India flexed its muscle is the cricket world and had umpire Steve Buckner removed from officiating in the 3rd Test, after several poor decisions cost them the match, or at least a chance at saving it, and also had Harbhajan’s 3 match ban suspended, pending an appeal.
When the whole situation exploded, following Australia’s 16 Test victory in a row, there was actual very little doubt that India would not get there way, no matter what the noises coming out of the ICC and the cricketing world suggested. Playing India is the financial jackpot for any other cricket nation. The finances involved in a series featuring India amount to around about an entire seasons worth of playing the other Test nations. With those kind of figures involved there was no way that the people that run cricket, the money men, where going to allow the tour to be cut short. If they wanted their money they had to bow to Indian pressure and give them what they wanted. And so it happened.
While this kind of financial politics may tarnish the game somewhat it is within the rights of the Indian cricket board to push their influence to its limits. That’s just the way the world works. Other cricket boards have been doing it for years and now India are in a strong position, financially and those power wise, and they should be able to fight perceived injustices against their players.
While there is no doubt that Australia are the best team in the world, and have been for sometime, their is also little doubt that they have been helped along the way in maintaining their record by some very poor umpiring against touring teams for many, many, years. The advent of neutral umpires did little to curb that spiral. Australia claim to have been luckier in this regard and that these things even themselves out. In many cases they do. When playing Australia they don’t. There is a big difference when it comes to an Australian batsman being given not out on 0 after clearly getting an edge, then going on to score a big hundred and then finding himself victim of a dodgy LBW decision, compared to a touring batsman missing the ball by a long way and being given out at a crucial time in the match. The Aussie thinking would be that they they both got bad decisions. For everyone else, one decision cost them the match, the other lost them the match. There’s no justice there.
Australia feel they are above the law. This state of arrogance is brought out when a group of players are successful sportsman but maybe not good people. It was the same with Mourinho’s champion Chelsea team a few years ago. They feel that the laws apply to everyone except them. More specifically they see the errors in everyone else and not within themselves. Ricky Ponting and his team need to be humbled. The Aussies are the kings of sledging, or mental disintegration, as they call it. They get 70 000 people crammed into a stadium, fill them with booze, allow them to hurl abuse at touring teams, while at the same time piling on the abuse themselves, appealing a few times every over as if trying to wear down the umpire. And clearly it works. This, coupled with actual talent, has been the Aussie blue print for success. Which is sad because it detracts from their good players. People don’t hate talent, Tendulkar, Lara, Pollock, Inzi and Muttiah are respected and celebrated around the world (except maybe Australia), yet the talented players in Australia, Ponting, Warne, McGrath, Hayden and others are hated in many parts. It’s the arrogance that breeds contempt.
If Harbhajan did aim ant racist abuse at Symonds, a claim he denies, then he should be banned. There is no excuse for racism anywhere, not just in sport. However what about the Australian sledging? Which often goes past the line into fairly disgusting personal issues? Should they not be banned too? When Graeme Smith made his debut for South Africa, 21 years old at the time, he was subjected to various degrees of abuse at the hands of the Australians. He gave an interview to a magazine shortly after about his experience and was the subject of an Aussie backlash for daring to report what was said and what happened out on the pitch. Yet it seems that its okay for the Australians to report a player for doing what they themselves do.
While Adam Gilchrist has always been a model of the honest batsman, walking when he’s edged it, even if the fielding side don’t appeal, and taking the fielders world for a dubious catch, the rest of the Aussies are not in that mold. Blatant edges are followed by an Aussie batsman laughing at the appeal and swearing he didn’t touch it. They will appeal for appealing sake, yet suggest that Sri Lanka or Pakistan doing the same is not in the spirit of the game.
The Aussies play by a different rule book, and they must be humbled, and it is for this reason why they rest of the world must get behind India, and hope they can accomplish this. If not, then we should get behind South Africa, Pakistan, England, New Zealand, the West Indies, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and anyone else who takes on the mighty Aussie ego, and bring them back down to earth.