January 6, 2008

India in Australia, 2007-08

A sledgehammer for a walnut

Brydon Coverdale
Harbhajan Singh sinks to his knees as India slide towards defeat, Australia v India, 2nd Test, Sydney, 5th day, January 6, 2008
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The three-Test ban Harbhajan Singh was given for an alleged racial comment against Andrew Symonds came too late in the night for most Australian newspapers. But in the Age, Greg Baum argues that a suspended sentence would have been appropriate.

Symonds had the right to expect better from a fellow professional than from a mindless crowd. Harbhajan said he was sorely provoked. The Australians said he had a history. Both doubtlessly are true. But did it warrant the throwing of the whole anti-racism book at Harbhajan? Did this walnut need a sledgehammer? Cricket is right to make an example of an offender. But it must be the right example, the right offender. Really, this ought to have been sorted out on the field, between players, captains and umpires. Since it was not, a suspended sentence should have sufficed. That sentence would have said to Harbhajan: if you didn't know better before, you do now.

Peter Lalor, writing in the Australian, disagrees and says Harbhajan deserves no sympathy if the allegations are true.

He could have used all sorts of expletives, he could have even ignored Symonds, but, according to a number of the Australian players, he went to the poison well to dish out the most toxic thing he could think of.

Steve Waugh says in the Daily Telegraph that the Harbhajan situation could have been handled better.

Perhaps a better outcome may have been for both captains, coaches and named players to get together at the end of the day's play and work out a solution before they went past the point of no return - which now has the potential to affect relations between both countries.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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