they are not just unprofessional, they are racist. Otherwise why ban Bhajji for something that cannot be proved?
    Just look at those photographs and it is clear who is more aggressive and hostile, symonds or Bhajji. it is clear that it is symonds who is the one, from his body language. even in the video clip it was clear that symonds was over-reacting. I think Ponting was wrong to make a formal complaint…but I just hope our BCCI stands up for their rights!
    Sahil, thanks for the link.

  7. January 8, 2008 10:19 am

    I have read quite a few of commentaries on catches but none of them refer to Nicky Boje incident during the world cup. Aussies have appealed against Nicky Boje’s catch not being completed – he threw the ball in the air almost immediately. I dont recall those names and facts correctly but I guess this was relted to Steve Waugh’s catch. May be there is some dope there.
    Rahul

  8. January 8, 2008 10:28 am

    I agree with the issues, but not with the jingoism that is being rallied on by the like of NAvjot Singh Sidhu. Commentators are saying things like ‘this is an affront not to the team, but the entire nation”, and “Indians can NEVER be racist”.
    Ha! Indians CAN and ARE as racist as many others. Racism knows no color or nationality. In this particular instance, there may or may not have been a racist remark, but due process of determining that was questionable. However, we certainly should not extend the issue beyond the immediate. No claims on national pride and honor should be made. We are, like the Australians, Emperors Without Clothes.
    The less said about the umpiring, the better.

  9. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    January 8, 2008 10:38 am

    Doc:

    I am with you 200 %!

    Jingoism — and racism — is the bane of modern India. And cricket, dammit, is just a game. Why link it up with national honour?

    The only thing worse than the present fracas is when there is an India-Pakistan match on. It is as if the two countries are at war.

  10. krenim permalink
    January 8, 2008 12:35 pm

    for god’s sake must you jump at thr R word straight away the game of cricket indeed any game has been full of unfair tactics and ugly incidents since time immemorium.What is needed now are cool heads and a full impartial inquiry into the matter.This particular match was disgraceful no doubt and I am all for suspension of the series till the matter is resolved in a way acceptable to all sides without rubbing anyone’s nose in the ground so to speak.

    And nita I would appreciate a slightly more nuanced handling of what is now a volatile situation.

    FYI as stated before racism isn’t strictly white vs non white it is between any two groups of separate individuals.I know from personal experience that Indians look down on blacks at least as much as white britons in general.

    being called a red monkey is as insulting as being called a darkie,coolie etc.

    You know me well enough to know where I’m coming from…

  11. January 8, 2008 1:56 pm

    The aussies are bad losers. they seem to be good whiners…..how better to get rid of the umpiring controversy than scream racism…

    do you actually expect a proper punab ka puttar like bhajji to use a word like bandar when there are the bC’s mc’s and other permutations and combinations at his disposal…. there is of course the muhavra… bandar kya jaane adraak ka swadh… but i can’t see it being used in this context (or maybe it was) !!🙂

  12. January 8, 2008 1:57 pm

    and btw… when it comes to the media they are only interested in the guilty…. the innocent make for bad news🙂

  13. Sahil permalink
    January 8, 2008 2:27 pm

    harini…rumour has it that our Bhaji never used “monkey” instead it was the Punjabi version of “Teri Maa Ki” …and Symonds interpreted it the other way😉

  14. January 8, 2008 6:40 pm

    rdoc, vivek, yes, we need to see this in perspective. not go overboard. right now it’s the fact that bhajji has been convicted wrongly and the wrong umpiring. That is clear in my post.

    Harini 🙂

    Sahil, that’s a good one!😀

    Krenim, please note that what you said applies to the aussies. it’s they who are screaming the R word. What you said will only apply to Bhajji and that too if he has actually said monkey. He didn’t. And frankly I see no connection between what Indians feel towards blacks in general and this issue. This issue is not about the character of Indians in general, but about the fact that Bhajji has been wrongly convicted. And yes the verdict does remind me of the R word. Today there are reports in the newspaper that the Indians are in Australia are being heckled and called racists and monkeys etc. It’s really sick to my mind. We are talking about one individual who has been wrongly convicted, not about a whole race.

  15. January 8, 2008 6:56 pm

    Rambodoc, Indians have many other things to bother about. Race comes last in the list. We have castes, subcastes, religion,north south divide, language and many other divisions to take care of. I don’t know why the Australians can’t get it. They work hard for the mental disintegration of the opponents.I am surprised, how can they go wrong?

  16. Sahil permalink
    January 9, 2008 6:07 pm

    Latest news:

    Indian team has won a small, moral victory against these unfair allegations of racism. Bhaji is being recalled for the remaining test matches (his appeal has been delayed, indefinitely)…Bucknor is not going to umpire again.

    Wish to share some jokes over this fiasco (lighter moment)😉

    # An aircraft is about to crash. Symonds, Ponting and Bhaji are on board and they have only 2 parachutes between them. So how do they settle the problem?

    Bhaji and Ponting seize the parachutes first and are about to jump. Symonds protests why he’s being left out. To this, Bhaji quickly retorts, “Andrew you’re a monkey so you won’t need any parachutes. Follow us now.”

    # Steve Bucknor has an appointment with his eye-specialist:

    SB: “Doc…I need a new pair of glasses for my myopia problem”

    Doctor: “What’s the use now? They won’t let you umpire again”.

    # Mike Hussey and Ricky Ponting are about to launch their autobiography, “Cricket and Ethics”. At a private opening ceremony, they invite their long-standing rival Harbhajan Singh. Dressed in his smartest outfit, Bhaji is asked to give a short speech. He goes on to say that Ponting and Hussey didn’t make any reference to the 2-6 Jan, ’08 Sydney Test match in their book.

    Ponting speaks in his usual gay manner,

    “Fair dinkum mate…that’s how we could choose such a title for this book”

  17. January 13, 2008 9:18 am

    I think this is probably the only time I have something to add to something cricket related. I hardly know enough about the matter at hand to comment about who is wrong and who is right, but I would like to add my 2 cents, however unrelated it might be perceived as.

    @Raj: FIFA has its own problems. Football is a popular sport. That’s why FIFA has so many members. Lets not give them undue credit for a beautiful sport. FIFA has its own racism issues, issues of mismanagement of funds etc. Hardly an ideal. FIFA’s marginalisation policies can be seen through its altitute ban.

    @rambodoc: Very well said indeed. I read somewhere, either on Nita’s blog or the linked blog on this post, about how the racist doesn’t know he is being racist. I rest my case.

    @Rahul: If you are talking about the 1999 World cup incident where Gibbs did not complete the catch of australian skipper Steve Waugh then you should perhaps check it out. That was a perfectly legit decision.

    To end, I would like to add to cricket fans, Welcome to the real world. Indian sport (outside of cricket, yes there is a world out there) has long had troubles with international organisations of other sports and I don’t see any of you’ll rallying behind our other athletes, because if this was a question of national pride, then so were those. It is time the cricket fans dropped their patriotism act and got on with the programme.

  18. Captain Sharks permalink
    January 13, 2008 9:56 pm

    it was unfortunate to lose d test match in such a way,lets hope Perth test will bring some new light.

    but dont u think there is one more star engulfed in controversies n facing all the brunt lonely at such a young age with no one coming in support of her,i m talking about Sania Mirza.
    In d recent blockbuster Chakde India,a player asks SRK-playing for our country is really such a bad thing ?
    i wud say a big YES.

  19. January 14, 2008 11:48 am

    Quoting Captain Sharks:

    “In d recent blockbuster Chakde India,a player asks SRK-playing for our country is really such a bad thing ?
    i wud say a big YES.”

    I didn’t quite understand what that was supposed to mean.

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