Michael Jeh December 20, 2009

The true spirit of cricket

The spirit of Christmas and the Spirit of Cricket: two abstract concepts that are more about misty-eyed, mushy sentimentalism than about anything you can actually see and touch and feel
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Was Suleiman Benn that much more at fault than Brad Haddin or Mitchell Johnson? © Getty Images
 

The spirit of Christmas and the Spirit of Cricket: two abstract concepts that are more about misty-eyed, mushy sentimentalism than about anything you can actually see and touch and feel. Humbug!

The ‘spirit’ of Christmas seems to be a very literal interpretation in Australia, with a record number of drunk drivers getting arrested on the way home from Christmas parties, presumably celebrating the season’s goodwill and peace to all men. Clearly, that goodwill doesn’t extend to anyone sharing the road with them!

Likewise, the cricket scene too is full of little incidents that show up the Spirit of Cricket for the joke that it is. Administered by an ICC that bumbles about in its own inconsistency, handing out vastly differing punishments for similar offences and new playing conditions that have been poorly thought out (or not enforced), the sport cannot make up its mind about where it sits – is it a business, is it a gentleman’s game, is it a war between countries or is it about setting good examples for young children? It certainly can’t be all things to all people.

Let’s start in Perth – Sulieman Benn, Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson are all involved in an unseemly incident, all of them with varying degrees of blame and totally contrasting punishments. Regardless of who pleaded guilty or not, if Johnson was fined 10% of his match fee (which in itself is a joke), even if Benn was deemed to be ten times more culpable, his punishment should then have been 100% of his match fee. Was Benn that much more at fault than Haddin or Johnson where his penalty could be equated to twenty or thirty times more (in rough terms) when you think of what a match suspension really counts for? Is that meant to be justice?

The commentators keep talking about the passion and pride of playing for one’s country when excusing childish acts of petulance like Doug Bollinger’s behaviour in Adelaide. Why is it then that only one team is allowed that leeway? Surely all cricketers can show pride and passion, in whatever way their culture deems appropriate? Looks more like pride and prejudice to me!

Ian Healy keeps talking about setting an example to young kids (with the Benn/Haddin/Johnson incident) and I agree totally with him. What do those young kids make of the penalties then? Different strokes for different folks? What do they make of Shane Watson’s childish behaviour, offset by a 15% match fee penalty? Gosh, that’s really going to hurt him! Just about everyone at my cricket club last night, watching Watson’s performance, cringed in embarrassment. Yet, Chris Broad deems it worthy of docking him some pocket money. If that had been Harbhajan Singh or Shoaib Akhtar or Benn himself, would the match referee have applied the same penalty? We’ll never know but I reckon there’s more chance of Santa Claus going on a diet.

Billy Bowden, faster than a speeding reindeer when it comes to theatrics and showmanship, took far too long to intervene and hose down the Perth incident before it got to the ‘push’n’shove’ stage. What was he thinking? Didn't he realise the cameras would be on him?

Across the Indian Ocean in Pretoria, England made a mockery of the review system by calling for a referral when the last wicket fell, just because they had one up their sleeve, in the hope that it may have been a no-ball. That’s just corrupting something that was created for an entirely honourable purpose: to eliminate the absolute shockers from the game. Perhaps England was still seething over the delayed Stuart Broad referral when the South Africans waited forever to get a signal from the dressing room before they asked for a review. Commentators are now talking about teams using their quota of referrals on a strategic basis - when they desperately need a wicket or a partnership, rather than the original purpose of rectifying major errors.

To cap off the spirit of Christmas, I read today that Andrew Symonds and Michael Clarke are apparently no longer on speaking terms, presumably after Symonds’ much celebrated love of distilled spirits led to a dilution of the many things they apparently had in common (anyone who’s seen the mischievous emails will know what I mean when I refer to their little ‘bingle’ – an Aussie term for minor accident!). If Symonds is to be taken seriously, the Australian cricket scene is in danger of losing its characters because they’re too concerned with a squeaky-clean public image. More drinking, jostling, sledging, turning up drunk to games etc please – presumably that’s what he means by ‘character’?

Spirit of Cricket indeed - pigs might fly first. Or was that just Santa flitting past, on his way to Perth to collect the donations from Haddin, Johnson, Benn and Watson? He can rely on the impartial match referee to tell him who’s been naughty and nice!

Michael Jeh is an Oxford Blue who played first-class cricket, and a Playing Member of the MCC. He lives in Brisbane

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Chris on December 27, 2009, 11:45 GMT

    I cannot believe the people posting in the forum are so easily willing to "play the race card". As for the article, I think it is lacking in logic. Watson's actions were entirely unrelated to the Benn/Haddin/Johnson incident so discussing them in the same article is reprehensible and inflamatory. Watson was exuberant in an appeal - any journalist worth their salt would compare that incident to other incidents, and I think you would find in most cases Watson's punishment is on par or worse than average (most are not even reported). As for Benn, I think he deserved the 2 ODI matches for intentional contact. I think Haddin deserved harsher than he got as he should have left the incident alone - perhaps 50% of his match fee. Johnson was pretty much a bystander in all events except for the very gentle push he gave Benn to get the guy literally off his back, so his fine was fair. It is so sad that people choose to use race in a cynical way to justify their own prejudices.

  • waterbuffalo on December 26, 2009, 20:58 GMT

    Very well said, alex johns, very well said, when will people realize that most of the suspensions and bans and fines come when teams are playing Australia? Not Eng, SA or NZ? Why is that so? I am also a huge Aussie fan, growing up on Lillee and Thomson and ABC radio-listening to Maxwell and Tim Lane, my favourite batsman all time is Mark Waugh, and I loved Terry Alderman, but if I criticize Australia I am accused of being racist, no mate, you guys have to look at the mirror, I know that many Aussies themselves are turned off at the behaviour of their teams, frankly I think they're sick of it because it has been going on so long it's getting old.

  • ben v on December 24, 2009, 6:10 GMT

    having actually been present at the game there was no doubt that Benn was the aggressor. The incident was effectively a non event until Benn decided to get involved mid pitch between overs. Throughout the day he also had the habit of coming and standing less than a metre away from the 2 batsmen between overs ( whilst fielding, not bowling)- definitely trying to intimidate.

  • Alex Johns on December 24, 2009, 1:50 GMT

    I am an Australian and I love my cricket, but it seems that we always seem to have a run-in with every team that tours Australia. I do think other countries come to play in Oz expecting to be sledged relentlessy, hence they come here already in an aggressive mood, but the Aussie side do themselves no favours by acting like idiots in the first place.

    People defend the Aussies by saying they are 'passionate' and 'competitive', but you can be those things easily without being obnoxious. In other sports, even in the most aggressive ones, respect is meant to be paid to the opposing opposition.

    It's time for a shift in attitude towards the game we love. I would hate for our children to be emulating the displays of these so called men on the field.

  • Looch on December 23, 2009, 23:43 GMT

    Great post GD, a simple statements of the facts of what happened, its shame sport "journalists" are unable to do the same.

  • obi wan kenobi on December 23, 2009, 6:19 GMT

    great article. I live in australia and many of the anglo saxon australians(not all-some are extremely literate and nice people) tend to be bogan rednecks that can't hack anything said against them. But blaming australians is not the main issue here-the issue is Chris Broad-the guy didn't follow the spirit of cricket himself and it is not the australians that are the problem it's Chris Broad-he's been doing this for a while-if the punishment was equal the aussies would tone down

  • Atul Ghate on December 23, 2009, 6:06 GMT

    I feel sorry for aussie team. Players from different part of the world play with them sledge them bash them around. I sometime wonder why does it always happen in OZ series and not others. May be because OZ follow spirit of cricket..

  • Engle on December 23, 2009, 2:20 GMT

    The reason the Aussies continue to misbehave is that they have not been adequately reprimanded.

    Ban Ponting for a Test for his and his players misbehaviour and watch them step into line in the future.

  • waterbuffalo on December 23, 2009, 1:58 GMT

    It is not villifying whitey, it is villifying Australia, no one is criticizing England or SA or NZ, I am sure the Indians, S Lankans and Pakistanis have no problem with them, it is only Australia that provokes this sort of response, white has nothing to do with it, Pakistan and New Zealand played 15 days of Test Cricket and there was not a SINGLE problem. An umpire quit on the first day of a Test Match in Australia, and WI and the Aussies had problems in every test match, do not make this out to be a white/non white thing; this applies only to Australia, mate.

  • foo on December 22, 2009, 17:42 GMT

    Aussie players should learn to behave from teams like SL or NZ. To play the game nicely.

  • Chris on December 27, 2009, 11:45 GMT

    I cannot believe the people posting in the forum are so easily willing to "play the race card". As for the article, I think it is lacking in logic. Watson's actions were entirely unrelated to the Benn/Haddin/Johnson incident so discussing them in the same article is reprehensible and inflamatory. Watson was exuberant in an appeal - any journalist worth their salt would compare that incident to other incidents, and I think you would find in most cases Watson's punishment is on par or worse than average (most are not even reported). As for Benn, I think he deserved the 2 ODI matches for intentional contact. I think Haddin deserved harsher than he got as he should have left the incident alone - perhaps 50% of his match fee. Johnson was pretty much a bystander in all events except for the very gentle push he gave Benn to get the guy literally off his back, so his fine was fair. It is so sad that people choose to use race in a cynical way to justify their own prejudices.

  • waterbuffalo on December 26, 2009, 20:58 GMT

    Very well said, alex johns, very well said, when will people realize that most of the suspensions and bans and fines come when teams are playing Australia? Not Eng, SA or NZ? Why is that so? I am also a huge Aussie fan, growing up on Lillee and Thomson and ABC radio-listening to Maxwell and Tim Lane, my favourite batsman all time is Mark Waugh, and I loved Terry Alderman, but if I criticize Australia I am accused of being racist, no mate, you guys have to look at the mirror, I know that many Aussies themselves are turned off at the behaviour of their teams, frankly I think they're sick of it because it has been going on so long it's getting old.

  • ben v on December 24, 2009, 6:10 GMT

    having actually been present at the game there was no doubt that Benn was the aggressor. The incident was effectively a non event until Benn decided to get involved mid pitch between overs. Throughout the day he also had the habit of coming and standing less than a metre away from the 2 batsmen between overs ( whilst fielding, not bowling)- definitely trying to intimidate.

  • Alex Johns on December 24, 2009, 1:50 GMT

    I am an Australian and I love my cricket, but it seems that we always seem to have a run-in with every team that tours Australia. I do think other countries come to play in Oz expecting to be sledged relentlessy, hence they come here already in an aggressive mood, but the Aussie side do themselves no favours by acting like idiots in the first place.

    People defend the Aussies by saying they are 'passionate' and 'competitive', but you can be those things easily without being obnoxious. In other sports, even in the most aggressive ones, respect is meant to be paid to the opposing opposition.

    It's time for a shift in attitude towards the game we love. I would hate for our children to be emulating the displays of these so called men on the field.

  • Looch on December 23, 2009, 23:43 GMT

    Great post GD, a simple statements of the facts of what happened, its shame sport "journalists" are unable to do the same.

  • obi wan kenobi on December 23, 2009, 6:19 GMT

    great article. I live in australia and many of the anglo saxon australians(not all-some are extremely literate and nice people) tend to be bogan rednecks that can't hack anything said against them. But blaming australians is not the main issue here-the issue is Chris Broad-the guy didn't follow the spirit of cricket himself and it is not the australians that are the problem it's Chris Broad-he's been doing this for a while-if the punishment was equal the aussies would tone down

  • Atul Ghate on December 23, 2009, 6:06 GMT

    I feel sorry for aussie team. Players from different part of the world play with them sledge them bash them around. I sometime wonder why does it always happen in OZ series and not others. May be because OZ follow spirit of cricket..

  • Engle on December 23, 2009, 2:20 GMT

    The reason the Aussies continue to misbehave is that they have not been adequately reprimanded.

    Ban Ponting for a Test for his and his players misbehaviour and watch them step into line in the future.

  • waterbuffalo on December 23, 2009, 1:58 GMT

    It is not villifying whitey, it is villifying Australia, no one is criticizing England or SA or NZ, I am sure the Indians, S Lankans and Pakistanis have no problem with them, it is only Australia that provokes this sort of response, white has nothing to do with it, Pakistan and New Zealand played 15 days of Test Cricket and there was not a SINGLE problem. An umpire quit on the first day of a Test Match in Australia, and WI and the Aussies had problems in every test match, do not make this out to be a white/non white thing; this applies only to Australia, mate.

  • foo on December 22, 2009, 17:42 GMT

    Aussie players should learn to behave from teams like SL or NZ. To play the game nicely.

  • Aoun Hassan on December 22, 2009, 15:40 GMT

    I am really excited about taking my little boy to Boxing day test. I seriously hope Watson gets some wickets and make that face again coz my lil boy just loves cartoons.

  • Grant on December 22, 2009, 14:21 GMT

    I refer to Michael's comments on using a referral when their last wicket fell in their first innings vs SA. I have been waiting for a team to use a remaining referral when the 10th wicket falls, in the hope that it is a no ball, and now it has happened.

    When I discovered how the referral system works, I figured this would be an inevitable consequence of it. I don't see anything wrong with us - if a team has a referral or two in hand and the final wicket falls, even comprehensively bowled, why not have it referred, in case it was a no ball? You've got nothing to lose.

    Pretty soon all teams will be doing it. You'd be pretty stupid not to.

    I suspect Kemar Roach's appeal against his caught behind in WI's second innings of the Perth test had similar thinking behind it. 36 runs left to win - why not?

  • ash on December 22, 2009, 10:31 GMT

    Are you going to close your eyes when justice fails repeatedly in Australia? Don't need to be lawyer to figure it out, here's a comparative list of FYI :) 1. Broad banned Shahid Afridi for four ODIs for pointing his bat at spectators. Brad Haddin is a repeat offender - pointed a bat in full view of the camera (have you viewed the ugly footage, my kids did?) and he gets 10% off, sounds like Broad took his tips from Target! 2. Shane Watson is a repeat/ serial offender. What did he get besides a paltry fine from Broad? Last time was 10%, this time 15%.....ah the disparity continues to rage on while ICC sleeps. 3. Broad fined Zaheer Khan 80% of his match fees for giving Mathew Hayden a send off. This, after Khan had apologised and pleaded guilty, and after "considering his good disciplinary record". Now Watson gets a 15% fine for repeat offence of the similar type, like wow how amazingly consistent is that!

  • Jay on December 22, 2009, 1:54 GMT

    I am not given to conspiracy theories but the regularity with which the Australians provoke their rivals (Harbhajan, Gambhir and now Benn) into committing an indiscretion is making me reconsider. This could well be a team decision made well in advance and played out with clockwork precision. Consider the players: Targets: Harbhajan, Gambhir, Benn Diversion: Brett Lee, Katich, Mitchell Johnson Provocateur: Symonds, Watson, Watson Result: Slap on the wrist for provocateur, no punishment for the distraction and ban for the target. Ponting makes the obligatory noises about being embarrassed and promising to do better. But the series is over and the damage is done. They wait a bit and do it again and in a way that they are legally less vulnerable than the target.

    Someone at the ICC needs to ask why Aussie players cant play nicely. It is not enough to say things like, "We admire their tough brand of cricket. Hope they never stop playing the way they do."

  • JS on December 22, 2009, 1:15 GMT

    Oh, great. Another baiting article on Cricinfo attempting to vilify "whitey". This is all getting a little tiring, don't you think? Regardless of anyone's opinion on previous Australian sides (I think it's highly debatable whether they were as bad as certain sections of the media depict them), do we really need to drag every Australian cricketer through the coals for each and every (minor) discretion, seemingly based purely on long-held grudges with former players?

    I disagree with the questioning of Gayle's man-of-the-match/series awards, though. He was clearly head and shoulders above every other player in the series. Brilliant.

  • Nas on December 21, 2009, 23:58 GMT

    Good article. I agree that the punishments were inconsistent.

    I cant help but guess that the majority of people who have posted here have watched the 20 seconds news item or youtube post of the incident.

    If anyone watched the entire match, and the period leading up to, and after the incident they would agree that Benn was the aggressor, and continued with this for the rest of the match... His behaviour was appalling...and at the end of the day, HE caused the initial incident, and then continued with it.

    I am an Australian supporter, and I am constantly cringing at the behaviour of some of our players... I cannot believe Watsons outburst I wish Gayle had smacked him with his bat!

  • Steve on December 21, 2009, 19:36 GMT

    Gayle's reaction to Watson on the field was priceless. He just looked at him like he was something he had brought in on his shoe.

    It would have been funnier if it had been a no-ball though.

  • vikas on December 21, 2009, 17:55 GMT

    Dont at all agree with this. Poor blokes, these aussies. Just because they provoke other players, sledge, spit etc, that they should be subjected to such scrutiny. What is this rubbish about racism? Cant people have some self defense, did you see how tall and towering Benn looked, wouldnt that require preventive action from our Aussies.

  • Ashok Sridharan on December 21, 2009, 16:44 GMT

    I fear the ongoing incident is one of many that seem to follow a definite pattern. Whatever excuse one may make for Chris Broad, its obvious that he applies two different yardsticks to white and non-white teams (unless this is the unlikely story of a pom having a soft corner for the kangaroos)- This is the same refree who imposed a ban for Gambhir for physical contact with Watson, who instigated the entire incident.

    Mr. Broad took no action against Watson. He didn't even consider it necessary to take action against Simon Katich, who abused Gambhir for a collision when clearly it was he who was at fault...perhaps Katich/ Watson's conduct was at the same level as smashing the stumps down with the bat.

  • Jay on December 21, 2009, 14:51 GMT

    Just wonder what sort of match ban Gayle would have got if he did the same to an Australian player. ---------------- Looking at the punishment for Benn, Gayle would probably have been banned for 10 tests or a year...

  • GD on December 21, 2009, 12:58 GMT

    So yet another Cricinfo writer jumps onto the Tony Cozier bandwagon of rigamarole. Here are the facts for those for those too arrogant and too ignorant to actually watch the tape. 1) Contrary to all Cricinfo's reporting, the initial clash between Benn and Johnson was NOT an accidental collision where neither was at fault. It was not simple jostling. Benn pushed Johnoson with his arms before lifting his knee into him. 2) Haddin pointed at Benn with his bat. 3) Benn verbally attacked Haddin with a string of expletives which Haddin ignored. 4) Benn threatened to throw the ball at Haddin who was rooted firmly to his crease. 5) Benn confronted Haddin mid-pitch during the break between overs deliberately attempting to yet again inflame the situation. Johnson pushed him away.

    So lets see what happened: Johnson Haddin both did one stupid thing, regretted it, apologized and pled guilty. Benn carried on and on a constantly tried to inflame the situation and still pleaded not guilty.

  • Pranav on December 21, 2009, 12:03 GMT

    @ Brett Simpson: "Is it true that India have cancelled the South African Tour next year because the T.V. company fears that the tests won't rate." Where'd you get that one from? Here's a headsup: EVERY cricket board is looking to make money from T20 -- And it was SA that had their domestic T20 competition beginning immediately after the ODI series, for which they (read their sponsors) want all their big boys back. The BCCI has in fact now asked the SABC if they can dump two ODIs and schedule two Tests instead. The BCCI is now ready to jettison two money-making ODIs for two 'won't rate' Tests. If the SABC will push back their T20 competition by a week. That's how the facts fall -- but let's not let the facts get in the way of a biased attitude, shall we?

  • Richard Foon on December 21, 2009, 11:17 GMT

    The be fair to the officals they did give Man of the Match /Series to Gayle who was from the losing side.I think that was a good gesture. However it could be because none of the Australian batsmen scored a century in the series . As far as the Australian bowlers were concerned Watson & possibly Johnson were candidates but could they really give man of the series/match to Shane Watson or Johnson? That would not have been good publicity for test cricket. So I suppose in the end Watson and/or Johnson probably paid a higher penalty.

  • Arvind on December 21, 2009, 10:34 GMT

    Guess what, Chris Broad's own son was involved in that recent ugly incident involving the UDRS. Makes you wonder what kind of spirit Chris "Match Referee" Broad has imbibed in his son.

  • Arvind on December 21, 2009, 10:21 GMT

    ICC = UDRS = Unnecessary, Dumb, Ridiculous and Stupid.

    I still remember about 10 years ago, a certain Venkatesh Prasad was banned for a match for "excessive celebration" after the dismissal of a certain Michael Slater, while a couple of years later, the same Michael Slater got away with a "warning" and a "fine" after a lengthy swearing at the umpire, who denied his appeal for a catch.

    It looks like ICC's way of telling the Aussies, it is "fine" to behave like goons as long as you are Aussies.

  • Michael Jeh on December 21, 2009, 10:10 GMT

    Thanks for all the sensible comments thus far. It's nice to write a piece that doesn't attract polemic vitriol, based purely on which country one supports. I think most people agree broadly with the fact that Benn is hardly a choirboy and has a reputation for needling other players BUT also that his punishment seems to be out of synch with the others. Haddin, Watson and Benn get a total of 50% of the match fee (3 offences) whilst Benn gets banned for an entire Test match. Was his behaviour that much worse than the other three put together? That's a matter of opinion I suppose. I think Chris Gayle's media statement today was brilliant. It's simplicity cut like a razor. "Shane is that sort of player. I did not expect anything better". Ouch!!!!

  • Richard Foon on December 21, 2009, 9:17 GMT

    There was one other incident that could be mentioned. Joel Garner mentions the physical contact Ponting made (one with his elbow and one with his fist) to Bravo when the bowler was walking back to his mark.Ponting said that Bravo was in his way. It was picked up by the television commentator ( Tony Greig) but not punsihed by the match referee. Not in the spirit of the game or in the spirit of Christmas. Just wonder what sort of match ban Gayle would have got if he did the same to an Australian player. If you combine all the penalties dished out to the Australians which range from physical contact to Watson's antics the penalties still come no where close to Benn's penalty.

  • vas on December 21, 2009, 9:08 GMT

    Great post Michael.

    The severity of Benn's punishment in proportion to the Australians is baffling. However, let's not forget that Benn had a few run-ins in Adelaide that was ignored by Chris Broad. He kept goading Shane Watson throughout the five days, which Watson deflected. However, there has to be a system that penalises repeat offenders. On that token, I totally support Benn receiving a harsher penalty. To the extent of what actually transpired? No, but it's good to see the officials disciplining serial offenders.

    As for the Aussies, they have to consider themselves lucky first, and more importantly, have to review their behaviour. Since the unsavoury 2008 Sydney Test, their conduct has improved remarkably, and Ponting is largely responsible for that. It's important they don't forget the lessons learnt from the last few years. I know many people may not agree, but Australia has gone from the undoubtedly worst behaving teams to one of the best in the space of two years...

  • Ijas on December 21, 2009, 8:42 GMT

    In my opinion all three are equally responsible. Tony Greig was spot on, unfortunately Chris Broad appears to be bias. I am in a opinion that match referee is incompetent (unlikely) or scared of punishing Aussies in Australia. It is time to remove Chris Broad from referees panel.

  • Abdul Wahid on December 21, 2009, 8:03 GMT

    So much changes have been made to the game that now we could well say that Cricket is also mechanised. I wonder there would be one day that the role of umpires and officials be wiped out. Instead of umpires and officials robots with cameras and sensors would supervise the game.

    Aren't we actually surrendering to the machines in this way?

    The basic essence of the game is being eroded. If every matter would be decided thorugh these machines then I think such incidents may also be reported to the cameras and sensors to actually sense and decide on the correct numbers on sporting spirit found in every player.

  • Avir on December 21, 2009, 7:33 GMT

    I have to agree completely with this article. It is absolutely ridiculous how Chris Broad dealt out a two match ban to Benn. And since when does pleading guilty have a bearing on your punishment?? Lets face it, the Aussies have been sledging for years, but as soon as an Indian, Pakistani or in this case West Indian has the audacity to give as good as they get, they are harshly punished. Draw your own conclusions, but it all seems a bit unfair to me.

  • venkat on December 21, 2009, 6:39 GMT

    This is a really good article and I really hope that such churlish acts are condemened by everybody. I am an Indian and despite India's recent successes I have been thorougly embarassed by some of the behaviour displayed. Looking at the bigger picture, I am very proud that Cricket is "my game". It is probably the only popular sport that still places a great deal of importance on player behaviour. Most other sports are a hundred times worse than cricket and the viewing public have come to shrugging it off! I dont think cricket is undergoing a crisis in terms of player behaviour. However, it is good to have a debate on what consititutes the "spirit of cricket". And more importantly, it would be of great help to the paying public if match refrees clearly spelt out, the reasoning behind the punishment meted out. If that happened, I dont think we would have ugly debates of "bias" towards the "white man".

  • waterbuffalo on December 21, 2009, 6:20 GMT

    It is obvious to everyone in the cricket world except Chris Broad that Brad Haddin started it. Yet Benn is the guy that gets banned and Haddin and co can go about their merry way. The last Aussie captain with any sense of sportstmanship was Mark Taylor, a first class human being, I can go down the list of aussie players who behaved poorly but what would be the point? The Aussies always get away with it, and they never learn and then they have the gall to wonder why every country in the world hates them. I hope Pakistan gives as good as it gets, and guess what, I guarantee that it will a Pakistani that gets banned, not an Aussie. With a captain like Ponting why should anyone be surprised? And the best part is, Shane Watson is a rubbish bowler and only bats first because Australia do not have any good openers. This has been going on for 13 years, so it is absolutely nothing new. Fair dinkum, eh? sure, whatever keeps you warm at night, mate.

  • Rajan Mani on December 21, 2009, 5:44 GMT

    I really feel sorry for the Aussie cricketers ! Over the last few years, every other team provokes them to either spit or mouth foul language or bash them ! Thank God there is still some justice left in the world - every time only the other team's players get the bigger punishment !!!!!

  • Michael on December 21, 2009, 5:40 GMT

    This is getting a bit tiring. I read the media reports that exonerated Benn of any deliberate contact with Johnson before I saw the footage. Imagine my surprise to see Benn take 4 or 5 steps into Johnson AFTER the initial contact, including one where he appears to raise his knee towards Johnson's groin. My guess is that this is the real reason Benn was charged with a level 2 offence - as Gambir was - for deliberate physical contact. The ongoing bias of many media pundits is wearing thin, where any actions by non-white cricketers are given the most generous interpretations, and white cricketers are hung drawn and quartered for minor or imaginary offences. This blatant racism is as offensive as the usually accompanying implication that white cricketers are favoured on racial lines. By the way, can anyone recall the last time that a man-of-the-match AND man-of-the-series award went to a member of the losing side?

  • Michael on December 21, 2009, 5:40 GMT

    This is getting a bit tiring. I read the media reports that exonerated Benn of any deliberate contact with Johnson before I saw the footage. Imagine my surprise to see Benn take 4 or 5 steps into Johnson AFTER the initial contact, including one where he appears to raise his knee towards Johnson's groin. My guess is that this is the real reason Benn was charged with a level 2 offence - as Gambir was - for deliberate physical contact. The ongoing bias of many media pundits is wearing thin, where any actions by non-white cricketers are given the most generous interpretations, and white cricketers are hung drawn and quartered for minor or imaginary offences. This blatant racism is as offensive as the usually accompanying implication that white cricketers are favoured on racial lines. By the way, can anyone recall the last time that a man-of-the-match AND man-of-the-series award went to a member of the losing side?

  • Venkatanarayanan on December 21, 2009, 5:00 GMT

    Let us wake up to the fact that the Aussies are breaking the rules in a systematic manner. They know the rules and will only break the rules in such a manner that will earn them lesser punishments while any retaliation from the opponents don't really follow the rules and end up getting bigger punishments.

    I think others should follow this strategy and have a "rules" coach whose main job will be to read through all the arcane by-laws and make sure whatever infringements are committed, they don't cross the line. The "rules" coach can also look at possible entrapments and see how the opponents can be snared into getting a stiffer punishment.

    I think India with all its money power can start this trend. They should do get cracking on it immediately and be prepared well in advance of the next Aussie tour.

    Madness!!! That is what this is...

  • Hari on December 21, 2009, 3:38 GMT

    Why is Chris Broad still a Match Referee? Surely you can find someone better. There was an incident of Ponting shoving Bravo. If I remember correctly Gautam received a ban for that [quite correctly in that case]. But what about Ponting? Maybe it was divine intervention that he got a "ban" in the Boxing Day test. Also Benn was no worse than Haddin and Johnson. Haddin pointed the bat at Benn, so who was the instigator? In the 'push and shove' Johnson accidently comes in the way of Benn and Haddin. Wow! As if he was walking blind. All three of them should have given equal punishment. That was the correct thing to do. The ICC would do well to get some impartial match referees. If they haven't noticed most teams are perfectly happy with the umpires now. They would do well to do the same in the case of match referees also.

  • leo on December 21, 2009, 1:55 GMT

    This is what gets on my nerves. The Aussies always like to point out the previous offenses when penalties are handed. In an year's time if Benn gets involved in a shoving incident with Haddin/Johnson/watson, they would say Benn should get the stiffer penalty than the aussie player, since he had much uglier record(banned for odi's due to perth incident), which the aussie player's dont have(just match fees docked). you see where i am going..

    If Broad isn't a bigot..he should have handed the ban to Watson as well for his dirty dancing...

  • Nahim on December 21, 2009, 1:50 GMT

    Some fair points there- but a fine worth 100% of the match fee? Asking a player to play a 5-day test match and not get a dollar's worth due to a single offence? You cannot be serious in suggesting that that is a lighter punishment than a two ODI ban. Admittedly the ICC has a very strange idea of what constitutes the right punishment for a certain offence, but credit them with the good sense to recognize that depriving a player of a full 5 days worth of earnings is several notches worse than merely preventing them from playing in a couple of ODIs. There is a reason why, beyond a certain level (50% perhaps?), fines are replaced with bans.

  • KP Road on December 21, 2009, 1:19 GMT

    Spot on target! Australia escapes again, and then they go on to claim that they have a squeaky clean image. Is it time to let Broad move to retirement?

  • redneck on December 21, 2009, 0:03 GMT

    why i agree with you on the benn, johnston & haddin incedent. benn pleading not guilty cant be a reason for a vastly heavier penalty compaired to johnstons and haddins! but why do you try and paint us aussies as alcoholics in nearly every post micheal? yeah we consume a fair bit of beer for a country of 20 million but come on, were not irresponsible as a whole! and you cant say that the number of aussies being caught drink driving is any higher to that of new zealand, the UK, the usa or any other nation! get off your aussies booze culture cruisade micheal and just talk cricket!!!

  • Brett Simpson on December 20, 2009, 23:55 GMT

    Hi Michael.I agree that the punishments on the surface do appear to be inconsistent,especially when Johnson started the physical contact.The problem here is we realy don't know what was said.Is this punishment a deterrent for players when they plead guilty.Why didn't the West Indians appeal if they felt there had been a miscarriage of justice? Or is it a waste of time?The problem with cricket at the moment is the I.C.C. who have always been confused about the game and really don't appear to understand cricket .Is it true that India have cancelled the South African Tour next year because the T.V. company fears that the tests won't rate. Why didn't the I.C.C.step in here to protect their own programme, or is that out the window now with the avalanche of T20 and the preference of the Indian dollar for this form of cricket.So smaller things like the referral system and player behaviour aren't going to be adressed when the bigger picture of who controls the game can't be worked out.

  • Edward T Logan on December 20, 2009, 23:32 GMT

    You just don't get it do you? Benn was suspended because he manhandled the Australian players. He tackled Johnson when he attempted a run, then pushed him when Johnson attempted to shephered Hadin away. All the Aussies did was mouth off and as of today's date, this is not outlawed in teh laws of the game.

  • Anna on December 20, 2009, 23:03 GMT

    I would have thought that the aggressive physical contact by Benn was far more offensive than the action of Haddin or Johnson. Let's turn this decision around--if Benn was a member of the Australian team, and had been fined, there'd be no discussion taking place other than the continued ranting about Australia. Jeh, as you're from the subcontinent, and given the feverish pitch of any cricketing article related to Australia from members of the part of the world, it's hard to view your own summary of the events as being objective.

  • Anna on December 20, 2009, 23:00 GMT

    Mr Jeh, is there any reason, other than being biased, why you opted to only highlight any of the real or perceived wrongs of the Australian cricket team? Is it a touchy subject mentioning that non-white teams, including the Windies, aren't exactly saints in the game.

  • Kumar on December 20, 2009, 21:46 GMT

    It's seems like the white teams get away with murder from their white match refs...Mr Broad is always at it when it come to being impartial...i agree with Tony Greg, they are all guilty so they get the same punishment, in teh justice system when one confesses he gets the maximum penalty but in the world of OLD disgruntled White Englishmen that had suffered at the hands of former colonials at cricket they need to show their distaste for colored people when they are international refs. What Broad did is blatant and Racial to say the least. I am glad you wrote about it. We have India Controlling the game with ECONOMICS, learned from the white man and now they are being persecuted in the media by their own journalists for doing it. The BCCI is fair in that they have the economic upper hand and i say use it. there was a time when England and Australia controlled it, no one complained a bit about what they were doing. what goes around comes around, the coming around time is when people compl

  • Cricfollower on December 20, 2009, 20:41 GMT

    The whole aussie favoritism when it comes to handing out penalties has become such a disgrace...even someone with a below average IQ could figure out the double standards... and to make it worse the Aussie behavior on the field worsens every day..now rivals that of boisterous kids with the worst upbringing you could imagine ... Feels like these methods are their best chance of winning games these days...it has just become a drag watching games involving this side...

  • Surfer on December 20, 2009, 19:21 GMT

    Well put... Aussies have this knack of getting away when laws are subjective... The UDRS is a joke... The shockers will be eliminated but with it, will go the excitement of waiting for the umpire's decision...

  • Saqib on December 20, 2009, 18:24 GMT

    Ha! I hope someone finallly listens! I wouldn't want to call Broad a racist but this is a bit absurd. Someone at the ICC headquarters on the moon should let them know this isn't a correct punishment, and punish mr Broad himself.

  • desilvalining on December 20, 2009, 18:10 GMT

    Great article!There seemed to be a lot of inconsistency in the penalties given in Aus, Windies match. Equally amusing was Ian Healy's biased commentary with Australia being totally innocent "just giving it back"!!

    Its also not the first time Chris Broad has been involved in such decisions. He seems to have a liking for Shane Watson. Maybe reminds him of his little boy who is just as annoying!

  • omar hussain on December 20, 2009, 16:51 GMT

    Australian cricketers have always been down to earth but the lot for the last decade have bordered on the scum of the land.Even Ponting has not learned anything during his century of Tests.He should have told his offensive players to grow up out of their inherent prejudice because the opponents are just as proud of their country as Australians themselves.Benn ,Haddin and Johnson were all equally to blame Haddin the more so because he put his foot where it was not asked for.The penalties are the worst kind of bigotry i have seen;is Chris Broad a racsit? or in the pay of the Aussies?I am afraid but this is clear indication of the old,old Colonial mentality where it is assumed that the whites will learn but the blacks need to be taught a lesson on all accounts simply because they are not 'one of us'.Hell! the Aussies will have been beaten in the last two Tests had one of the West Indians showed a resolve to hit back at the bullies who always attack in numbers.

  • j venkatesh on December 20, 2009, 14:44 GMT

    Superb piece of an article which conveyed the feelings of injustice done in handing over the punishment by a inept match referee. Really Mr. Jeh I appreciate the way you communicated the worst behaviour of Aussie cricketers and double stndards of match referees like Broad. Even after reading the heap of criticisms, the Aussie cricketers will not change and they are really proving to be bad ambassadors for cricket and ICC is adding fuel to the fire by contincuously protecting them and really we Indian fans do not like any of the present lot.

  • switch _hitter on December 20, 2009, 14:27 GMT

    true Chris Broad should face a suspension for his fluctuating penalties . quite possibly he may be racial or just against everyone except Australia and England. I am surprised by Asad Rauf that was clearly not out roach had no edge hot spot is very effective an if he had edged it would have shown up . Joel Garner should have a field day in his letter to the ICC.

  • SY on December 20, 2009, 14:21 GMT

    About time these chaps grew up and behaved like the adults they are. They call themselves professionals. I think they need some schooling on what professionalism means.

    The ICC needs to ban all on field chatter for starters. It is all very well to say that "harmless banter is good for the game", but who gets to define the limits. What is harmless banter for one culture is not for another. In no other sport is it okay to needle your opponent with nasty words(imagine if Nadal calls Federer a "cry baby" between games). Professionals don't name call. You would get fired from your job if you did that sort of thing.

    Cricketers can play a hard game without uttering a word. They should learn that versus trying to substitute verbals for a well directed bouncer.

  • wanderer on December 20, 2009, 13:23 GMT

    Don't lose hope Michael J, goodwill will flourish once more. It will only if you believe, you must believe and it will be.

  • Paulm on December 20, 2009, 13:10 GMT

    Interesting piece - to call the officials racist when Asian players are getting penalised is one thing. But to complain about racism in the system when white players are the ones being fined really takes some guts. I guess you don't have any examples of non-white bowlers copping bigger fines than Watson did for the same offense?

    You don't get the Pulitzer for pointing out that enforcing a Spirit of Cricket across cultures is complicated and difficult. But the alternative is worse. No one wants to see a cricket match descend into anything-goes, all-out abusive, open aggression but the fact is there is a lot of money and passion in the game at this point and without a written standard things will get ugly. It's controversial at times but it needs to be there.

    One more thing - for someone so quick to play the racist card you churn out a lot of ugly Australian stereotypes. Maybe some of your blogs could use a bit of sense and sensibility?

  • Dr.M.S.A.Iyer on December 20, 2009, 10:15 GMT

    A well return article depicting the picture correctly. Its true that had Bhajji or Akthar being at recieving end, the verdict might have been very different. This happens especially with White referees. There is no such issues when you have people from Asia. Also is Chris Broad himself worthy of being a referee. Had he not been a trouble kid in his days? Can he come anywhere near the gentlemaness of Referees' like Srinath, Mahanama or Raman Subba Rao or Jeff Crowe? Also here I ld like to take a bow for M.S.Dhoni who unlike the guy called as Great Captain, Punter took his time to set field while he could have done it simply like Ponting did last year. There is no point in calling for Cricketing Unity when I.C.C is biased.

  • Sam Walls on December 20, 2009, 10:14 GMT

    I don't like saying this sort of thing, but I couldn't help but think that Sulieman Benn getting such a disproportionately large punishment was *gasp* a little bit racist...

  • haris shaukat on December 20, 2009, 8:50 GMT

    I thinks it was a good decision by umpires, The most prominent thng ws the behaviour of Australian crowd towards guests, I was surprised to see Australian crowd enjoying the moment when Chris Gayle was on fire, I have hardly seen that thing being practiced in Australia as Australian crowd is much famous for being the "racist" crowd in Cricket history.

  • Anu on December 20, 2009, 7:14 GMT

    Excellent post,Michael! I don't normally comment but I couldn't resist to applaud you on this post.Thank you very much.

    On a similar note,MS Dhoni has been banned for 2 ODIs and what about the treatment of Chris Gayle before the series began and now? Such a hypocrisy ,mate!

  • Moin on December 20, 2009, 6:25 GMT

    I was shocked by the decision taken by match refree regarding the Perth test match incident. Does not make any sense at all.

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  • Moin on December 20, 2009, 6:25 GMT

    I was shocked by the decision taken by match refree regarding the Perth test match incident. Does not make any sense at all.

  • Anu on December 20, 2009, 7:14 GMT

    Excellent post,Michael! I don't normally comment but I couldn't resist to applaud you on this post.Thank you very much.

    On a similar note,MS Dhoni has been banned for 2 ODIs and what about the treatment of Chris Gayle before the series began and now? Such a hypocrisy ,mate!

  • haris shaukat on December 20, 2009, 8:50 GMT

    I thinks it was a good decision by umpires, The most prominent thng ws the behaviour of Australian crowd towards guests, I was surprised to see Australian crowd enjoying the moment when Chris Gayle was on fire, I have hardly seen that thing being practiced in Australia as Australian crowd is much famous for being the "racist" crowd in Cricket history.

  • Sam Walls on December 20, 2009, 10:14 GMT

    I don't like saying this sort of thing, but I couldn't help but think that Sulieman Benn getting such a disproportionately large punishment was *gasp* a little bit racist...

  • Dr.M.S.A.Iyer on December 20, 2009, 10:15 GMT

    A well return article depicting the picture correctly. Its true that had Bhajji or Akthar being at recieving end, the verdict might have been very different. This happens especially with White referees. There is no such issues when you have people from Asia. Also is Chris Broad himself worthy of being a referee. Had he not been a trouble kid in his days? Can he come anywhere near the gentlemaness of Referees' like Srinath, Mahanama or Raman Subba Rao or Jeff Crowe? Also here I ld like to take a bow for M.S.Dhoni who unlike the guy called as Great Captain, Punter took his time to set field while he could have done it simply like Ponting did last year. There is no point in calling for Cricketing Unity when I.C.C is biased.

  • Paulm on December 20, 2009, 13:10 GMT

    Interesting piece - to call the officials racist when Asian players are getting penalised is one thing. But to complain about racism in the system when white players are the ones being fined really takes some guts. I guess you don't have any examples of non-white bowlers copping bigger fines than Watson did for the same offense?

    You don't get the Pulitzer for pointing out that enforcing a Spirit of Cricket across cultures is complicated and difficult. But the alternative is worse. No one wants to see a cricket match descend into anything-goes, all-out abusive, open aggression but the fact is there is a lot of money and passion in the game at this point and without a written standard things will get ugly. It's controversial at times but it needs to be there.

    One more thing - for someone so quick to play the racist card you churn out a lot of ugly Australian stereotypes. Maybe some of your blogs could use a bit of sense and sensibility?

  • wanderer on December 20, 2009, 13:23 GMT

    Don't lose hope Michael J, goodwill will flourish once more. It will only if you believe, you must believe and it will be.

  • SY on December 20, 2009, 14:21 GMT

    About time these chaps grew up and behaved like the adults they are. They call themselves professionals. I think they need some schooling on what professionalism means.

    The ICC needs to ban all on field chatter for starters. It is all very well to say that "harmless banter is good for the game", but who gets to define the limits. What is harmless banter for one culture is not for another. In no other sport is it okay to needle your opponent with nasty words(imagine if Nadal calls Federer a "cry baby" between games). Professionals don't name call. You would get fired from your job if you did that sort of thing.

    Cricketers can play a hard game without uttering a word. They should learn that versus trying to substitute verbals for a well directed bouncer.

  • switch _hitter on December 20, 2009, 14:27 GMT

    true Chris Broad should face a suspension for his fluctuating penalties . quite possibly he may be racial or just against everyone except Australia and England. I am surprised by Asad Rauf that was clearly not out roach had no edge hot spot is very effective an if he had edged it would have shown up . Joel Garner should have a field day in his letter to the ICC.

  • j venkatesh on December 20, 2009, 14:44 GMT

    Superb piece of an article which conveyed the feelings of injustice done in handing over the punishment by a inept match referee. Really Mr. Jeh I appreciate the way you communicated the worst behaviour of Aussie cricketers and double stndards of match referees like Broad. Even after reading the heap of criticisms, the Aussie cricketers will not change and they are really proving to be bad ambassadors for cricket and ICC is adding fuel to the fire by contincuously protecting them and really we Indian fans do not like any of the present lot.