Michael Jeh March 4, 2010

Where is the justice?

We keep talking of consistency from umpires when it comes to lbw decisions or wide calls or anything else on the field
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Mitchell Johnson and Scott Styris during their mid-pitch clash in Napier © Getty Images

"Many remark justice is blind; pity those in her sway, shocked to discover she is also deaf." - David MametFaustus


A few months ago, when Suleiman Benn clashed with Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson, I wrote a piece critical of the seeming double standards that the ICC applies when dealing with such unsavoury incidents.

Much earlier, I wrote a similar-themed piece when Gautam Gambhir and Shane Watson clashed in India in 2008.

Watching the live telecast from Napier yesterday when Mitchell Johnson (again) and Scott Styris clashed tongues and heads, there was never any doubt in my mind that justice like the type meted out to Benn and Gambhir was unlikely to happen here. An insignificant fine perhaps, depriving already rich men of some pocket money, and talk of responsibilities towards the Spirit of Cricket and role models but nothing that really resembles justice.

After the Benn-Haddin-Johnson incident, one could have been forgiven for thinking that physical contact on the cricket field was a clear no-no. Nothing ambiguous about that. Both Gambhir and Benn were suspended on the basis of making physical contact with an opponent, regardless of provocation. Fair enough too. So long as that applies to everyone.

How then does Johnson, a repeat offender in the last three months, escape with a mere 60% fine when it was clear that he headbutted Styris (albeit fairly gently - quite sensible too considering Styris was wearing a helmet!)? One explanation is that the Australians and New Zealanders know how to play it just that bit smarter when it comes to limiting the post-match post-mortems. They both explain it away with quotes like "harmless banter, heat of the battle, nothing untoward out there, a friendly exchange, part of the game, international cricket is competitive etc etc" which then ensures that both parties provide a bit of protection for each other and the case is then judged through more tolerant eyes.

Isn't it funny how similar incidents involving Benn and Gambhir weren't explained away so casually? Would Styris have been that forgiving if his opponent had been Benn or Gambhir? Or is just something unique about Australia v New Zealand that makes this, as Styris said, “nothing more than normal”. “The Australians play good competitive cricket and I'd like to think that we'll match them in that competitiveness; there wasn't anything untoward out there,” he said. On the question of a head clash, he actually feigns some ignorance, claiming only that "he might have come quite close. I don't know, he may have done."

Perhaps it's a cultural thing where some cultures are more accustomed to this sort of competitiveness on the field, which would explain both Johnson and Stryris being relatively unfazed by the incident. The problem with this convenient explanation is that these same cricketers generally seem to be much less relaxed when their opponents don't share the same cultural values.

Also, the argument fails on another front too; considering that Chris Broad was Match Referee for the Benn and Gambhir incidents, you would think that he too would share similar laissez-faire views on these sorts of incidents. Instead, surprisingly, we find that Ranjan Madugalle is the only Match Referee who shares the Aussie-Kiwi sense of competitiveness that Styris dismissed so casually.

The inherent danger with adopting a cultural tolerance when ruling on such cases is that it then becomes open to suggestions of bias, based on race, ethnicity or colour, even if it was never intended that way. Cricket's family is too global and too dispersed to allow such latitude in interpreting the rules of engagement. As we saw a few years ago, Brad Hogg was given a slap on the wrist for calling an Indian player a "bast***" because it was deemed that in his cultural make-up, such an insult was not too offensive but to another person from a different background, this might be a deep insult.

With something like physical contact, why should there be any grey areas of uncertainty? If you make deliberate contact with an opponent, how can one player cop a two-match penalty and the other get a small fine? Oh, that's right - plead guilty and you can play the next game. Easy as that. Cop a small fine, pay it from petty cash reserves and put it down to "good competitive cricket". And when you do it again in three months time, plead guilty again and so it goes. Meanwhile, some other players who fight for justice cop two-match bans. That's justice?

Interestingly, in todays Australian newspaper, the coverage of the cricket was buried deep, three pages into the sports section. Completely coincidence of course that Australia lost this match! More revealing was the writer's preview of the incident, referring to "the talkative Styris". Clearly, the Australians keep their mouths shut at all times and only ever get caught up in friendly fire. Poor lambs!

We keep talking of consistency from umpires when it comes to lbw decisions or wide calls or anything else on the field. Likewise, match referees need to adopt a similar stance when dealing with clear breaches that apply to any cricketer, regardless of which country they come from. If not, there will be accusations of bias, of East v West of Rich v Poor. And cricket does not need that sort of divisiveness.

"Justice is a whore that won't let herself be stiffed, and collects the wages of shame even from the poor" said Karl Krauss in The Good Conduct Medal. I tend to think that Anatole France was more on the money in Crainquebille: "Justice is the means by which established injustices are sanctioned".

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

  • Priyadarshan on March 8, 2010, 23:05 GMT

    There is not doubt in my mind about the inconsistency of penalties given to players depending on which team they play for. The administrators can keep yelling from the top of the roof that they are consistent, but justice in these circumstances are not seem to be there. 60% match fee for IInd offence in two months is very lenient and inconsistent.

  • Lou on March 8, 2010, 0:19 GMT

    Great pantomime article, you've managed to suck a pile of people in, well done. If any of you people have seen the footage and really think that it was a headbutt, then all I can say is that you haven't seen a one before have you? I'm not even sure if there was any contact, so I'm not surprised if Styris wasn't either. There was plenty of gobbing on both sides and that was about the size of it.

  • Gapsted on March 7, 2010, 23:22 GMT

    It wasn't a headbutt at all!!! He was staring at Styris in the eye and got too close, not seeing the peak of his helmet. You could see his shock when his forehead touched something and that made Johnson jerk back. There was no forward thrust -- needed if anyone knows anything about what a headbutt really is. Why would anyone want to headbutt someone wearing a helmet anyway -- be serious. This is just the media trying to sell extra papers and get bigger crowds to the matches. Good grief! Much ado about nothing!

  • NzAusSuck on March 7, 2010, 18:43 GMT

    From some posts here..It seems even if NZ and Aus start a physical fight on-field..it wud still be okay..as they are competetive..and know how to laugh it in a bar !!

  • Vijay on March 6, 2010, 19:00 GMT

    For everyone who says / claims that Bhajji called Symods a monkey, I have just 1 question.."Where is the proof??" No mikes caught it - On field UMPIRES did NOT report it - It is ONLY Symonds and Aussies CLAIM Vs Bhajjis denial (He admits he use Maaki - which is an abuse) So it is the Aussie word Vs the Indian word - So why shd Bhajji have been castigated in the first case by the Match Referee? Again THIS is Bias. Is this how cases are heard in Australia? An accuser accuses, a defendant denies - NO EVIDENCE and the defendent is pronounced Guilty!! Wow - I must admire tha Aussie way.....

  • Poulos on March 5, 2010, 22:44 GMT

    I find it rather discomforting if you get paid to write such bias articles on your opinion of bias.

    Regardless of what "should" have been the best result, your calls for justice are misaligned.

    Australia and NZ are built on rich and tough sporting cultures so something like this isn't foreign to the local viewer. While I don't condone the behaviour, it is not worthy of suspension.

  • Ash on March 5, 2010, 22:27 GMT

    I would like to say one thing to all the people who are tryingt to defend Johnson.Firstly, cricket is not a contact sport so any Physical contact is a BIG NO NO !Secondly, talking about being Fair and Competitive..Aust side lead my Ponting is so FAIR ...NOT!

    Rewind and go back to the Syd test b/w India and Aust.It was full of cheating and Aust was trying hook and crook not to loose that match.And if we folks consider that match as a for Aust and a fair game think we need to revisit our values again..it no more a gentleman's game for sure but full on cheating is highly unacceptable and no one uters a single word on that.There are heaps of incidents like that where Ponting and co behave like cry babies and they can not accept that theie domination is over.He and his mates need to be given lessons on sportsman spirit and moral values.

  • amol on March 5, 2010, 20:48 GMT

    Is this not a Level 3 offence?? 2.3.2 Threat of assault on another Player, Player Support Personnel, or any other person (including a spectator) during an International Match.

  • amol on March 5, 2010, 20:48 GMT

    Is this not a Level 3 offence?? 2.3.2 Threat of assault on another Player, Player Support Personnel, or any other person (including a spectator) during an International Match.

  • teak on March 5, 2010, 15:51 GMT

    "it was clear that he headbutted Styris"... i watched the match, and it was far from clear... in fact i didnt think he headbutted him at all... to say so is nothing less than slanderous...

  • Priyadarshan on March 8, 2010, 23:05 GMT

    There is not doubt in my mind about the inconsistency of penalties given to players depending on which team they play for. The administrators can keep yelling from the top of the roof that they are consistent, but justice in these circumstances are not seem to be there. 60% match fee for IInd offence in two months is very lenient and inconsistent.

  • Lou on March 8, 2010, 0:19 GMT

    Great pantomime article, you've managed to suck a pile of people in, well done. If any of you people have seen the footage and really think that it was a headbutt, then all I can say is that you haven't seen a one before have you? I'm not even sure if there was any contact, so I'm not surprised if Styris wasn't either. There was plenty of gobbing on both sides and that was about the size of it.

  • Gapsted on March 7, 2010, 23:22 GMT

    It wasn't a headbutt at all!!! He was staring at Styris in the eye and got too close, not seeing the peak of his helmet. You could see his shock when his forehead touched something and that made Johnson jerk back. There was no forward thrust -- needed if anyone knows anything about what a headbutt really is. Why would anyone want to headbutt someone wearing a helmet anyway -- be serious. This is just the media trying to sell extra papers and get bigger crowds to the matches. Good grief! Much ado about nothing!

  • NzAusSuck on March 7, 2010, 18:43 GMT

    From some posts here..It seems even if NZ and Aus start a physical fight on-field..it wud still be okay..as they are competetive..and know how to laugh it in a bar !!

  • Vijay on March 6, 2010, 19:00 GMT

    For everyone who says / claims that Bhajji called Symods a monkey, I have just 1 question.."Where is the proof??" No mikes caught it - On field UMPIRES did NOT report it - It is ONLY Symonds and Aussies CLAIM Vs Bhajjis denial (He admits he use Maaki - which is an abuse) So it is the Aussie word Vs the Indian word - So why shd Bhajji have been castigated in the first case by the Match Referee? Again THIS is Bias. Is this how cases are heard in Australia? An accuser accuses, a defendant denies - NO EVIDENCE and the defendent is pronounced Guilty!! Wow - I must admire tha Aussie way.....

  • Poulos on March 5, 2010, 22:44 GMT

    I find it rather discomforting if you get paid to write such bias articles on your opinion of bias.

    Regardless of what "should" have been the best result, your calls for justice are misaligned.

    Australia and NZ are built on rich and tough sporting cultures so something like this isn't foreign to the local viewer. While I don't condone the behaviour, it is not worthy of suspension.

  • Ash on March 5, 2010, 22:27 GMT

    I would like to say one thing to all the people who are tryingt to defend Johnson.Firstly, cricket is not a contact sport so any Physical contact is a BIG NO NO !Secondly, talking about being Fair and Competitive..Aust side lead my Ponting is so FAIR ...NOT!

    Rewind and go back to the Syd test b/w India and Aust.It was full of cheating and Aust was trying hook and crook not to loose that match.And if we folks consider that match as a for Aust and a fair game think we need to revisit our values again..it no more a gentleman's game for sure but full on cheating is highly unacceptable and no one uters a single word on that.There are heaps of incidents like that where Ponting and co behave like cry babies and they can not accept that theie domination is over.He and his mates need to be given lessons on sportsman spirit and moral values.

  • amol on March 5, 2010, 20:48 GMT

    Is this not a Level 3 offence?? 2.3.2 Threat of assault on another Player, Player Support Personnel, or any other person (including a spectator) during an International Match.

  • amol on March 5, 2010, 20:48 GMT

    Is this not a Level 3 offence?? 2.3.2 Threat of assault on another Player, Player Support Personnel, or any other person (including a spectator) during an International Match.

  • teak on March 5, 2010, 15:51 GMT

    "it was clear that he headbutted Styris"... i watched the match, and it was far from clear... in fact i didnt think he headbutted him at all... to say so is nothing less than slanderous...

  • Muneer on March 5, 2010, 14:59 GMT

    Spot on... ICC needs to explain how aus-nz-eng cricketers get away with such offences whereas others get banned.

  • ashtung on March 5, 2010, 14:05 GMT

    for all those heavy-in-the-heads 'cricket-lovers' who love a bit of scuffle, please change your loyalties, because, cricket by definition, is a NO-CONTACT sport...

    If all you aussies and NZ want some action outside of sports, please take your rivalries to rugby (or have gutless refs)

  • cris on March 5, 2010, 13:30 GMT

    if i was playing a guy who lost his temper, played more eratically, and in doing so, allowed me to win, and if i was to play his team again in a few days, i would want him playing, whether he was due a suspension or not. i'm not saying that's what styris wanted, just countering the insinuation that he's somehow racist. quite the leap, if you ask me.

    any bias here lies with the officials and to me, the writer's suggestions are difficult to believe. as a fan of NZ cricket, to suggest we have any power in the conduct of world cricketing officialdom is just misleading nonsense. we can't even get a 13 year ICC rep with impeccable credentials nominated over mr john "diversity" howard whose cricketing experience is best summed up when he can't even bowl a ball the length of a pitch.

  • NZer on March 5, 2010, 13:28 GMT

    get over it. I loved the "banter". Just a simple expression of rival siblings on the field. We are ANZAC's when required, if you don't know what that is, keep your opinion to yourself. With regards to the racial bias accusations, I simply cannot follow your logic, your argument seems to be based more on your own prejudice than actual fact. Surely, if you actually had a case against our cricket administrators, that they had made a single racial bias decision, they would be stood down. Racial bias is primitive and stupid and is not present at all in our modern game.

  • Swami on March 5, 2010, 12:56 GMT

    Add to it James Anderson shoulder charging Runako Morton and getting fined 50% of his match fees ! And Dhoni gets banned for 3 matches for being 3 overs late !

  • Sriram on March 5, 2010, 12:52 GMT

    @Brett Thompson: Mate no one will never know the truth as to whether Harbhajan called Symonds that dreaded word, and Symonds too got away for provoking Harbhajan, so its even stevens. Lets faze it Aussies have mastered the art of provoking opponents and its time all others learn this fine ancient art of friendly banter that Aussies have patented.

  • andrew schulz on March 5, 2010, 12:50 GMT

    Oh, and one other thing, Michael Jeh. You say that Brad Hogg was let off with a slap on the wrist after his 'Bastard' comment. The charge was actually a political manouvre which was withdrawn by the Indians before it went anywhere. It's great to get some clever quotes about justice to augment your dubious arguments, but don't talk about justice in specific situations if you can't get your facts right on any of them.

  • andrew schulz on March 5, 2010, 12:43 GMT

    Michael Jeh, your follow-up comment reveals a really muddled head. You suggest whether contact was made is now a matter of opinion, and then you carry on as though it were a given. You compare it to the Harbhajan racial slur and question why that couldn't have been treated the same way. This is mindbogglingly inane. Because racism is a blight on the game which needs to be wiped out and Harbhajan was a repeat offender. It was in the code for it to be reported, and the Aussies would have been in breach of contract if they had not. For you to bring this event up in this context is mindblowing. Your article and later follow-up is one of someone who has no clue. Your respondents have been very easy on you.

  • Morgan on March 5, 2010, 12:39 GMT

    I understand how you guys feel about Australia getting the golden treatment, I am from New Zealand and think Johnson should have been suspended aswell, but dont blame Scotty Styris for what he said, he was left out of the team that played bangladesh and was 12man... He has to stay polite and defensive in his position.

    I think it was Johnson who should have got banned, and Styris should have got a fine.. If it was the other way round, then I would blame SCotty also.. I wouldnt be so quick to Judge NZ in the same catagory as Australia.

  • waterbuffalo on March 5, 2010, 12:02 GMT

    I'm looking forward to the Aussies playing in the IPL, what goes around comes around. Good luck. Don't expect hugs and kisses.

  • Jediroya on March 5, 2010, 11:41 GMT

    Banning Mitchell Johnson would only punish the opposition - no more wides and free runs.

  • Monty on March 5, 2010, 10:18 GMT

    Atila, you have it spot on. As for the author, I'm surprised you are able to get pen to paper, for all the cotton wool you are wrapped up in. When the two school bullies set about each other in the yard, the teachers don't intervene, they sit back, take bets and watch the entertainment. The problem is that there is a right and a wrong way to stand your ground and make your assertiveness known. Australia and New Zealand do this well, and take pride in not giving an inch to each other. At the same time they get each other's respect. They play hard, sure, but fair. When Benn laid his "tackle" he overdid the agression and got what was coming to him. The great West Indians of the past would not have resorted to such a weak sniper attack. Personally I'd be happy for Johnson to miss a few games, don't get many out caught at 2nd slip playing away from their body in one dayers, but not for touching his forehead on Styris' helmet. Who knows, in America, if he'd been injured, he might have sued!

  • JAYANDHAN on March 5, 2010, 9:21 GMT

    I think everyone favouring Johnson has forgotten one thing, Cricket is supposed to be a "Gentleman's game". What ever Johnson did, it was not even close to "gentlemanly". In this case the Match refree is to blame for creating this situation. How is that Gambhir "delibrately elbowed" watson, while Johnson only "tried to intimidate" Styris. It has to be noted, that the Aussies initiated the conforntation in both these cases. As for BCCI's "arm twisting" in the Symonds-Harbhajan episode, how come the word "casual banter" is not applied and it is reserved only for the Aussies. The "arm twisting" wouldnt have happened at all, if Harbhajan was tried fairly. Double standards!

  • GD on March 5, 2010, 8:56 GMT

    Absolutely spot on Michael! If Gambhir and Benn deserved match bans, then so did Johnson. The contact by him was clear to see. (And he had already been fined for his part in the Benn-Haddin incident...isn't that a prior?)

  • Karthi Keyan on March 5, 2010, 8:41 GMT

    The writing is on the wall: a day will come when there will be more than words exchanged, some blood will be spilt and worst of all, the crowds will get involved. And, clearly, no one but the ICC will be to blame. High time the ICC woke up and made amends. This just cannot go on.

  • simon on March 5, 2010, 7:55 GMT

    This piece raises some interesting issues, but I find the analysis to be a little cheap and shallow. The main difference between this incident and those involving Benn and Gambhir is that there was no disagreement between Johnson and Styris over the nature of the incident. They were both happy enough with the fairness of what went on between them. Then they both agreed that, according to the laws, things went a little too far, and took their punishment for that.

  • David Neal on March 5, 2010, 7:52 GMT

    Going by the number of posts there is a lot of "heat" after the incident, among fans, who can see the double-standards. The law is the law is the law whether played by Sri Lanka/India or Australia/New Zealand. I thought Chris Broad was being racist when he fined Benn, perhaps just because he pleasede not-guilty while the other two didn't. But what was he pleading against? In this case. Madugalle, for reasons best known to him, gives a man a 60% fine, and then doesn't send him to the cooler. A 60% fine alone is evidence of a flagrant violation. The contest on the field is superb, no doubt about that. I love seeing Australia get taken down a peg or two. But knowing that this things are brushed under the carpet is sickening. Perhaps Madugalle feels he is "sharpening the edge" by letting Johnson play. I just wish he gets hits for 6s and 4s and shows his true colours.

  • dmc on March 5, 2010, 7:42 GMT

    "Would Styris have been that forgiving if his opponent had been Benn or Gambhir?"

    Yes he would have been, as anyone who knows him would testify. Implying that he wouldn't shows that a) you don't know him at all b) that you are judging him on other criteria such as race/nationality, which leds me to conclude c) you are more inclined to judge/react on racial/national grounds than Styris.

    While your blog raises important issues, you do them great injustice by not only offering a superficial exploration of them, making quite astounding conclusions based on a complete lack of tangible evidence. Very disappointing for this simplistic and subjective viewpoint being lauded for its great insightfulness and accuracy. Whether or not racism and/or biasm are a significant problem in international cricket or not; your argument, I don't know, but I certainly will not take your article as offering any substantive evidence either way. Populist drivel. Fail.

  • San on March 5, 2010, 7:35 GMT

    Different Strokes even in posting the comments..My comment earlier today did not get posted...Was it beacuse of Indian Bias ?

  • Dave on March 5, 2010, 7:33 GMT

    I agree, he should have been suspended. But I notice you brought up the Brad Hogg "Bast*rd" incident. What about the "Monkey" incident between Harbajhan Singh and Andrew Symonds? A racial slur was allowed to pass as it was considered acceptable within the Indian culture.

    Personally, I think they should have all been dealt with a lot harsher than they were.

  • selvakumaran on March 5, 2010, 7:13 GMT

    Its very clear explainations, let ICC decide who suppossed to be the neutral match refree. Its looks like system to be overhauled, all one sided judgement.

  • a on March 5, 2010, 6:54 GMT

    @Jack at March 4, 2010 9:48 PM

    Well done mate, you have summarised everything that needs to be said about this in a few lines. The reason why it seems that Bhajji is the worst offender is because he was fined. Look at the footage of Shane Warne. To think that I once looked up to that fool is a disgrace. His behaviour was attrocious with him throwing the ball at batsman etc much worse than anything Bhajji has done. Look at Pontings record. Its shit. In junior cricket in Australia, you are taught to sledge with it often going out of context but no one reprimanding the children meaning they learn that what they do is right. The whole attitude in Australia is wrong. They can do whatever they wish but if someone else does it, they're going to have a cry about. In this case, due to the whole incident being a friendly thing, I think Mitchell Johnson was allowed to be let off easily but not this easily. He is a repeat offender. I think he should have received a 1 match ban, no more, no less

  • Gautham on March 5, 2010, 6:45 GMT

    What ever happens....The ozzies get marked coz they r a champion team...So many other teams commit mistakes and never even get noticed...Let's give it a break...THE OZZIES R THE BEST!

  • tired of whingers on March 5, 2010, 6:29 GMT

    when you have easily been the best team in the world for the past two decades (as australia have been) you will always have supporters and journalists from other countries complaining about the best teams behaviour ...most of the frustration stems from jealousy..australia will continue to be categorised as bullies until such time that another team can knock them off their perch (for a significant period of time)..and if that ever happens we can all start whingeing about the behaviour of the next powerhouse in world cricket

  • bintangmerah on March 5, 2010, 6:04 GMT

    Enough with the Aussie-bashing and chip on your shoulders stuff already. I have to admit that, not having cable, I only saw the "headbutt" on the news, but it looked pretty tame. It was hard to tell whether he had actually done it on purpose, or whether he was trying to intimidate by getting closer to Styris and accidentally hit the brim of his helmet---which would have hurt him a lot more than Styris. The clash was verbal, and Styris gave as good as he got. I have never sledged, and I am not a fan of sledging. I am certainly not a supporter of the "win by getting inside their heads" school of sport. And I would have thought nothing of it if Johnson had been banned for an ODI, given the earlier Benn incident. But it is important that he pleaded guilty in both cases, and the officials seem to have sought to apply the rules according to their guidelines. All the claims of double standards and racism seem to me an attempt to intimidate officials, and to be a case of pots calling kettles.

  • Sean on March 5, 2010, 6:00 GMT

    Gambhir's one test ban was appropriate. Hanging the left elbow out at Watson was his second level 2 offense. Previously, Gambhir was fined 65% of his match fee for his run-in with Afridi in 2007 while batting in an ODI in Kanpur. In that case, he was found guilty of a Level 2 charge of inappropriate and deliberate physical contact between players as well as a Level 1 charge of not conducting himself within the spirit of the game. (as reported by Cricinfo)

  • IwannaBeHadlee on March 5, 2010, 6:00 GMT

    Meh, make a mountain out of a molehill. Johnson got slammed for two 4s in two balls, he had a little cry. Tried to blame Styris for his crap bowling and Styris's stunning form. But I also remember the commentators talking about a clash during Johnsons follow through and Styris. This wasnt shown on tv or isnt mentioned anywhere else. End of the day We won. Australia Lost. Thats all that matters

  • rohan on March 5, 2010, 5:54 GMT

    I have no idea whether this has already been said. Did it occur to the writer that the reason Styris 'plead ignorance' was that there actually was no contact? each camera angle shows him appearing to fein a headbutt. Styris did not move at all, no reaction from his head. It just seems that if Styris did not think there was anything in it then maybe there was not. It was during a heated exchange but you see 2 pretty inconclusive camera angles, suddenly Johnson has headbutted a helmet wearing Styris. Fast bowlers aren't that stupid. Why then do you go into an argument about race and different cultures applying different standards ? If that exact incident happened between any other nations where one has to assume no contact was actually made, and neither party complianed about it, would you then think of it differently are getting away with it? It is convenient to play the australians are getting away with it card without having proof of contact or an actual complaint made.

  • Mohan on March 5, 2010, 5:54 GMT

    I think the umpires are blinds in some situations especially in Australia or NZ. I think JOhnson should be banned for one game. It is his third incident in 15 months. HOw can he go with only 60% penalty. It is weird decision that the umpire has taken. ICC should have guideline about this matter. It is no fair for cricket world and some cricket players at this stage.

  • jim76 on March 5, 2010, 5:53 GMT

    i love good tuff cricket, the clash was nothing,im an aussie supporter and styris got under MJ skin then Styris one the game for NZL, so for me its good drama, they clashed but no punches were thrown, we dont really know what was said and i dont want too, spirit of cricket is still there but Australia has a love hate relationship, its a contest and there putting 110% on the field for there country and sometimes emotions get carried away, dont suspend no one, let the battle commence ,its been going on for years, club cricket state or playing for country.

  • Steve Sinclair on March 5, 2010, 5:43 GMT

    Real anti-Australian feel to your writing Michael, who do you support I am guessing it is not the Aussies! Where is your objectivity mate ? The aussies play close to the line no doubt & sometimes take things to far for sure but no more than any other country ( Gavaskar ordering his batting partner off the ground in a test match after being given out LBW, Harbhajan calling Symonds a monkey, we could stay here all day). Aussies & Kiwis play it hard & are fierce rivals but respect each other because they do not whinge & make mountains out of molehills unlike other test playing nations who shall remain nameless.

  • Jonesy on March 5, 2010, 5:38 GMT

    Gambhir - elbows the bowler when running past Watson, deliberately Also did the same thing a couple of years before running into Shahid Afridi. I would say that this is much more unacceptable than having some words and a poorly executed headbutt and people on this forum are saying they're one and the same! Benn - While Haddin was running Benn was fielding the ball, they collided and Johnson stepped in to calm things down. People on this forum are saying that Johnson is a repeat offender because of that?!

  • Rahul on March 5, 2010, 5:09 GMT

    Nice article Michael. I completely agree.

  • danzab on March 5, 2010, 4:58 GMT

    Apologies Michael for my previous comment, your allowed your opinion just as long as disagreements are allowed as well, which you actually have left. I enjoyed your other articles though you just hit a nerve. Regards,

  • ponting nowhere on March 5, 2010, 4:28 GMT

    And lets not keep saying Gambhir got fined because he didnt pleasd guilty. Use google and do your research before making such statements. Gambhir pleaded guilty to the level 2 offense and was still given the ban. After which, an appeal was made against the ban.

  • Ashok Sridharan on March 5, 2010, 4:24 GMT

    Excellent article Mr. Jeh. Fans from the subcontinent have been crying out since ages that ICC refrees follow different yardsticks for different nationalities.

    And in case I sound like a biased Indian, let me point out the incident between Gayle and Clarke in the Champions Trophy 2006 when Gayle was fined. Not surprisingly, the match refree then conveniently ignored the fact that the provocation came from elsewhere. As for the Watson-Gambhir episode, I wonder why no one mentions Katich screaming at Gambhir for a collision that he was himself responsible for. Needless to say, the match refree overlooked that incident too.

  • Ponting Fingers on March 5, 2010, 4:23 GMT

    There need to be clear guidelines/ rules regarding physical contact as well as overt verbal abuse in Cricket. That is the only way to make it uniform and non-subjective. It should not matter that NZ guys think its ok that Mitch touched Styris on the helmet whereas someone from SL thinks that kind of contact is not ok. A rule has to be simple and clear (ofcourse only if ICC wants to discourage it).

    It should be fairly easy to implement for physical contact at least. I am not aware of other games say field hockey where people discuss the cultural context to figure out if a stick check is an offence and the severity of it.

    If this is not in place, one will always cases like Harbhajan (claims Maa Ki, which is a commonly used abuse in India, Ozzies claim its racial since he said Monkey) or Hogg (claims Bastard is an accepted word in Australia, India claims its an offensive word). But then... expecting ICC to do something useful?!! Nah mate! Dream on...

  • Cricket_Fan on March 5, 2010, 4:13 GMT

    R33GZ - Match referee ia a wanabee Aussie.

  • Sefal Khan on March 5, 2010, 4:11 GMT

    I am glad you wrote this. If a Pakistani had written this - he/she would have been considered whining. Aussies never get punished for their bad behaviour.

  • Steve on March 5, 2010, 4:10 GMT

    As an Aussie it goads me no end that commentators particularly from the sub continent consistantly put the blame for poor standards by match referrees at the feet of Australians. It's like blaming the criminal for the sentence handed down by the judge. Yes physical contact should be ruled out. Yes Johnson is a repeat offender and yes his antics are borish even for the most strident Aussie fan but the sentence handed down is not his fault.

  • Richard Kaz on March 5, 2010, 4:10 GMT

    We live in a world where people of colour in positions of authority over westerners have to always prove themselves as unbiased to avoid squeals of bias by the western media. Madugalle's actions have to be taken in that context. While at the same time, westerners like Chris Broad can be unashamedly biased and no one in the western media will even blink an eyelid.

  • Jack on March 5, 2010, 4:07 GMT

    Good article. Please send it to ICC, BCCI, CA and other cricket boards and also to the media and the match referees.

  • Ash on March 5, 2010, 3:54 GMT

    It is another example of ICC's double standards.. something to really think about

    Incident 1 : Watson provokes and clashes with Gambhir.poor Gambhir is banned for 2 really crucial matches.

    Incident 2 : Suleiman Benn clashed with Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson.Benn is banned & nothing happens to the aussies

    Latest incident ... Johnson head-butts Styris and he is only fined 60% fees which is peanuts for him.

    Why wasn't he banned? Seems ICC is discriminating on the basis of race,color and nationality.Physical contact of any sort is a BIG NO NO..there are no grey areas and no ifs and buts.Has this been our poor Sri or Bhaji they wld have been handed out a very severe penalty

    BCCI needs to wake up to this gross injustice..

    My question to all the fans back home is..why shld we tolerate and accept such injustice ?

  • Greg Ranger on March 5, 2010, 3:51 GMT

    Michael Jeh, and to all other readers, Mitchell JOHNSON is a serial offender??? Pleeeese, Sulieman BENN was the instigator in the other incident as decreed by the match referee, not JOHNSON! Scott Styris has not made any issue of this latest incident, why are you trying to make something out of nothing? This is a cultural issue, in Australia, winning and being competitive is in our nature, there are two umpires in the middle, match referee, etc, they are in the best position to make judgements on players behaviour. Mitchell JOHNSON is a passionate cricketer, as is Scott STYRIS, I only wish for NZ crickets sake they could show the same passion in World Cups, test matches. They seem to accept mediocrity sub standard performances, as do a lot of other countries. So does it mean as much representing your country as it does to Aussies? I don't think so. Why does Australia dominate World Cricket and win just about every trophy on offer? So I am sorry I beg to differ. AUSSIE AUSSIE, OI, OI,

  • James on March 5, 2010, 3:39 GMT

    I think you only make one good point in this article, which is " One explanation is that the Australians and New Zealanders know how to play it just that bit smarter when it comes to limiting the post-match post-mortems". If you re-read the cricinfo article regarding the incident, you'll see Johnson escaped a larger penalty because he pleaded guilty. If he had contested the issue, then I'm sure he would have copped a ban of some sort. The physical contact was also much lighter than Watson-Ghambir or Benn, as Styris was quoted as saying that he wasn't even sure if they clashed heads.

  • Robert on March 5, 2010, 3:19 GMT

    While I would not want to condone this incident, I'd like some consistancy in reporting too. You admit yourself of this contact: "albeit fairly lightly" and Johnson entered a guilty plea both times (the fine has escalated accordingly), while the Benn incident was a heavy grapple with a not guilty plea despite the clear evidence. In any court (sports or civil) Benn's punishment would have been the more severe. I do agree however that codifying incidents and their punishments along with clearly defining or removing the ambiguous "Spirit of cricket" clause would go a long way to improving consistancy of rulings and even to restoring the ICCs power to govern cricket. Events like the infamous Sydney test, the ICL/IPL conflict and the Daryl Hair debacle, have shown that the ICC is impotent and/or incompetant. Journalists are keen to stir up the race card, so ignore that the inconsistancies go both ways. If the ICC doesn't take some control soon, I have little faith in the future of cricket.

  • Mick on March 5, 2010, 3:16 GMT

    Personally I think the only person who was hard done by in all of this was Benn. Gambhir's offence was fairly blatant and he got what he deserved, but Benn got the raw deal, his contact certainly looked accidental to me.

  • Gopal on March 5, 2010, 2:41 GMT

    An Excellent article Michael,you are absolutely spot on.I don't understand why is the Australians who always get away with scot free.Mitchell Johnson should have been banned for a couple of matches for barging styris considering the fact that this is the second time he was involved in such an incident in the last three months.Until and unless he is punished he will continue to behave in such manner. The match referees also need to hand out stricter punishments so that such offences are not repeated.I have noticed that Chris broad and Ranjan Madugalle are the worst and the most biased referees to have graced cricket.it's high time the ICC takes action against these two jokers.

  • Andrew on March 5, 2010, 2:38 GMT

    I think you're completely overeacting. If you look at the incident there was seriously not a lot to it and if you think there was any malice in the so called "physical contact" you are kidding yourself. There was no harm done, both guys are able to get over it and leave it on the field and both guys are able to recognise it for the minor incident it was. I think some perspective is needed instead of seeing paranoid conspiracies around every corner. I applaud the match referee for treating this as the very minor incident it was - perhaps it's other match referees that need to get a bit of perspective themselves.

  • Heers on March 5, 2010, 2:36 GMT

    Superb article, cricket needs to be kept as gentleman's game and avoid contact however soft intentionally it might me, keeping consistent penalty is important particularly non-monetory ones. Australia is the best performing team in the world, but not surprising disliked by cricket fans around the globe including few aussies themselves because of such incidents and ugly tactics used.

  • Dinakar on March 5, 2010, 2:32 GMT

    I know, you are so true and speaking your mind. I can assure that many aussie fans would look at this again as typical Indian bias. I just don't understand the ways of australian team they have resorted to these crude tactics whenever they are not winning. So the question is when would aussie team members realize their behaviour is against sportive spirit.

  • nawaf on March 5, 2010, 2:23 GMT

    Interesting we say that Brad used a swear word and got a "slap on his wrist". Can you tell me how many times the Indian and Pakistani bowlers swear using their mother tongue when playing against NZ,Aus and Eng batsmen. Oh in this case these batsmen do not understand what has been said... And yeah we can read their lips on TV.. so please stop being biased yourself.

  • floyd on March 5, 2010, 2:18 GMT

    I fail to see what the big fuss is about. Im a kiwi and have no problem what so ever with the actions of either Johnson or Styris. I belive the incident is exatcly what both camps are saying it is - Competitive guys get a bit carried away in the heat of the moment and no big deal. I cant coment on the previous (Ben , Gambhir) incidents as I did not see them but in seclusion this incident bearly deserves a mention. All the above talk of race, rich v poor etc etc seems a major and some what ridiculous over reaction.

  • Trevor on March 5, 2010, 2:11 GMT

    You should be ashamed of yourself, this article was full of blatant racial overtones. Simple fact is that if you plead guilty you get a more lenient sentence, get over it. And your hypocrisy is undeniable, what were you saying when Harbie Singh was let off without any punishment for racially abusing Symonds? I can almost bet every dollar that you were firmly on the side of the very guilty Harbie! You guys need to get rid of the sizable chip you have on your shoulders and stop blaming everything on the Aussies. As if your lot are a bunch of angels? I think not.

  • fairdinkum on March 5, 2010, 2:06 GMT

    I am glad a subcontinental referee saw fit to judge the situation correctly and issue only fines to Johnson and Styris. There is no complaint from the players who do not need to seek media support to sledge the opposition. Johnson tried to get inside Styris' head, Styris resisted and NZ won. Simple as that. NZ wouldn't expect anything else and it draws a sellout crowd for the contest. What is so disappointing in other arenas is where players make snide remarks in the media afterwards about how the Aussies don't like when you front up to them. Rubbish! they love it. Kiwis love it and makes a great contest. Keep it up you guys

  • Graham on March 5, 2010, 1:59 GMT

    I don't think Benn or Gambhir should've been suspended - this is just good aggressive play by both sides. We're not playing backyard cricket - this is international cricket - you get upset when you're not doing as well as you want to. Yes, Australia is fiercely competitive and arrogant to an extent - but not bullies. You need to be to succeed in most sports (and life!).

    Get with the game guys - harden up or come second!

  • paulyt on March 5, 2010, 1:53 GMT

    What a load of rubbish this is. Just take a look at this article from one of Australia's biggest selling newspaper The headline is "Mitchell Johnson must be suspended" There is a poll on the site asking if Johnson should be suspended - Out of the 1720 votes 66.8% say yes. Check your facts before throwing accusations around. http://www.heraldsun.com.au/sport/mitchell-johnson-must-be-suspended/story-e6frf9if-1225837164647?from=cricket+australia_rss

  • Imran on March 5, 2010, 1:50 GMT

    Australia is a country who always do or provoke the opponent when they feel danger of losing the matches. Even they pressurize the opponent before start of any series particulary strong opponent. They are the team, no doubt good team always benefitted with ICC rules. The referee's more sympathesize with the team, may be they affraid that they are too powerful and strong presence in ICC decision making. Now we are going to have an Ex-PM as ICC chairman. What will happen to minnows test / ODI playing countries. Lets hope the ICC will open its eyes in making decision equally for every test/ ODI countries.

  • Cricfan on March 5, 2010, 1:50 GMT

    Total hypocrisy, this double standard happens way too often and the match referee was too gullible to believe the Aussies.

  • ScottNZ on March 5, 2010, 1:45 GMT

    The difference is in the please when you face the tribunial. In Benn's and Gambhir's situations they booth please not guilty. Johnson and Styris please guilty and you get a more leniant punishment, this is the same in any court around the world.

    However in saying that, normally pleasding guilty to your third strike will not get you leniancy, Mitchell Johnson is a repeat offender and for that fact alone he should of faced a ban.

    With regards to this incident, nothing in it, happens all the time between Kiwi's and Aussies however it does need to be dealt with by match ref's and if you are a repeat offender of these sort of incidents then you should be banned after your 2nd or 3rd warning in my opinion.

  • Mick on March 5, 2010, 1:44 GMT

    As an Australian I can say that however people perceive we play the game in this counttry - deliberate physical contact on the field is a No No and should be punished. Who was responsible for this contact? Well it could be argued (probably by the match referee) that it wasn't clearly Johnson's fault - however I'd have to say he is extremely lucky. "Banter" is fine. Physical contact? No.

  • Chucker on March 5, 2010, 1:34 GMT

    Johnson's behaviour was inexcusable, so if he dishes it out, he has to learn to cop it back as well. But I would prefer this behaviour any day ,to the constant umpire intimidation on field and at post match media conferences that the Indian cricketers and management have perfected.

  • David on March 5, 2010, 1:34 GMT

    Thank you for the great article. The Australian team is packed with talent but they have never been good at losing. McGrath was probably one of the worse offenders and always seemed to think it was OK for him to sledge but a mortal insult if anyone said a word to him. Johnson is very similar - his record in New Zealand is terrible and when his heavy bowling cant get the results he crumbles. Well done to Styris - I have no idea what he is guilty of. I hope the powers that be can find some consistency.

  • Anil on March 5, 2010, 1:31 GMT

    That's the reason even after 100+ years Cricket is still restricted to 12-15 nations - Double standards precedent established by England and Australia

  • Mike on March 5, 2010, 1:25 GMT

    I think its funny that everyone except the people involved think this is bad for the game. We have seen 3 players come out after the game and praise the aggression and passion the teams/players were showing. This is a tough game. Not bloody golf. Testosterone is thrown around the place and makes for a much better contest. I love how styris had no complaints. He is a tough cricketer and see's nothing wrong with it. I bet he even prefers it that way.

    If we want to turn this game into a gentleman's game again then we lose a lot in terms of entertainment.

    But i agree with Aarom @ 8:29. Johnson is the type of bowler to blow his top when things don't go his way. Maybe he should learn to use the ball instead of spear it like a native and he might have some more rewards. If his across the right hander line isn't working he really does struggle. Thats why Gambhir and sehwag have so much fun against him. He has one ball. 2 if the conditions suit. Where's that slower ball he was good at?

  • Wade on March 5, 2010, 1:21 GMT

    I believe Styris had no choice but to stand his ground against Johnson. Having played both Cricket and Football at a pretty decent level I know the only way to beat a superior side on paper is to get inside their headspace while executing a good game plan which negates the opposite team's edge. This is what Styris was continuing with when Johnson lost his mind and turned abusive. It is a joke he wasn't banned. Styris (Who has to be one of the most underrated performers in World Cricket)was fined too for merely standing his ground against the real offender! Simply Ridiculous! I also object strongly to any claims saying there is bais to the detriment of India and co. Rubbish!! Rubbish!! Rubbish!! Anyone who is honest and takes a good look at World Cricket knows India basically runs the game. Any Indian fan who thinks they are mistreated needs to grow a brain!

  • Len White on March 5, 2010, 1:20 GMT

    Thanks for pointing out the double standard, but it seems as though there is a need to dig even deeper and examine the bias that might be at work. Maybe that bias may only be cultural, but it very well might also involve race. Those who administer the game need to be made aware that such attitudes are not acceptable and will not be tolerated. One cannot deny Australia's skill and determination, but at times they are like the schoolyard bully who cannot handle when someone stands up to him. They know how to dish it out, but they become petulant whiners and malcontents when the shoe is on their foot. Let's not confuse passion and competitiveness with behaviour which is clearly beyond the pale.

  • danzab on March 5, 2010, 1:19 GMT

    Wow, really good writing, only publishing the comments which are sympathetic to your position. Where's the bias now? Weak.

  • Anonymous on March 5, 2010, 1:13 GMT

    Lets not forget that before bowling the 2nd ball that was smacked to the fence...this tool johnson turned around to Styris signalling he will ball at him on his head. Quite a threat for anybody...then after being belted he had to headbutt the batsman. A tool for headbutting a guy with a helmet. And the so-called authorities only fined him 60%. thats about 20cents compared to my salary againts tool johnson!!.

  • Confused on March 5, 2010, 1:04 GMT

    How is Johnson a repeat offender? From my memory he stepped between Benn and Haddin when they were going at each other and pushed Benn's arm away when it was hanging over his shoulder into the face of his teammate. There's no doubt he's done the wrong thing in this case but he did nothing different to what anyone else would do in the incident with Benn

  • Peter on March 5, 2010, 1:01 GMT

    To folow the thread of the "fine line" of player abuse: do we fine/suspend a player for shaking hands with the opposition? Or patting them on the shoulder? Or helping them to their feet? Of course not. Johnson was confronted by Styris face to face, barely centimetres separating them. One could hardly describe a 3-centimetre nod of the head as a headbut. On the helmet what's more! We had to see it super slomo just to detect it. Do we even know if actual contact was made? The verbal slanging and invasion of personal space from Styris was far more insulting. Let's not get hysterical about such a minor incident.

  • andrew schulz on March 5, 2010, 1:00 GMT

    All the provocation in the Perth incident, every bit of it, was from Benn. Johnson acted very mildly in gently moving Benn away from the batsmen's mid-pitch huddle. If you think there were double standards in the punishment for that incident, you are the biased one. Even though Johnson was found guilty, to call him a repeat offender is dubious, on the basis of that incident. Aaron's final comment is stupid. Could it have simply been a reaction to provocation from Styris? Amateur psychologists don't halp a lot in this situation. Especially very amateur ones.

  • Glenn Bradbury on March 5, 2010, 0:59 GMT

    It's time the ICC posted mandatory penalties for these type of on field offenses. That way both the players and the match referees know where they stand and no could be accused of any sort of bias.

  • Dongles on March 5, 2010, 0:57 GMT

    I agree that Johnson should have been suspended. It is oversimplifying the issue to base the apparent inconsistency on racial grounds. It very debatable and given the inflammatory nature, you should be considered when making such claims. You need to look at the match referees involved for a start - they are not consistent. And someone has already pointed out that Harbhajan is evidence of a "coloured" player being let off when should not have been.

  • Sean on March 5, 2010, 0:56 GMT

    Obviously not too many people bother to read the "Posting Guidlines" on this site. Here's a short extract:

    Avoid insults, rudeness, and personal attacks against writers or fellow commenters. If you can't say what you have to say politely, don't say it at all.

    The following are not allowed under any circumstances:

    racism and accusations of racism comments about bias by officials against specific teams or players comments accusing any player, team or official of match-fixing or of any performance being influenced by betting

    So, most of our sub-continental posters need to pull their heads in a bit.

    Back on subject ... If Benn and Gambhir had plead guilty instead of admitting they too overstepped the line, we wouldn't be asking "Where is the justice?". I like seeing a bit of passion / rivalry / attitude in my cricket.

  • Bob on March 5, 2010, 0:47 GMT

    I agree with Harbajahn on Symonds, pity he didn't extend his comments to Mitchell then I could agree on that too :-)

  • Michael on March 5, 2010, 0:41 GMT

    Physical contact between players has never been as simple as this article makes out. While not condoning Mitchell Johnson's actions at all, there have been many instances of physical contact between players that is widely celebrated by the administration and the public at large - Flintoff putting his hand on Lee to console him in the 2005 Ashes as an example. That was most certainly 'deliberate physical contact', though not of an ugly sort. Having said that, the recent instances of bad blood have crossed the line and brought the game into disrepute - perhaps the penalty for this should be much higher and more strictly enforced, if the administration really wants to stamp out indescretions. This wouldn't just be restricted to physical contact - intimidatory yelling and posturing, excessive appealing, immature celebrations, name calling and even sledging (once it gets past the point of amusing banter) are all bad for the game and should attract harsh penalties.

  • Stoney on March 5, 2010, 0:39 GMT

    Us Aussies needed a bit of a wake up call & to play against a side who stepped up with some pride, guts n determination. No disrespect to Pakistan or the West Indies but its been a bit of a soft summer so far. This is traditional Aussie-Kiwi rivalry, a bit of banter and a fiercely competitive spirit & the better side got up on the day! There was no intentional headbutt & for some members to try to make a racial issue out of this is farcical. The Aussies will be hard enough on themselves for being sidetracked by some clever Kiwi niggle & don't be surprised if Ponting lets Johnson warm the bench for a game or two to teach him to keep his focus on the game, not the man. Well done kiwis n well done Styris for knocking the Aussies off their game plan. Let's hope we play a smarter game next time round n score more runs on a very friendly pitch.

  • Kevin on March 5, 2010, 0:38 GMT

    Nail on the head matey! spot on! buulseye! Gutless, spineless match refs, not fit to do the job entrusted to them

  • clytus on March 5, 2010, 0:26 GMT

    Very good observations made by the writer, however, it should be remembered also that in the India-Australia series some years ago, the Indian board mandated the ICC to replace well respected umpire Bucknor for the remaining test(s). The ICC eventually gave in. Here you have the entire world cricketing body being favourable to a single body at the expense of a well respected gentleman. Note that Tendulkar is not the only batsman in history to be at the receiving end of poor umpiring decisions, Lara has been a few times also but never has the cricketing board threaten to boycott a series. So its not only Australians, New Zealanders that are favoured, just for the record I'm West Indian.

  • Jay on March 5, 2010, 0:19 GMT

    Well written and 100% correct, but it's going to change nothing. The Aussies and Kiwis hate each other's guts but will stick together and say the rest of the cricket playing world are a bunch of whining wankers. Johnson is an unsavoury character and brings his domestic problems onto the field by badmouthing opponents and bashing them, then pleading guilty and just copping a paltry fine. But let us not forget that the Australians are also very very good cricketers and continue to win 90% of the time so success breeds such arrogance. The only way to quiet the Aussies is to beat them fair and square on the field. Can't see that happening in the foreseeable future, they are just too good and have excellent bench strenth.

  • samtheman on March 5, 2010, 0:19 GMT

    Johnson seems to get off in the most lenient ways and will never learn his lesson and the match referee is totally incapable to setting standards when such issues occur. Johnson is a spoilt brat to the extent that if he does not get his way he is abusive and tries to be intimidating and always comes off second best. There is no doubt that bias exists in cricket and you only need to compare various issues like Australia get away with frivolous appeals and yet other teams have received bans. I am an Australian and good to see they are getting to face reality by facing some sort of opposition.

  • Chris NZL on March 5, 2010, 0:01 GMT

    Look I think everybody thats moaning about 'physical contact' should go and watch a game of rugby and wait until there is an actual fight that's worth writing home about. The kind of things that are said away from the Mic I'm sure are far worse then all the little shoulders and nudges. In this case I enjoyed Johnson pointing at his head with the cricket ball because I knew what form Styris was in.

  • Johnny on March 4, 2010, 23:57 GMT

    waaaaah -- the australians are bullies -- waaah -- it's not the spirit of the game -- waaah. Please, grow up lads, it's a sport of men not girls. Let 'em play and it'll all be fine in the morning. Styris stood up to Johnson, and good on him! Instead on whinging on about it, he said, it's all done, lets play some more. Something the sub-continent players should do more often. H.Singh crossed a lot of lines in the sand, and got let off easy -- but he also took a bunch of wickets.... maybe there's a connection. Grow some 'nads or stick to ice-dancing.

  • Edward T Logan on March 4, 2010, 23:39 GMT

    Yet another article on this website bashing the Aussies. It is staring to get a bit boring Michael Jeh. Why do you not focus on more serious issues such as the poor standard of umpiring from muppets such as Bowden and Koetzen? This issue has been blown up out of all proportion and has already been addressed. Move on to snother Aussie to bash why don't you?

  • Jack on March 4, 2010, 23:37 GMT

    @Cyberalienfreak, true, if you plead guilty you cop a lesser punishment.. but for how many times?.. surely, in no justice system, i could commit an offence, plead guilty, cop a fine instead of ban/prison... and come three months and commit the same offence, plead guilty and get away with slap on the wrist and 'instruction to behave myself next time'... !!!! johnson had his chance and was let off for Ben incident, but surely if he does not appriciate the forgiveness from match refree, and keeps behaving the way he is, do you still think he should be let off just because he 'pleaded guilty' ??!!!

  • leslie on March 4, 2010, 23:33 GMT

    Oh, thats why I'm unhappy with another joker becoming the next president of the ICC. Not saying its any better now but still being perssimitic of the developments. On the other hand people will have to congratulate the Aussies for keeping themselves clean in what ever they do. Only the other team/cricket manages to get the blame. I think everyone shoud learn from that. In this particular instance though I think the kiwis have no balls - neither styris nor the team. Most of the time you seen the kiwis play well against many teams at home, but when Australia plays the NZ team goes on its knees. Oh that was spineless styris, no better than a sheep, I guess, led to slaughter.

  • Giant Squid on March 4, 2010, 23:28 GMT

    So, just a couple of questions. While I can see where you're coming from in regards to physical contact, I'm sick of listening to everyone victimising Australia because of their tactics. As we've heard time and time again, this is how Australia plays their cricket, with a view to dominating their opponents. All these people calling for two-match bans in the comments, is this really as serious an offence as Shahid Afridi's ball-tampering? I think if the Australian and New Zealand teams agree that the game is played that way, then there shouldn't be a problem at all. And also, headbutting someone who has a helmet on? Probably not the most productive way of physically intimidating them.

  • Karthik on March 4, 2010, 23:24 GMT

    It is silly to relate on-field aggression to playing cricket with passion...the next step...beat each other with stumps and say it is a reflection of how passionate they are about playing for their country...people who cannot control their emotions are lower in the human chain...closer to animals...

  • Jonesy on March 4, 2010, 23:22 GMT

    Well, with Shahid Afridi only getting 2 games for biting the ball, Harbajan Singh getting off with pretty much no punishment for racially abusing Andrew Symonds it seems that those from the subcontinental area can get away with much more grossly flagrant abuses than anyone else based on the influence of the BCCI and others. For a couple of players to get into a bit of an argument with no real hurtful abuse and a bit of aggression it's good for the game. Do we want to see a match where everyone just plays nice and when one team wins they shake hands, walk off with no celebration and sit in their hotel rooms waiting for the next game. That's boring. That's why the Australian-NZ clashes and the Australia-England clashes are so good, there's actually some feeling in the game and the players are showing some emotion.

  • rewihendrix on March 4, 2010, 23:22 GMT

    THe Gambhir ban was because he deliberately elbowed watson while he was running. That is simply unacceptable and completely incomparable to this situation

    However, i do believe Mitchell Johnson got away with trying to physically intimidate Styris. Luckily, Styris wasn't intimidated and it probably made him play better.

    Brad Haddin is one who consistently gets away with misdemeanors by simply pretending he's the victim (remember the Broom "bowled" dismissal, where he had a cry about Vettori correctly saying it should have gone upstairs?).

    Harbhajan as well. I can't believe he got away with calling Symonds a monkey. He should've got a 6 month ban for that.

  • Marty on March 4, 2010, 23:20 GMT

    It seems to me that the Australians don't cope well with any person or team who dares to stand up to them. In three games we've had Tait giving McCullum the finger, Watson screaming abuse at James Franklin for daring to hit a boundary of him & Johnson head butting Styris, again for attacking his bowling. I think they've been winning so long they've forgotten how to lose graciously. I only hope the kiwi's can close the series out which will be the best response possible.

  • Kumar on March 4, 2010, 23:09 GMT

    Well said Mike, u hit the nail on the head just like your earlier articles. Headbutting is a no-no even in a contact sport like Soccer, if something like elbowing (Gambhir, and that too on watson who was intentionally blocking his run and continuously doing everything to get him out of the game because they couldnt get out) is wrong then headbutting is criminal. So Ranjan Madugalle has totally missed the point over here. If the rules state that there should be no such physical contact his job is to make sure it is enforced. Just like the umps match refrees should be more Objective than Subjective. If every match refree comes with his own set of rules that will not make for a decent refreeing. Poor Mitch probably thinks that every other player is like himself and dont have anything important between their ears!!! Dont reinforce such behavior.

  • Paul on March 4, 2010, 23:07 GMT

    The writer misses one important fact just to try to conjure a bias towards some cricketers. Both Gambhir and Benn pleaded 'not guilty' and when found guilty got a tougher penalty. Johnson and Styris pleaded guilty and got lighter sentences for not contesting the charges. Its as simple as that. Works the same in most legal cases.

  • Matt on March 4, 2010, 23:07 GMT

    I'm not sure about whether there is any bias involved, but it's clear that Johnson should have had at least 1 game suspension. He clearly made deliberate physical contact. It's even worse than the common shoulder on shoulder contact that happens between batsmen and bowler, even though the contact itself was much lighter. Clashing heads like that is completely preventable, whereas clashes while running are inevitable at some level.

    There should be zero tolerance for a completely preventable contact like this, however light. I think Johnson should have been suspended for his own good, he's not like say McGrath who bowled better when fired up, Johnson needs to stay a bit calmer or he bowls too loose. He really needs to calm down a bit.

    The fact that Ponting didn't react more strongly is worrying, the culture of the Aussie team is slipping back towards the bad old days a bit, and that's not a good thing for anyone.

  • DW on March 4, 2010, 23:04 GMT

    Its disgusting that a repeat offender like Johnson gets away with a fine. It stinks of one rule for a good team and another rule for a bad team. He should have been banned by the ICC and if not them, Cricket Australia should. I am sick of this sledging, just play the damn game. I guess i have to forgive Johnson a little, he must be a bit of a dimwit to head butt someone wearing a helmet. Maybe he is a few cans short of a six-pack

  • mike on March 4, 2010, 23:02 GMT

    Could you please refrain entering New Zealand into this arguement. Every cricket lover knows NZ always tries to play within the spirit of the game, Whether it have been Benn or Johnson , Different cultures or not, Kiwis are extremely understanding and friendly. Its what makes New Zealand such a special place to travel, and why foreigners and tourists always have a nice word to say. I feel like you have tried to taint New Zealand as a whole in this article, Save your tainting towards Australia if you must. Not the so Called smaller brother, who are only guilty of not backing down.

  • Sib on March 4, 2010, 22:54 GMT

    And then if Harbhajan calls Symonds a "monkey" they raise a big issue, when "monkey" is not a racial epithet in the subcontinent at all. Hypocritical all the way through.

  • Amit on March 4, 2010, 22:48 GMT

    Aaron - too right mate. Styris handled it well. I also agree that physical intimidation is a tactic for the weak (on the day ofcourse). I've never seen the likes of Tendulkar, Ponting, and Lara use such tactics as players.

  • JamesNZ on March 4, 2010, 22:45 GMT

    I was at the game - it was a gooden. yes rivalry between the aussies and kiwis is always lets say tense. When johnson was feilding down by banks end there was a lot of chanting going on - such as johnsons a w...ker over and over. He did seem to not have a happy face on. But this happens everywhere. Ive been to games at the SCG and GABBA and Eden Park. similiar banter wa conducted there by both sides in the crowd. Brett lee 5 years ago turned and bowed. He knew it is only oz vs kiwi bull going on. Maybe johnson has trouble keeping his passion/temper in check. If I was feilding that night I would have turned and given the finger and then also show taken my frustrations out on the next time I bowled hopefully getting a wicket or two and shutting the crowd up. Oh well as you see I wont be picked to replace Oram

  • Steve on March 4, 2010, 22:43 GMT

    I really don't think it's a big deal. Unfortunately the kiwis won, but the last two games have been fantastic, high intensity games, something we've been robbed of for most of the summer. I love the banter between myself and my kiwi mates while watching the game, and I'm glad they're getting into it on the field. If that was a headbutt then it was the weakest thing I've ever seen haha. They're just getting in each others faces, no more than healthy passion. If we sanitize sports any more they're not going to be much fun to watch at all. To all those who sook about no ban, that's just ridiculous. Do you want to be watching robots out there, too afraid of suspension to show any emotion??

    My favourite memories of playing cricket was the banter out in the middle.

  • Peter G on March 4, 2010, 22:33 GMT

    Michael Jeh, you're more bothered by this than what Styris and Johnson were. That alone should tell you the issue lies with you, not Johnson and/or Styris and certainly not with international cricket in general.

  • howard on March 4, 2010, 22:31 GMT

    I think Johnson was fairly treated here. The injustice was in the ban handed down to Benn that time (I saw that one - didn't see the Gambhir incident). As rugby great Tana Umaga once said, it isn't a game of tiddlywinks.

  • Kiwi on March 4, 2010, 22:21 GMT

    As a kiwi supporter i think that victory is so much sweeter when the losing team resort to these tactics. But as cricket is an international game to match referees need to show conistancy across all countries, therefore considering the previsious bans handed out Johnson was very very lucky not to suffer the same.

    Unfortunately a few of the Aussies sturggle to lose gracefully, and always have. I beleive a great team can celebrate success and be humble in defeat. Aussie cricket teams have never reached this level of greatness, but not many sporting team do.

  • viswana on March 4, 2010, 22:20 GMT

    Ranjan Madugalle apparently considers himself to be in the mould of Chris Broad. So no wonder he does not find atrocious actions by Aussies, English, NZlanders etc to be minor aberrations only. He also needs to protect his job.

  • Michael Jeh on March 4, 2010, 22:15 GMT

    Chris, we'll have to agree to disagree with your comment that Johnson certainly did not headbutt Styris. From what I saw on TV, it looked like 'contact' to me. Regarding the comments about racism, I'm not for one minute suggesting that any of these decisions had a racial bias to them and that's why I think a more consistent, uniform approach to rulings will ensure that such perceptions, mistaken though they may be, cannot arise. Finally, whilst I admire Styris' loyalty towards Johnson by writing it off as "nothing untoward", the hypothetical question I pose is: if it happens between say a West Indian and a NZ/Aussie player, why don't they adopt the same casual attitude? Why didn't they write the Benn and Gambhir incidents off in the same way? Why didn't Symonds just shrug off Harbajhan's alleged insult as "part of the game", especially considering he fired the first shot in that particular exchange? I'm all for leaving it on the field so long as it applies to all countries.

  • larrybiscuit on March 4, 2010, 22:04 GMT

    Outstanding column. A sports writer here in NZ was flayed for suggesting this kind of behaviour was totally unacceptable. As a NZer I am embarassed that this kind of rubbish has gone unpunished in my country. However reading some of the responses coming out of Australia suggest they do not tolerate this kind of behaviour from their own.

  • Itchy on March 4, 2010, 22:03 GMT

    NZ vs Aus contests in any sport will see some form of confrontation so no surprises as to what happened. I agree that Johnson deserved a bigger penalty (2 match ban?) but we can not always compare one incident to another as the circumstances are often different. If we ban everyone who indulges in behaviour that can be interpreted as "against the spirit of cricket" we may not have too many people (or teams) playing!

  • BG on March 4, 2010, 22:01 GMT

    "Would Styris have been that forgiving if his opponent had been Benn or Gambhir?" - Of course he would!! Why would he treat Benn or Gambhir any differently than he treated Johnson? In Styris' long career in international cricket have you one single example of him treating an Indian or West Indian cricketer any differently than he would an Australian or any other nationality?

    "...Meanwhile, some other players who fight for justice cop two-match bans. That's justice?" - Yes it is!! If you plead not guilty and are subsequently found to be guilty then you receive a harsher punishment than if you had pleaded guilty to start with. That's how nearly every system of justice in the World works! Pleading not guilty when you are guilty is NOT fighting for justice.

    "If not, there will be accusations of bias, of East v West of Rich v Poor. And cricket does not need that sort of divisiveness." - And yet that is exactly what this article is doing, creating divisiveness.

    Utter trash.

  • Vijaya on March 4, 2010, 21:58 GMT

    I would blame the match referee, Madugalle for these biased descesions. Even my friends agree with me that he is biased towrds aussies and favoured them several times escaping from either no or nminimum punishments. I don't know what connections he had with aussies. Is he married an Aussie woman?

  • waterbuffalo on March 4, 2010, 21:57 GMT

    If a pakistani head butted an opponent he would get a 3 match ban at least.Of course there are double standards, there have been since the 70's, one only has to read what Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards had to say to realize how blatant and obvious it was.

  • Glenn Shaw on March 4, 2010, 21:54 GMT

    I am not sure I have ever read a more nonsense piece of writing from a so-called professional cricekt writer. Had either Benn or Gambhir pleaded guilty then they would have had lighter sentences. Had Johnson pleaded not guilty he would have almost certainly faced a ban. You say they pleaded not guilty to "fight for justice" and ignore the fact that justice in their cases was always going to be a guilty verdict. Neither could be found any other way and should have conceded that instead of moaning and trying their old trick of playing the victim of the brutal and mean-spirited Aussies. Get over it! Johnson did not initiate any physical contact in the Benn incident so "repeat offender" is a strong tag. The guilty prea and admission of error helped Johnson and cost Gambhir and Benn, simple as that. Maybe players could take the Aussie lead and admit when they cross a line instead of making up excuses like their journalists do for them.

  • Jack on March 4, 2010, 21:48 GMT

    Brilliant article, and very, very true. It does seem like blatant double standards, and everyone can see exactly what is going on. You head butt a person and still get away with it!!!I, and a few million others, can well imagine what would happen if the player involved was Pakistani, Indian, Sri Lankan or West Indian(incidentally, I am an English supporter), but I don't like injustice and while I do admit, Australia however good they are , and they are certainly brilliant on the field, they have perfected the Art of Sledging to a 'T', and as everyone over the world has noticed, they have very rarely been given harsh sentences like other teams in similar situations. Coincidence, bias, or maybe umpires are just in awe of them?

  • Ishan Ghose on March 4, 2010, 21:48 GMT

    'Where is the justice?' I bet, Andrew Symonds and many other Australians would have felt the same, when Harbhajan Singh was allowed to go scot free thanks to BCCI's vulgarly shameless arm twisting. Did the author, feel vindicated at that instance? The author has lived in Australia long enough to appreciate the special competitive hostility that Australians and New Zealanders share, yet he chooses to paint it with perceived racial innuendos rather than seeing it for exactly what it is. True, the Johnson - Benn - Haddin incident wasn't pretty, but to say that Johnson was as much at fault as Benn, would be rather unfair. If he had the opportunity to hear what Benn had to say to both Haddin and Johnson, he would know that it wasn't exactly a symphony. Another thing that doesn't get a mention here is how Shahid Afridi gets just 2 T20 matches off for what has been one of the most obvious and blatant acts of cheating on a cricket field. Don't hear anyone talking about that...

    Best Regards IG

  • Rahul on March 4, 2010, 21:47 GMT

    I have a slightly different openion on the matter, no doubt I agree strongly with author but a very interesting thing is you notice is in Benn and Gambhirs case match refree was broad and in johnsons both the offenses it was ranan madugalle. If you look at it from neutral point of view you would say the ICC code of conduct book is same but the 2 match refrees interpreted it in different maner. It would have been very interesting to see broads reaction on johnsons head butt if he were match refree or madugalles verdict on gambhir, benn case. Jeah made a valid point and it is well taken but there are still some ifs and buts..

  • Chris on March 4, 2010, 21:45 GMT

    I just had a quick look at the guidelines for posting a comment here. It clearly states "The following are not allowed under any circumstances - comments about bias by officials against specific teams or players". Do these rules apply to the author? And by the way, I love the rivalry between Australia and New Zealand - I am Australian and have many New Zealand friends and it gives us plenty to talk about in a friendly competitive way. Can't wait for game 2.

  • Sudhakar on March 4, 2010, 21:41 GMT

    It have given the perfect insight to what happening now a days in cricket. Everyone thinking that India(BCCI) rules/comands ICC...?is it true, then how come Gambhir get ban for a match when he shoulder to Watson(who talktive and behaves very badly as a cricketer), look at the match how he behaves when he dismissed Gayle the other day. why this discrimination...? As we all know how lot of these AU players behave, the other day Tait showed his middle finger to McCullum. Lot of kids watching these sort of things and they watch games to improve or else learn how to play but not how to behave. ICC should take some action against these sort of things.

  • Jimmy on March 4, 2010, 21:40 GMT

    New Zealanders and Australians will sit in a pub and abuse each other while a game of sport is on. It's usually a rugby game, but cricket like the Chappell Hadlee series fits the mould as well. For some reason it's embedded in our culture - just look at what we do when we've had a few beers and the stadium is full! The Aussies are our bigger brothers whole always presume they are going to beat us... so we love sticking it to them! At the end of the day though, no matter how much abuse you give your bigger brother, you never hate him - fights will never go too far. And you enjoy a beer with him when it's all over.

    As a kiwi who plays a lot of sport, that's the best way I can describe it.

  • Niquardo NZ on March 4, 2010, 21:34 GMT

    If neither player has a problem with it and are completely unfazed by the incident who are the authorities to dish out bans?

  • David on March 4, 2010, 21:32 GMT

    The ICC need to set out proper guidelines that take into consideration a players previous fines or suspensions when handling a incident like this. Johnson, being his second offence & that he initiated contacted should have been suspended for at least one game.

    Secondly, the Allan Border medal should be in line with the Brownlow Medal (best & fairest) & where a player is fined or suspended they should be excluded as a contender.

    Watson is a fine player but his behaviour on field is in appropriate and not deserving of the award, and all players should realize a lot more is at stake when they misbehave.

    Which country the player represents is irrelevant, it is their actions or words used at the time of the offence.

    The ICC also need to take responsibility of the review system and provide the necessary equipment for all games or scrap the concept. Currently there are double standards which is not fair.

    Lastly, maybe a yellow & red card system (sin bin) could be used by the umpires!

  • Anon Payn on March 4, 2010, 21:30 GMT

    @ Brett Thompson What exactly did Harbhajan say? He called Symonds his "mom's p*ssy". How is that worse than all the stuff that cricketers spew at each other all the time? It's definitely not worse than calling someone a "b***ard" or the like. Just because it was in hindi it becomes objectionable now?

  • Jay Mitter on March 4, 2010, 21:28 GMT

    It is already pretty clear that subcontinent players are treated differently when it comes to committing the same offense. It is because of CA and Australian players are encouraged aggressive behavior on and off the field and they feel that players from other countries can't stand up to them. It is about time subcontinent players have some guts and stand up for themselves including their cricket board to show eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth and aggression with aggression, like Srishant and Bhaji does.

  • Deep on March 4, 2010, 21:26 GMT

    Completely agree with the issue being raised here - "double standards" or should we say "dubious standards". Penalties should be based on the severity of the offence for ALL players, and not based on what team they play for. Johnson is a repeat offender and WILL do this again, he should be given a match ban for his own GOOD so he can play within the SPIRIT of the game next time he gets FRUSTATED at a rival team. Sounds cheesy isn't it..but this is exactly the kind of words ICC plays with and uses its monopolistic jurisdiction to penalise players on its own whim. Wonder why the Match Refrees can't be consistent with penalising for all teams. Shame on them for bringing the game in DISREPUTE.

  • mindispower on March 4, 2010, 21:25 GMT

    Oz and NZ are not India and WI. THere are cultural differences whether we like it or not. I am a saffa fan and feel the generally, subcontinent players do not express themselves in the same fashion as any other region. That is neither here nor there but simply as it is. I am tired of all this crying fowl/bias. It was dealt with and it is over. Get over it already.

  • pawan malik on March 4, 2010, 21:08 GMT

    well written.i have a question for those who have been saying,its harmless banter etc-etc,where were they when the same thing happened in gambhir-watson or benn-johnston saga?weren't gambhir and benn playing cpmpetetive cricket and wanting to win for their respective countries?as far as ranjan madhugale goes,he has a history of inconsistent decisions and then the so called knowledge of cultures this sub continent,how he has that knowledge is any body's guess as on records he was born to sri lankan parents and has lived in sri lanka,another incident of his bias relating to these countries which comes to mind is,when he fined venkatesh prasad ages ago and not the other player from ausie as apparently the use of foul language including f word during this gentleman's sport was common in this part of the world and venkatesh was unnatural in being provoked!! or may be he has taken a liking of being a hammeriod of australia!!

  • Danm on March 4, 2010, 21:06 GMT

    Michael, I think this is an extremely poor article, besides nearly accusing the ICC match referees of racism and favouritism to the "white boys" I think you fail to take into account the fact that Gambir and Benn had already very poor records, Benn pleaded not guilty to the charge and lost whereas the Aussies in the incident pleaded guilty, hence the lighter sanction. Johnson probably stepped over the line but Mccullum definatley did not seem upset by it. Bringing up Hogg's use of 'bastard' seems to conveniently forget Harbajan Singh, the worst behaved player in the history of the game (the records prove this) calling Symonds a 'monkey' which is also extremely culturally offensive. I'm sick of this Aussie bashing which is an easy article for "us-them" fans, I agree that Australia still need to be scrutinised & definately have been able to get away with alot being the best team in the world for so long. But, have some even-handedness in this, New Zealand are also the best behaved si

  • mike on March 4, 2010, 20:58 GMT

    Could you please refrain entering New Zealand into this arguement. Every cricket lover knows NZ always tries to play within the spirit of the game, Whether it have been Benn or Johnson , Different cultures or not, Kiwis are extremely understanding and friendly. Its what makes New Zealand such a special place to travel, and why foreigners and tourists always have a nice word to say. I feel like you have tried to taint New Zealand as a whole in this article, Save your tainting towards Australia if you must. Not the so Called smaller brother, who are only guilty of not backing down.

  • Aaron on March 4, 2010, 20:29 GMT

    Here's the thing about this, Styris got a fine too, but he literally had no choice in his part in the scrap. Johnson had found that on the day he wasn't a good enough bowler to get on top of Styris so he had to resort to other tactics. Those tactics were of course to use physical intimidation to get on top. If Styris had played by the rules and let Johnson get away with it he would have been in danger of losing the psychological edge that is so crucial in the those situations. He could just not afford to feel intimidated otherwise he would have gone from being the guy who could handle anything to being someone plagued with doubts (as NZ batsmen often are). So I say well done Scott Styris and not only will I encourage him to do it again but I'll offer to form a fan's fund to help him pay any future fines. Styris's attitude is exactly what the NZ cricket team needs more of.

    And don't forget, physical intimidation is the tactic you use when it's become obvious you can't win with skill.

  • R33GZ on March 4, 2010, 20:27 GMT

    Good article... Id hate to see cries of racism come into cricket though... wasnt the match referee from the Sub Continent? Im a kiwi and have become used to this sort of underhanded behavior from Australia, it makes the victory that much more sweet, but I agree, that if this is a repeat offense, then the message isnt getting through and match suspensions should now be used. When 5 year olds do this, we call it 'Behavioral Issues' and they are put on the 'naughty stool'

  • Ed Thomas on March 4, 2010, 20:19 GMT

    Thank you for spelling this out, and for conveying the thoughts of many cricket fans throughout the world. I am totally in favour of a ban for this type of behavior (nothing hurts a player like being sat on the bench !) because we all know that fines are a drop in the ocean to these guys. Mitchell Johnson is a REPEAT offender and until he receives a ban, he quite rightly believes he can get away with his abusive behaviour, which he obviously can. What a shame, plesae lets bring the rules into line so they are not biased towards or against ANY player, they just need to be ahrd but fair. Thanks for the article.

  • Gary on March 4, 2010, 20:17 GMT

    Any physical contact (even minor) should not be tolerated. Match bans not slap on the wrist fines are more suited. We should be setting an example at the very highest level.

  • Frank Rizzo on March 4, 2010, 20:07 GMT

    I too see the arguement about double standards but I also don't think the incident needs to be blown out of proportion. Johnson lost his cool but Styris was a willing party in the incident and clearly was goading him. I wouldn't want to see Johnson banned even if it might help NZ's cause as it just wouldn't seem like a fair outcome to me based on what I saw.

  • Chris on March 4, 2010, 20:03 GMT

    I agree with the call for greater consistency from match referees. I believe this particular case was dealt with very well by the officials from NZ, South Africa, and Asia. Johnson got up into Styris' face/helmet and certainly didn't headbutt him, and so was reprimanded appropriately (with a strike on his record).

  • Andrew - Sydney, Australia on March 4, 2010, 19:59 GMT

    Michael - Surely you of all people would realise that the reason this game was buried on page 4 of the sports was that football season has kicked off, and people are more interested in that then ANOTHER one day game. As fas as the Johnson incident goes, I think for fairness and the sake of perceptions, he should have got a 1 match ban as he has form over the summer. However, I am glad that at least all the bleeding hearts from the sub-continent cannot blame a 'white' ICC referee for the light punishment. If a 'white' official had given out this punishment, we would also have chants of racism.... again...

  • workshy on March 4, 2010, 19:19 GMT

    Interesting that you have written 3 pieces on unseemly clashes on the cricket field and the common factor is that one side is always the Australians. Fiercely competitive or arrogant bullies? It's a very fine line and one that i would suggest they drag their shackles across from time to time, usually when someone has the temerity to stand up to their bully boy ways

  • Gaurav on March 4, 2010, 19:04 GMT

    Very true. Its high time the Asian / WI block of the ICC (which is getting more influential) to drive this point home and ask for clearer and uniform rules. May be review the performance of match referees too. I strongly feel the decision for on-field incidents should be based on inputs from on-field umpires only and not the players. Cultural background or vocabulary of a player should not be used to judge his deeds.

  • Mark on March 4, 2010, 19:04 GMT

    A good point well made. As a NZer I agree with Paul that there is always niggle and goings-on between NZ and Aus in any sporting (and sometimes non-sporting!) contest.

    However, there is absoultely no need for physical contact in cricket with the only exception I can think of being a fielder attempting a run-out and clashing with a batsman.

    I don't personally think there is anything racial about previous decisions to ban players for a match or 2. I think some supporters need to be a bit more thick-skinned if/when their player is banned. However, there does need to be consistency, particularly for someone like Johnson who clearly has little self control shown by recent and past indiscretions.

  • Cyberalienfreak on March 4, 2010, 17:57 GMT

    You know what ? The Justice system anywhere allows for slight leniency if a person pleads guilty. The fact is that it didn't go to a higher level official, and hence they weren't penalized further. Had Benn or Gambhir done the same, they might not have been given the bans. And I'm saying this as an Indian. I wish people would stop crying over every little thing that happens and act as though it is always Australia's fault. Fact is, unlike all the others they admit when they're wrong and readily accept it, and I can see the New Zealanders have done the same too. If you ask me, I say lets have more of this, and I hope everyone else grows a pair, and stops whining.

  • Gopal on March 4, 2010, 17:48 GMT

    Nice article!

  • Gayathri on March 4, 2010, 17:09 GMT

    I wouldn't blame the Australian players involved because it is the job of the ICC to set the correct precedent and obviously they fail to do so again. Given this kind of discrimination that we see on a regular basis, is it so much of a surprise when BCCI has to step in once in a while to protect Team India from the ICC bias? The WI, SL, Pak and other non white countries probably don't have enough power yet to protect their players and I bet my last dollar that if they did, they too would take "high handed" approach towards the biased ICC. If ICC wants to be respected, they should earn it first.

  • Sam on March 4, 2010, 16:39 GMT

    I wonder what ICC do in their review of referees, if they ever do so.

  • Subhajit Dasgupta on March 4, 2010, 16:24 GMT

    Excellent...

  • Roshan on March 4, 2010, 16:09 GMT

    If there are no guidelines, it is going to remain subjective. If physical contact of any sort is not allowed, it shouldn't matter which countries are playing or who is the match referee. If not just allow it. In NBA if any player on the bench steps on court during a confrontation, it is automatic suspension, no questions asked. Sometimes it looks harsh (half a players foot may have crossed the line), but at least everyone knows there is consistent application of the rule.

  • veda on March 4, 2010, 16:08 GMT

    The world is not utopia.

  • Rev on March 4, 2010, 16:01 GMT

    Michael, this is a pretty asinine piece. You complain about how the ICC has given different rulings on several match incidents, according to your personal interpretation of previous events. Gambhir struck Watson in the chest with his elbow while running. Benn was an absolute idiot that day - the Aussies pointing bats and whatnot wasn't pretty, but Benn kept coming back for more when it would have been easy enough to get on with the game. With Johnson and Styris, how you can label that a headbutt is beyond me. They barely touched their heads together, and you couldn't argue (unlike Gambhir and Benn's cases) that the contact was 100% intentional - they were both walking towards each other (abusing away) and ran into each other.

  • Shakil on March 4, 2010, 15:16 GMT

    Michael, glad you brought this issue up but I believe no matter how much we talk or raise this point, I don't think any official from ICC is going to give any weight to our opinions. That's ridiculous. I also thought that Johnson should have been banned for 1-2 ODIs so that he doesn't repeat that. He got away in the case of Benn and here. Standards have got to improve otherwise we the cricket fans would always remain disappointed. We love competitive cricket being played but when anyone crosses the line and then doesn't get the penalty the same way then it's not fair. Look at the case of Bangladesh vs English, there umpiring standards were poor and cost Bangladesh the match, Bangladesh being already so low on the winning side, tried so hard to win one game and what did they got? Three decisions went against them. Who was responsible for it? Did the match referee or ICC took any notice of it? Time to make the best use of 3rd umpires, they'll have to over-turn the wrong decisions.

  • Anon on March 4, 2010, 15:12 GMT

    Thanks for expressing in a coherent manner what so many of us have thought out loud among ourselves!

  • Brett Thompson on March 4, 2010, 15:08 GMT

    I feel Johnson has got away pretty lightly on this one, needed a two match ban at least, but when it comes to double standards and leniency for the crime, you can't go past Harbhajan Singh getting off scot free for his comments towards Andrew Symonds.

  • Attila on March 4, 2010, 14:56 GMT

    I love this stuff, I don't care much about the laws of cricket and the spirit of the game. The spirit of the game is a heated desire to win. Some confrontation is good.

  • Paul on March 4, 2010, 14:55 GMT

    While I understand the point being made in this piece about applying rules evenly and equitably, in practice I think it a very fine line, one which could easily exacerbate what was initially a very minor incident. As a New Zealander, I well understand the relationship and rivalry between my country and Australia. Any chance we get to lay into the Aussies about a fine victory or perceived slight is taken gleefully, and returned in kind. It would be easy to slight either country, or make the team and people feel cheated or hard done by if what is ordinarily a very commonplace occurrence on any playing field in any sport involving New Zealand and Australia is treated with inordinate harshness.

    Again, I see the point being made. One would like to think that any breaking of rules would be dealt with in a fashion that befits our fine sport, but I think administrators need to be, and for the most part are, aware of the fine line they tread.

  • Sandy_bangalore on March 4, 2010, 14:55 GMT

    Its absolutely ridiculous to see the likes of Johnson,Haddin and Harbhajan repeatedly cross the line when it comes to onfield behaviour. BCCI and CA must be the two most lenient sport bodies that makes all the right noisees about 'cleaning up our act' and 'hard but fair' but does nothing when these guys are tampering with the spirit of the game. harbhajan should have been banned for a year after his slapgate and all the BCCi did was withdraw him from the inconsequential IPL1. As for Johnson, please spare us the bit about him being a 'cheerful bloke off the b ield but hard on it'. Its the second time he's been involved in physical alercation, and if it had beena sane sports body in place of CA, he should have had a year long ban from cricket. These guys should learn from the likes of dravid,lee,flintoff and murali, who have achieved far more than the three guys but played cricket the way it ought to be played

  • Srinivas on March 4, 2010, 14:37 GMT

    Very well writtent , this obvious bias is extremely obnoxious

  • yogesh on March 4, 2010, 14:35 GMT

    Physical contact unlike 'verbal abuse' is not a grey area. It is clear that a player indulged in physical contact or not. The policy should be uniform. If Benn and Gambhir can be banned, so should be Johnson. And if you watch Benn-Haddin video, Johnson was also culpable. Firstly, Broad blundered grossly when he let Johnson free then and banned Benn. Now, this is ridiculous. When is Mitchell going to be held ? If he slaps or kicks someone on the face ? Should such misdeeds be nipped in the bud ? Johnson seems to have followed his biggest supporter (Dennis Lillee) too much.

  • Yasir on March 4, 2010, 14:17 GMT

    How true you are, amazed by your deep insight into the problem. If the controlling authority gets blamed for bias then there would not be anywhere to go as justice is only way to keep actions in check. Love your piece of writing. Can you do a favor and email this article to match referees of these incidents. We were arguing UDRS, now is the time to implement it for Referees tooo.

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  • Yasir on March 4, 2010, 14:17 GMT

    How true you are, amazed by your deep insight into the problem. If the controlling authority gets blamed for bias then there would not be anywhere to go as justice is only way to keep actions in check. Love your piece of writing. Can you do a favor and email this article to match referees of these incidents. We were arguing UDRS, now is the time to implement it for Referees tooo.

  • yogesh on March 4, 2010, 14:35 GMT

    Physical contact unlike 'verbal abuse' is not a grey area. It is clear that a player indulged in physical contact or not. The policy should be uniform. If Benn and Gambhir can be banned, so should be Johnson. And if you watch Benn-Haddin video, Johnson was also culpable. Firstly, Broad blundered grossly when he let Johnson free then and banned Benn. Now, this is ridiculous. When is Mitchell going to be held ? If he slaps or kicks someone on the face ? Should such misdeeds be nipped in the bud ? Johnson seems to have followed his biggest supporter (Dennis Lillee) too much.

  • Srinivas on March 4, 2010, 14:37 GMT

    Very well writtent , this obvious bias is extremely obnoxious

  • Sandy_bangalore on March 4, 2010, 14:55 GMT

    Its absolutely ridiculous to see the likes of Johnson,Haddin and Harbhajan repeatedly cross the line when it comes to onfield behaviour. BCCI and CA must be the two most lenient sport bodies that makes all the right noisees about 'cleaning up our act' and 'hard but fair' but does nothing when these guys are tampering with the spirit of the game. harbhajan should have been banned for a year after his slapgate and all the BCCi did was withdraw him from the inconsequential IPL1. As for Johnson, please spare us the bit about him being a 'cheerful bloke off the b ield but hard on it'. Its the second time he's been involved in physical alercation, and if it had beena sane sports body in place of CA, he should have had a year long ban from cricket. These guys should learn from the likes of dravid,lee,flintoff and murali, who have achieved far more than the three guys but played cricket the way it ought to be played

  • Paul on March 4, 2010, 14:55 GMT

    While I understand the point being made in this piece about applying rules evenly and equitably, in practice I think it a very fine line, one which could easily exacerbate what was initially a very minor incident. As a New Zealander, I well understand the relationship and rivalry between my country and Australia. Any chance we get to lay into the Aussies about a fine victory or perceived slight is taken gleefully, and returned in kind. It would be easy to slight either country, or make the team and people feel cheated or hard done by if what is ordinarily a very commonplace occurrence on any playing field in any sport involving New Zealand and Australia is treated with inordinate harshness.

    Again, I see the point being made. One would like to think that any breaking of rules would be dealt with in a fashion that befits our fine sport, but I think administrators need to be, and for the most part are, aware of the fine line they tread.

  • Attila on March 4, 2010, 14:56 GMT

    I love this stuff, I don't care much about the laws of cricket and the spirit of the game. The spirit of the game is a heated desire to win. Some confrontation is good.

  • Brett Thompson on March 4, 2010, 15:08 GMT

    I feel Johnson has got away pretty lightly on this one, needed a two match ban at least, but when it comes to double standards and leniency for the crime, you can't go past Harbhajan Singh getting off scot free for his comments towards Andrew Symonds.

  • Anon on March 4, 2010, 15:12 GMT

    Thanks for expressing in a coherent manner what so many of us have thought out loud among ourselves!

  • Shakil on March 4, 2010, 15:16 GMT

    Michael, glad you brought this issue up but I believe no matter how much we talk or raise this point, I don't think any official from ICC is going to give any weight to our opinions. That's ridiculous. I also thought that Johnson should have been banned for 1-2 ODIs so that he doesn't repeat that. He got away in the case of Benn and here. Standards have got to improve otherwise we the cricket fans would always remain disappointed. We love competitive cricket being played but when anyone crosses the line and then doesn't get the penalty the same way then it's not fair. Look at the case of Bangladesh vs English, there umpiring standards were poor and cost Bangladesh the match, Bangladesh being already so low on the winning side, tried so hard to win one game and what did they got? Three decisions went against them. Who was responsible for it? Did the match referee or ICC took any notice of it? Time to make the best use of 3rd umpires, they'll have to over-turn the wrong decisions.

  • Rev on March 4, 2010, 16:01 GMT

    Michael, this is a pretty asinine piece. You complain about how the ICC has given different rulings on several match incidents, according to your personal interpretation of previous events. Gambhir struck Watson in the chest with his elbow while running. Benn was an absolute idiot that day - the Aussies pointing bats and whatnot wasn't pretty, but Benn kept coming back for more when it would have been easy enough to get on with the game. With Johnson and Styris, how you can label that a headbutt is beyond me. They barely touched their heads together, and you couldn't argue (unlike Gambhir and Benn's cases) that the contact was 100% intentional - they were both walking towards each other (abusing away) and ran into each other.