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Humbug and hypocrisy
by Gulu Ezekiel
Feb 03, 2008
By Gulu Ezekiel - Special Columnist

By now I was hoping to put the Harbhajan/Symonds business behind me now that Judge John Hansen has delivered his verdict. But a series of recent articles in the Australian media has got me thinking once again about the level of hypocrisy being practiced by both sides.

Firstly, I would like to make it perfectly clear that there is no doubt in mind that Harbhajan did indeed deliberately use a racial slur against Symonds, a word that was agreed prior to the series would not be uttered on the field of play. What has convinced me is Harbhajan’s past record that the ICC mysteriously failed to place before the judge.

Secondly, to come up with this ridiculous Hindi gaali alibi weeks after the initial hearing in the presence of the Match Referee is simply impossible to swallow. It must be the first time an Internet/sms joke has been used as evidence in a case, that too retrospectively. If the Indian team had put this forward to Mike Procter immediately after the Sydney Test, the whole sorry business would have died an early death.

But then Judge Hansen could only act on the evidence put before him and on that basis with no recording available of Harbhajan’s offensive words, he had no option but to lift the racism charge that Procter initially laid on him.

Now comes the hypocrisy angle. For the Australians to embrace Procter’s initial verdict based on the words of Australia’s cricketers against India’s and then to attack the judge who made his verdict based on solid evidence is humbug.

On the other hand, the BCCI, much of the hysterical Indian media and the public to proclaim loudly that Indians are incapable of practicing racism as they have been victims of it and fought against apartheid is equal humbug.

All honest Indians will admit that we are a racist society in our everyday lives. The crowd reaction to Symonds in India late last year nailed that once and for all.

The most remarkable part of Judge Hansen’s verdict was in labeling Symonds as an agent provocateur who triggered off the events with a display of puerile machismo in jumping to the defense of a teammate who never asked for it in the first place. Symonds had no business lighting Harbhajan’s fuse and the learned judge’s verdict will now put all Australian cricketers on alert that they simply cannot continue to bait opponents and then cry wolf when they face a backlash.

The McGrath-Sarwan episode was a classic example of how the Aussies have got away with this provocative business for far too long.

What really takes the cake though is all the whining going on in Australia, England and New Zealand in particular about how the Indian board is using its money power to browbeat other nations.

These were the three nations, along with apartheid South Africa who ruled the cricket world for a century with the two original Test playing nations enjoying the veto power in the ICC (originally, Imperial Cricket Conference) till India had it annulled in 1993.

It was the Anglo-Saxon cricket nations and their cronies in India and Pakistan who treated cricketers like servants and which led to the Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket revolution in the late ‘70s.

Following that for nearly 20 years power swung from England to Australia until the 1996 World Cup and the elevation of Jagmohan Dalmiya to the head of the ICC. Today thanks to the massive Indian market and the enormous revenue generated from TV rights, international cricketers are very well paid and they now even have the option of either playing in the unofficial Indian Cricket League or the official Indian Premier League.

It is interesting that though Lee was part of the on-field drama he asked to be excused from the subsequent hearings. The reason? He did not want to jeopardise his lucrative commercial interests in the Indian market!

The same Australian cricketers and their largely sycophantic media are now crying themselves hoarse about India’s financial clout.

I have a question for them. If they feel so outraged, why not take a moral stand and boycott the Indian market by canceling their lucrative ICL/IPL contracts in solidarity with their aggrieved mate? Or just shut up and smell the coffee that is the reality of today’s cricket world?

Guys, it is called putting your money where your mouth is. Now that’s what you call machismo!

The views expressed in this column are the author's.
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