It was a dark and stormy night. That’s a lie. It was a mild and unseasonably warm night and I was almost asleep, lulled away by Heidi Klum’s and Niki Taylor’s voiceovers on Bravo.
Then, something insane happened; I received a reality-bending email. But first, some
unnecessary prattle back story.
From age 0-3.5, I had a much-adored stuffed bear, like most children my age. Unlike most children, my bear was named Babu, which totally proves that kids born here in the early to mid seventies might as well have been popped out “back home”. Anyway, Babu was wonderful as a confidante, hugging partner and drool-catcher…until we moved to San Francisco. Somewhere between Southern California and Northern, Babu disappeared, never to be seen again.
Last night, dazed and confused by exhaustion, I checked my email one final time…and did a sleepy double-take. There, in my inbox…Babu. The only justification I can offer for thinking what comes next is, um, Benadryl. “My Babu reached out to me from beyond!”, I gasped, and he did so via GMail no less:
It’s the biggest story happening in Indian Cricket and you are not covering it….that’s not right
Feed your cricket hunger with the story. I’m not sure if you are aware of the suspension of an Indian cricket player over racial abuse. This has created a cricket war between India and Australia. and YOU should write about it.
It has high drama, fight for honor, millions of dollars at stake and the big Indian ego Vs Australian. Australian media is supporting India as well
Well, I didn’t wanna vote in News tab and wait….hehe..
Babu, after absorbing tears, snot and Lord knows what else, this is the least I can do.
All right people.
The cricket post I have received eleven requests for (not counting the above-pasted, impassioned plea from my bear) is up next.
India’s cricket team stayed in its hotel in protest Monday after one of its players was penalized for allegedly using a racial slur during a match against Australia.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India plans to challenge the “the unfair decision” by the International Cricket Council to suspend Harbhajan Singh for three matches because it said he made racist remarks to Australia’s only black player. The Indian board said it will “suspend its operation until the appeal is disposed of.” [IHT]
What the hell is going on, you might be asking. No? Well, I was asking…this is a lot of story for a blogger of little cricket brain. Apparently Indian cricket player Harbhajan Singh called Australian player Andrew Symonds a monkey. Symonds is black.
Admittedly, “monkey” would not qualify in the top hundred racist insults. Ian Botham used to revel in the nickname “Guy The Gorilla”. When all is said and done, we are all simian primates. But the word “monkey” had form, as everybody knew that Symonds had supposedly suffered such insults last year from Indian crowds. So case proven, the Indian spinner was guilty as charged. The Indian board should stop its posturing, accept what must be a galling reminder that it is the International Cricket Council that still runs the game, and get on with the tour.
Do not delude yourself, though, that in punishing Harbhajan cricket is punishing a sinner. It is punishing a victim. It is punishing a player who, it might be concluded, mentally disintegrated. Remember mental disintegration? It is Australia’s nauseatingly self-congratulatory phrase for sledging. And it worked. It worked so well that Harbhajan cracked and Australia have not stopped bleating about their shoddy little victory ever since. [Guardian]
Sledging is a cricket term for undermining players by talking a lot o’ tatti. Insult someone enough and they crack, not that I would know a damned thing about that.
Match referee Mike Proctor held a four-hour hearing at the Sydney Cricket Ground after Australia’s 122-run victory and ruled that the case against the India spinner was proved.
“I am satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Harbhajan Singh directed that word at Andrew Symonds and also that he meant it to offend on the basis of Symonds’ race or ethnic origin,” Proctor said. [IHT]
Beyond a reasonable doubt, eh?
“Unfair allegation of racism against our Indian player is wholly unacceptable,” said board president Sharad Pawar, who is also a senior government minister, in a statement. “The game of cricket is paramount but so too is the honor of India’s cricket team and every Indian.” [IHT]
Warning: cricket neophyte about to type.
The second test match of the tour = drama. Captain Kumble (that’s fun to say!) called the Aussies out on being dirty bastards while his team rolled their eyes the fifth time the umpires made a stupid and unfair decision.
The most blatant was an appeal that would have put Symonds out after just 30 runs in the first innings.
Symonds has freely admitted he should have been out. He went on to score 162 runs not out and was later named man of the match. [IHT]
We’re not alone in our hot tub of displeasure:
Several Australian newspapers agreed Monday that India should have won the second test, and criticized the behavior of Australian players during the test. [IHT]
I think what is pissing so many people off is the double-standard which is so evident in this unfortunate situation, the hypocrisy.
The problem is that Australia’s dividing line is not a reliable division between the morally upstanding and the indefensible. Australia’s dividing line is repugnant, enabling the condemnation of the likes of Harbhajan whilst legitimising obnoxious behaviour that cricket should have had the bravery to root out a generation ago.
Racism cannot be countenanced. But it is a rum old world that bans a man for three Tests for calling someone a monkey, yet allows the sort of boorish behaviour that allows first slip to drone to a batsman that he is shagging his wife, or that convinces any fast bowler with half a brain that personal insults every time a batsman plays and misses are essential for any cricketer of spirit. As long as you are careful not to refer to the colour of his skin.
It needs to be remembered that Harbhajan’s assault did not come without provocation. Before he was abused as a monkey, Symonds had been indulging in a phrase or two out of the corner of his mouth. Australia and Harbhajan have been at each other for years. But Australia have been obsessed with “reverse racism” ever since Darren Lehmann, their batsman, became the first international player to be banned for the racial abuse of Sri Lankan players five years ago. They have been intent upon revenge and now they have gained it. [Guardian]
What I found interesting is how Harbhajan Singh’s outburst might have been overlooked (vs. becoming the subject of 5,000 blog posts and news articles) had Aussie captain Ponting not whined about it to the umpires, thus drawing attention to it. That’s classy.
Well, Ponting may have won this pathetic, wee, jeer-worthy (no! sledging-worthy) battle but after everything I’ve read online, he has lost far more, most notably respect and credibility because of it. Well-played. Idiot (note: must be pronounced the way Naseeruddin Shah did in Monsoon Wedding, kthx bai).