Much Ado About a Monkey

The Sydney Test proved one thing; this Australian team lacks grace, lacks decency, lacks good manners, and more so need to be taught how to be a good host.

The back-benchers of the Newspaper industry (back-pagers, even) are having a great time; throwing abuses at anything and everything they deemed to be killing the spirit of the game.

Indian journalists and sportsmanship? There are only a few Indian cricket journalists who would call a spade - a spade - all the time. Most of the newspapers want its editors and journalists to be narrow-minded partisan hacks - simply because of their commercial interests. They need more advertisement revenue - a controversy, if that too a Monkey Controversy serves those best - they will take it.

Opportunistic? Of course.

OK, the Australian cricket captain has behaved without any sense of civility or even a sense of respecting the guests. He has made it look like a pub brawl (Punter has had his publicised brawls). Ponting's lack of class is way too obvious; Cricket Australia shouldn't have made him the captain at all. The man is not cheeky, he is cheap as it can get.

You must realise, Ponting's failure with the bat was one of the main reasons why Australia lost the series. He was a sitting duck to Indian bowlers on Indian tracks. In fact, Ponting has scored 172 Test runs in 14 outings at a royal average of 12.28 on Indian tracks, in 12 years. His highest score is 60 in those 14 innings; if you were to remove that Ponting has scored 112 runs at an average of a shade above 8 per innings. To put things in some sort of perspective, Courtney Walsh has scored at 6.7 runs on Indian soil in Test cricket.

Anyway, I remember asking him a question in a press conference in Vizag after the ODI, Ponting made a decent score for the first time on tour in 2001. That Ponting doesn't deserve to be picked to play in India is beyond a shadow of doubt. So, I asked him, how does it feel to have your captain (Steve Waugh) backing - in spite of being in such wretched form.

Ponting didn't thank Steve in his reply; he went on to say (much to my dismay) that he always knew he had it in him to score heavily on Indian tracks. It is another matter that he hasn't done the scoring in Test cricket where Indian spinners have a plan for the cheap Punter.

A little while before the Ponting press conference, I had asked Steve Waugh about Ponting's performance and his faith in him as a batsman. Waugh backed Ponting all the way, and that he is glad to see Ponting make some runs.

That is the difference between the 16-Test-match-in-a-row-winning captains.

Racism is not monkey games. Racism is a very serious thing.

I don't know whether Harbhajan did call Symonds a Monkey or a Donkey. Had I been playing, I would have told Symmo to get a haircut.

ICC, which is just a private club, has no right to create anti-racism laws. They just do not have the jurisdiction, even in Dubai, to set their on laws and then pass judgment without a trial. There are civil laws in every country, even in Israel and in Saudi Arabia. Racism is something that has to be dealt with within the laws set by the state, not by a private club.

OK, cricket is big; BCCI and ICC are so big that they have created a Cricket economy. Does it mean ICC or BCCI can start printing their own currencies? Can they have their own police force? How come they can say who is eligible to play and not eligible to play - as in the case of ICL contracted players.

The general assumption is that these teams represent their countries, the state itself.

ICC has no business in naming or shaming a person. Who the hell is this Procter? That there has been an accusation levelled by Australian captain Ricky Dirty Ponting, what the hell was the Sydney Police chief doing? How come the cops haven't arrested Harbhajan Singh?

When the young Man Utd player was accused of a rape in one of those Xmas parties, the cops picked him up. Racism is not kindergarten stuff; it is a serious crime against humanity. The ICC, Umpires, Match Referees or any dumb-wit ex-player, including the Super Referee Ranjan Madugalle has no jurisdiction over criminal cases.

Remember, when Woolmer was killed/died - ICC was the first to come out with a statement that there were no match-fixing. It is not for the ICC to say so; there are investigating agencies, which should have come out with such a statement.

Racism is a crime; and there should be no tolerance at all. Even if there is a murder case, it is the evidence the prosecution lays out, a proof that is beyond reasonable doubt - which nails the criminal. To allege a person to be a murderer without any evidence to back the claim is a crime by itself. To name and punish a person in an ad-hoc, illegal court, when there is a legal system and courts in Australia is a direct challenge to the Australian State.

In Harbhajan Singh's case, there has been no evidences to substantiate the allegation, neither has there been an admission of guilt by the accused. Mike Procter and ICC have challenged common sense and legal structures of a civilised state. It is not something the Australian parliament should ignore; the Sydney Police chief must be held answerable.

Levelling a false accusation against an individual is punishable too. Call it slander, defamation etc... The onus is never on Harbhajan to prove that he is innocent; the law sees him as an innocent till proven guilty. The onus is on a bunch of Australian cricketers to back what they say.

We all know that Sydney police wouldn't have pressed charges against the Indian player, simply because of the lack of proof. It is quite absurd that the ICC or its Match Referee should try to hijack the legal system of Sydney, NSW or even Australia. I repeat, this is not a simple thing - the lawmakers in Australia MUST take this case very seriously.

Here is a classic case of an institution, a cricket club and its officials, trying to act like a state. Something akin to mutiny.

Now the BCCI and CA have put the matter behind them for the time being, and have decided to get on with the game. The Racism case becomes a sideshow. There is much to lose for CA and the BCCI, given the fact their monopoly cricket - IPL - is not too far away.

This is not a time for any negotiations. There was a time for discussions; Ponting lost it - as he lacked civility and decency. A man, presumably innocent, has been named a racist - and has to live the rest of his life carrying a heavy cross.

Matt Hayden drawing a cross is a big marketing stunt. If he has a faith that guides him in the right direction, he would also know about justice. If the Australian players lied to damage Harbhajan Singh's reputation (as it stands now), those players have lost all respect.

The only person who knows the truth is Harbhajan Singh; no one else. Not even Symonds. As long as Harbhajan Singh doesn't confess that he is a racist; he should be allowed to live as a decent man.

Ricky Ponting has no decency whatsoever. In Mumbai, he wished Murali Kartik walked after getting a thick edge, even named Kartik in the post match comments. In Sydney, when the Aussies stood their ground, when they got out, it has been explained as a case of being 'competitive'.

Let us not be forced to believe only Australians know to play cricket tough and competitive. Australian cricket has contributed a lot to the game; it is time for them to reflect on the damage they are causing by having some fools at the top.

ICC must have playing rules, no laws to fight criminals and civil rights violations. Let the courts earn their livelihood. Cricket cannot be everything, because it just ain't.

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