January 9, 2008

Some balance, please

True, India were sinned against in the Sydney Test, but they're no innocents, and the reaction of the media back home has been consummately over the top
261



Men overboard: protesters in Patna enlist the help of donkeys to express their outrage at the poor umpiring in Sydney © AFP

If India's media are to be believed, the Indian players are angels, and anyone who thinks otherwise is an unpatriotic Gandhi-hater and should be condemned to watching Navjot Sidhu expressing his views on a dozen television channels.

By hauling up a player for a racial slur (just as all who drink are not alcoholics, all who use racially charged words are not racists), the match referee has apparently called into question our manhood, nationhood, honour, Gandhian way of life, support for Nelson Mandela in the days of apartheid, and the sacrifices made by our martyrs.

Yes, we lost a Test. Yes, the umpiring was horrendous. Yes, the charges against Harbhajan Singh might not hold up in a court of law. But do we have to go overboard like this? One television channel dragged out Harbhajan's mother, that expert on racial slurs and leg-before appeals, to share her thoughts with us.

How do we drop so quickly into us-and-them mode? The media paranoia feeds itself. If one channel demands an apology from Australia, another displays greater patriotism by asking for the Test result to be nullified. Pundits push themselves to the head of a gathering trend. Or, if they are Sidhu, suggest that Indian bowlers should kick the umpires as they approach the wicket to bowl. If this is what a Test player feels, what of the regular effigy-burners and professional naysayers?

That mythical creature, the Average Man, wants the team to return home, we are told. Politicians speak for the Man in the Street (who is there because politicians, in their rush to defend the millionaires abroad, have omitted to build a house for him).

"This is not about cricket," Sidhu thunders, "This is about national honour." The President-elect of the ICC, Sharad Pawar, is upset. This is not something trivial like farmers committing suicide, which he can ignore in his other avatar as the Minister of Agriculture. This is the real thing. The BCCI runs the ICC and the media run the BCCI.

Brinkmanship is our national sport. The way India treats the ICC is no different from the manner in which the "veto powers", England and Australia, did in their heyday. When the cycle turns and the power base shifts, we will have at least nine countries waiting to get at us for all that we are doing to them now.

Pawar has the bogey of Jagmohan Dalmiya on his shoulder. Didn't that worthy threaten to split the cricket world more than once? Didn't he save India's honour, nationhood, manhood and all other hoods by annulling the result of a match in South Africa a few years ago? How can Pawar go one better? Can he annul Australia's nationhood?

The board could not have asked for a better chance to show its patriotism. The players could not have asked for a bigger distraction from their own pathetic display in the second innings at Sydney. Two batsmen got poor decisions. What about the others? Is batting through two sessions to save a Test beyond the ability of the greatest batting line-up in the world? As for the board, the criticism about pushing the players into Tests in Australia without adequate time to acclimatise themselves is now residing under a carpet somewhere.

It is all so convenient.

But what of the incidents? We have been mixing apples and oranges. The boorish behaviour of Ricky Ponting and his men is independent of the umpiring boo-boos, which have nothing to do with what Harbhajan Singh said to Andrew Symonds. By bundling it all together, and then garnishing the mix with almost plausible quotes and Peter Roebuck's unusually over-the-top reaction, the Indian media have taken breast-beating to new levels.

A clever lawyer can pick on anything Symonds said and give it a racial twist. Even honourable cusswords like "bastard" and "son of a bitch" can be seen as insulting the parental uncertainty or animal origins of all non-whites. Logicians call this reductio ad absurdum - stretching a proposition to its logical absurdity. But logic has been a casualty in this fracas.

Let's get a sense of balance. No Indian writing or broadcasting from Sydney mentioned that replays showed Sachin Tendulkar was out leg-before when he was in the twenties. He added roughly the same number of runs that Symonds did after being reprieved when he was first out.

 
 
Brinkmanship is our national sport. The way India treats the ICC is no different from the manner in which the "veto powers", England and Australia, did in their heyday. When the cycle turns and the power base shifts, we will have at least nine countries waiting to get at us for all that we are doing to them now
 

Ponting's integrity may be in question after he claimed a catch off Mahendra Singh Dhoni though the ball touched the ground. Just as you can't be a little pregnant, you can't be a little upright. Integrity is indivisible. But if the two captains had an agreement regarding catches close to the wicket, then Mark Benson was right in turning to Ponting when Sourav Ganguly was caught. After all, Steve Bucknor was further away from the action.

Indians are not innocents. The average number of Tests played by the Sydney XI is 65. That's enough time to learn all the tricks. Ishant Sharma, in his third Test, showed you don't need to have played 65. His ridiculous time-wasting tactic of walking out with two right gloves would have embarrassed a schoolboy.

For a team that is trailing 0-2 in a Test series, India are on top Down Under. This is remarkable. It is the result of a combination of the BCCI's financial arrogance and media-inspired jingoism. This is dangerous, however exciting and ballsy it might be for an Indian. For it is this combination that makes huge headlines of incidents that might otherwise be handled with delicacy and tact. Already the ICC has replaced Bucknor for the Perth Test (question: if India had long-standing disputes with him, why didn't the board object at the start of the tour?). This may be good PR, but it is a bad precedent to set.

Likewise with the Harbhajan case. The ICC can neither revoke the ban nor endorse it without getting into a bigger mess. The Indian media are probably getting ready to speak to Malcolm Speed's relatives even as you read this.

Suresh Menon is a writer based in Bangalore

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • lavasama on January 11, 2008, 10:37 GMT

    Just for writing against the grain of common thinking, this article has been written. Firstly, Indians never raised an issue regarding australia's first innings reprieves given by Mark Benson and Steve Bucknor. The whole issue got out of the box when they saw the reprieves in the second innings - continuing the same pattern as the first. When India batted and if the test would have come to a draw, we would still be talking about bad umpiring, but may not be with the same charged emotion. The two umpires and the Match Refree made things worse by banning Harbhajan. The match refree's statement that "only side was telling the truth" added fuel to fire. "How did he know?", We are curious to know and, what special talent Mr. Mike Procter has got, to distinguish between a person telling truth or otherwise. May be we can patent that and dump all lie detectors to the garbage bins. The statements made by Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey in various interviews were ridiculous.

  • pk1981 on January 11, 2008, 9:20 GMT

    The problem Mr.Menon is that we have to create that kind of noise and chaos to make our voice heard. Its a pity that a man with high integrity as Sachin Tendulkar, was not trusted over a bunch of cheating and lying brats and here we are discusiing that we should have not made so much noise. If you think the Indian media is going over the top, seems you are out of touch with the Australian media who have conviniently assumed Bhajji to be a racist and are writing articles of being proud of australian behaviour in at SCG.

    As for BCCI's financial clout, I believe if we have it we use it, I would say it is the USA of the cricketing world.

  • SameerGupta on January 11, 2008, 7:36 GMT

    Well post Suresh!

    The issue here is how many test matches in the past have had so many mistakes? Is India going overboard in reacting to 11+ mistakes in a span of 5 days 90% of which seem to favor one team.

    No doubts Indian team didn't play well and there are issues to be discussed on their performances - however we seem to be missing the line here - mistakes against India - aussie spirit in the game - bhajji ban without proof!

    I would back not only BCCI, but even the smallest of cricketing boards like Kenya/Zimbabwe to protest like this if they were in this situation.

  • Springsam on January 11, 2008, 6:15 GMT

    Suresh Menon wants to become an angel in the eyes of the public by discovering that Indians are not angels. It is true that commentators like Sidhu went decibels over the issue but to under play the tardy happenings in the the Sydney test is gross travesty of truth and justice. There have been poor umpiring decisions against India in the past and no such fuss made. Blatant mistakes and so many, by umpires in the Sydney test against India warrants some investigations. Poor umpiring decisions compounded by the unsporting and arrogant attitude of the Australians headed by Ponting precipitated the kind of reaction that followed.Ponting attempts to tell the public that what all non stop lip movements that he and his colleagues made were all very cordial encouraging gestures meted out to the batsmen. The body language and the utter contempt displayed while claiming a grassed catch, tells all the truth.The virus of arrogance could be seen spread even to Clarke the young Vice Captain

  • popenoe on January 11, 2008, 5:43 GMT

    Suresh makes many points that I wholeheartedly agree with. Why has cricket become so ugly? It is a lovely sport for both the players and the audience. At least it used to be. Racial slurs, politics of power, and the desire to be the best at all costs have hurt the game so much that those who love it dearly are getting turned off. Will sane minds prevail? I hope so.

  • DoubleARon on January 11, 2008, 3:24 GMT

    And as far as Australia complaining if bad umpire decisions cost them a match, I seem to recall it costing Australia the Ashes in 2005 (Kaspovich "dismissal"?). What I don't remember is the Australia players acting like a rabble of unprofessional cry babies and threatening to take there bat and ball and go home. I also don't seem to recall anyone burning anything in the streets, which strikes me as a very mature way to handle things.

    And as for Australia making a complaint with regards to Harbajan Singh's comments. Racial slurs are not sledging. They are racial slurs. They are specifically banned in the ICC code of conduct. If it is proven that Singh is guilty, he should accept his ban, just as Darren Lehman accepted a similar ban when playing against Sri Lanka. Again, in that situation, it was Lehman's word against Sri Lanka's. Although I don't defend what Lehman said, at least he had the class to admit it and accept the punishment.

  • Shinypants on January 11, 2008, 3:22 GMT

    The refusal of the Chairman of the BCCI to adhere to his SIGNED agreement to the playing conditions, and his holding the ICC and CA to ransom with his insistence finding Harbahjan innocent says it all. The man is a politician and will sacrifice his morals to pander to his consituency. He is driven by the ballot box. India is 0-2 down because they are lazy and sloppy. They field, catch and run between the wickets like a 2nd grade city team. Instead of worshipping them as gods the Indian fans would do better to demand their efforts match their ability. Watching Sachin Tendulkar gasping for breath after running a 3 was laughable. Yuvraj Singh can't catch, can't field and he could have a bat in both hands and he still couldn't hit the ball. So wrapped up in their own importance are the Indian cricketers that they won't even allow coaches to take them to a suitable level of fitness and skill. After 50 years of watching and playing I've never seen such petulance. From an entire country!

  • DoubleARon on January 11, 2008, 3:17 GMT

    As stated in the Laws of Cricket upon which the game is based (Law 32 pertaining to being 'Caught')

    1. Out Caught The striker is out Caught if ... held by a fielder as a fair catch before it touches the ground.

    3. A fair catch The act of making the catch shall start from the time when a fielder first handles the ball and shall end when a fielder obtains complete control both over the ball and over his own movement.

    Note the rules state that a player must make a fair catch BEFORE the ball touches the ground. The rules do not say the ball cannot touch the ground only that the fieldsman must have control over it first. From the moment that Ponting grips the ball off Doni he has complete control over it. It does not move in his hand, therefore Ponting has every right to claim the catch. Doni was given not out because the umpire did not see the ball nick his glove (which it did). Reasonable decision by the umpire given the circumstances but Ponting has nothing to apologize for.

  • sriniv on January 11, 2008, 2:59 GMT

    I disagree with this article completely. This is typical of some Indians, showing up like a "more neutral guy" blaming our own country guys, media etc., Whatever media has shown, whatever we have done so far all seems right to me. Imagine, some one inviting you to their country, only to cast aspersions, no respect for even neutrality, plus act like saints do everything and turn around and put the blame on you. The point is not whether Indians lost the test or not, IT is about deliberate deriliction of ethics by Australia and umpires and on top of which they ban some one without any proof.

    I suggest you dont write such article being an Indian.

  • maharishi on January 11, 2008, 2:03 GMT

    if you see bucknor's performance in last few years it has been below par, really a bad one.umpire bucknor 61 years old,normally at this age you are not efficient this is retireing age, if you see best umpires in the world simon tauffel, alim dar both are good umpires are young . so the point is age does matter and icc should think about it.

  • lavasama on January 11, 2008, 10:37 GMT

    Just for writing against the grain of common thinking, this article has been written. Firstly, Indians never raised an issue regarding australia's first innings reprieves given by Mark Benson and Steve Bucknor. The whole issue got out of the box when they saw the reprieves in the second innings - continuing the same pattern as the first. When India batted and if the test would have come to a draw, we would still be talking about bad umpiring, but may not be with the same charged emotion. The two umpires and the Match Refree made things worse by banning Harbhajan. The match refree's statement that "only side was telling the truth" added fuel to fire. "How did he know?", We are curious to know and, what special talent Mr. Mike Procter has got, to distinguish between a person telling truth or otherwise. May be we can patent that and dump all lie detectors to the garbage bins. The statements made by Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey in various interviews were ridiculous.

  • pk1981 on January 11, 2008, 9:20 GMT

    The problem Mr.Menon is that we have to create that kind of noise and chaos to make our voice heard. Its a pity that a man with high integrity as Sachin Tendulkar, was not trusted over a bunch of cheating and lying brats and here we are discusiing that we should have not made so much noise. If you think the Indian media is going over the top, seems you are out of touch with the Australian media who have conviniently assumed Bhajji to be a racist and are writing articles of being proud of australian behaviour in at SCG.

    As for BCCI's financial clout, I believe if we have it we use it, I would say it is the USA of the cricketing world.

  • SameerGupta on January 11, 2008, 7:36 GMT

    Well post Suresh!

    The issue here is how many test matches in the past have had so many mistakes? Is India going overboard in reacting to 11+ mistakes in a span of 5 days 90% of which seem to favor one team.

    No doubts Indian team didn't play well and there are issues to be discussed on their performances - however we seem to be missing the line here - mistakes against India - aussie spirit in the game - bhajji ban without proof!

    I would back not only BCCI, but even the smallest of cricketing boards like Kenya/Zimbabwe to protest like this if they were in this situation.

  • Springsam on January 11, 2008, 6:15 GMT

    Suresh Menon wants to become an angel in the eyes of the public by discovering that Indians are not angels. It is true that commentators like Sidhu went decibels over the issue but to under play the tardy happenings in the the Sydney test is gross travesty of truth and justice. There have been poor umpiring decisions against India in the past and no such fuss made. Blatant mistakes and so many, by umpires in the Sydney test against India warrants some investigations. Poor umpiring decisions compounded by the unsporting and arrogant attitude of the Australians headed by Ponting precipitated the kind of reaction that followed.Ponting attempts to tell the public that what all non stop lip movements that he and his colleagues made were all very cordial encouraging gestures meted out to the batsmen. The body language and the utter contempt displayed while claiming a grassed catch, tells all the truth.The virus of arrogance could be seen spread even to Clarke the young Vice Captain

  • popenoe on January 11, 2008, 5:43 GMT

    Suresh makes many points that I wholeheartedly agree with. Why has cricket become so ugly? It is a lovely sport for both the players and the audience. At least it used to be. Racial slurs, politics of power, and the desire to be the best at all costs have hurt the game so much that those who love it dearly are getting turned off. Will sane minds prevail? I hope so.

  • DoubleARon on January 11, 2008, 3:24 GMT

    And as far as Australia complaining if bad umpire decisions cost them a match, I seem to recall it costing Australia the Ashes in 2005 (Kaspovich "dismissal"?). What I don't remember is the Australia players acting like a rabble of unprofessional cry babies and threatening to take there bat and ball and go home. I also don't seem to recall anyone burning anything in the streets, which strikes me as a very mature way to handle things.

    And as for Australia making a complaint with regards to Harbajan Singh's comments. Racial slurs are not sledging. They are racial slurs. They are specifically banned in the ICC code of conduct. If it is proven that Singh is guilty, he should accept his ban, just as Darren Lehman accepted a similar ban when playing against Sri Lanka. Again, in that situation, it was Lehman's word against Sri Lanka's. Although I don't defend what Lehman said, at least he had the class to admit it and accept the punishment.

  • Shinypants on January 11, 2008, 3:22 GMT

    The refusal of the Chairman of the BCCI to adhere to his SIGNED agreement to the playing conditions, and his holding the ICC and CA to ransom with his insistence finding Harbahjan innocent says it all. The man is a politician and will sacrifice his morals to pander to his consituency. He is driven by the ballot box. India is 0-2 down because they are lazy and sloppy. They field, catch and run between the wickets like a 2nd grade city team. Instead of worshipping them as gods the Indian fans would do better to demand their efforts match their ability. Watching Sachin Tendulkar gasping for breath after running a 3 was laughable. Yuvraj Singh can't catch, can't field and he could have a bat in both hands and he still couldn't hit the ball. So wrapped up in their own importance are the Indian cricketers that they won't even allow coaches to take them to a suitable level of fitness and skill. After 50 years of watching and playing I've never seen such petulance. From an entire country!

  • DoubleARon on January 11, 2008, 3:17 GMT

    As stated in the Laws of Cricket upon which the game is based (Law 32 pertaining to being 'Caught')

    1. Out Caught The striker is out Caught if ... held by a fielder as a fair catch before it touches the ground.

    3. A fair catch The act of making the catch shall start from the time when a fielder first handles the ball and shall end when a fielder obtains complete control both over the ball and over his own movement.

    Note the rules state that a player must make a fair catch BEFORE the ball touches the ground. The rules do not say the ball cannot touch the ground only that the fieldsman must have control over it first. From the moment that Ponting grips the ball off Doni he has complete control over it. It does not move in his hand, therefore Ponting has every right to claim the catch. Doni was given not out because the umpire did not see the ball nick his glove (which it did). Reasonable decision by the umpire given the circumstances but Ponting has nothing to apologize for.

  • sriniv on January 11, 2008, 2:59 GMT

    I disagree with this article completely. This is typical of some Indians, showing up like a "more neutral guy" blaming our own country guys, media etc., Whatever media has shown, whatever we have done so far all seems right to me. Imagine, some one inviting you to their country, only to cast aspersions, no respect for even neutrality, plus act like saints do everything and turn around and put the blame on you. The point is not whether Indians lost the test or not, IT is about deliberate deriliction of ethics by Australia and umpires and on top of which they ban some one without any proof.

    I suggest you dont write such article being an Indian.

  • maharishi on January 11, 2008, 2:03 GMT

    if you see bucknor's performance in last few years it has been below par, really a bad one.umpire bucknor 61 years old,normally at this age you are not efficient this is retireing age, if you see best umpires in the world simon tauffel, alim dar both are good umpires are young . so the point is age does matter and icc should think about it.

  • dwblurb on January 11, 2008, 1:43 GMT

    Sharad Powar said: "Let's just see what happens, but allegations of racism against a member of our cricket team is not acceptable. After the meeting, we then will take action. We fight against racism. Our country supported anti-racism movements in South Africa."

    In other words, no Indian person is capable of racism, or saying something racist, because the country as a whole supported the anti-apartheid movement. Because Harbhajan is found guilty of racism, we consider Mike Proctor and the ICC to be holding the entire Indian nation guilty of the same charge. And this man is the next but one President of the ICC. We're all screwed, I'm afraid.

  • T20_2007 on January 11, 2008, 1:33 GMT

    There is no doubt umpires alone did not cause India's downfall. Afterall, Hogg and Lee also scored heavily in the first innings and AFAIK theirs were chanceless innings. The less said the better about batting of 'frontline' batters such as Yuvraj. Having said that, I am actually glad that sledging/reaction to sledging has come to the forefront. I think it should be reported everytime it crosses a limit until we come to a place where a simple request from the rival captain should be enough to keep it down. And last but not the least, you can't do anything about it but just accept that some players and some umpires are cheats. There I said it.

  • coolguy100 on January 11, 2008, 1:20 GMT

    I agree with Suresh that Indian media and the Indians in India went over the top.There was no need to be so emotional.Nobody is saint.In the Banagalore test against Pakistan, Kumble said something to Md Yosouf and he lost cncentration and got out.Yes, we all agree that complaint against Harbhajan was baseless when there is no proof except Symonds claiming that he was called by "that" word.Yes, There is a reason to argue about this because to brand someone and punish him, in the law courts, you need more than 90% positive evidence before it is done.It was upto BCCI and ICC to sort it out in a diplomatic way.There was no role for the Indian TV's to host debates on this , protests and effigy burning on the streets.There are more important burning issues for the Government to deal with , TV and media to talk about.Yes, everybody cndoned Sreesanth's behaviour in the past.We all know that Bhajji's scene is different and he would carry a tag for life.But the mass hysteria was unnecessary.

  • rnsmith on January 11, 2008, 0:57 GMT

    Channel 9 (TV broadcaster in Australia) commentators showed curious ambivalence about the trust they placed in the technological aids being used to review umpiring decisions. The portion of the public incensed about quality of umpiring appear to have no such concerns. I'd be more concerned if an umpire, who on the evidence available to them, didn't think a player was out but gave them out anyway, fearing a public backlash. Steve Bucknor, who contributed to the drafting of the 2000 Laws of Cricket, in my opinion got several LBW decisions right, including in the dying stages of the Sydney test. Yes, there was an early reprieve to an Indian batsman (although I thought it was Laxman rather than Tendulkar), with the ball appearing to satisfy all requirements of Law 36. Brett Lee was unlucky in the 1st innings with a ball that may or may not have struck outside the line of offstump. That's cricket. I commend Suresh for his courage, as I do anybody prepared to umpire a game.

  • federer1 on January 11, 2008, 0:44 GMT

    Suresh,my question for u is what does national pride means to you? Drop your head,say sorry sir u were right even we know u were nt.for wht??? just to show how gentlemen we r?Procter called indirectly SACHIN,KUMBLE liars by saying only one side is telling the truth even though Sachin was one of the closet person to bhaji&symonds.he believed Hayden who was in slips at tht time.cool.Yes i hate i will repaet the way of journalism in INdia and i hate their sensationalism.But u can't hide rudeness of OZ team and sportsmanship & innocence of indian team.Remember pushing of POwar?Umpiring misktakes r usually on LBWZ nt on thickest edges and clearly pad edges?u dont ask fielding sides for doubtful catches after 4 horrible days of umpiring and when both teams had lost trust in each other.don't u cry when an innocent is pleaded guilty without any evident proofs?remember who statred all this while on indian tour by commenting on 20-20 celebrations.Indians r nt liar,they should b trusted too

  • jayray999 on January 10, 2008, 21:49 GMT

    A good piece written no doubt by a professional writer and is therefore in stark contrast to the vacuous vacillations of Sanjay Manjrekar and his ilk who have a "bone in the middle of their brain." I understand your frustrations Suresh but have you ever known a journalist working for a big media company to be anything but a voyeur with bad grammar. The coverage given to the latest murder case in any city of your choice should set any lingering doubts in your heart to rest. Journalism as it is practiced today is a race to bottom and designed to appeal to the basest instincts we possess. I am convinced that in a democracy we deserve our leaders but never our journalists. So take heart and try not to lose sleep over their outbursts. Honestly I would not read a newspaper any more than I would attend a public hanging. As for the vox populi, they need their Caesars and gladiators so bear them no grudges. Peace.

  • BoonBoom on January 10, 2008, 20:57 GMT

    Excallent article.....

    India is trying to move the focus away from their 2-nil deficit. Even the die-hard Indian fan knows it would be 4-0 drubbing for India, so what is the best way to avoid 4-0? Of course make an excuse and leave Australia in the middle of the tour and Harbhajan's case is the ideal excuse to take an early flight from Australia.

    Indian people and the media (specially crazy people like Navjot Sidhu) must realise India is just an average team and far below average while playing abroad. Take my words, when Australia make it 3-0 at Perth, the same media that is praising Indian team will come down very hard on the same players. Just wait and see.

  • suksub on January 10, 2008, 19:58 GMT

    Suresh, you have accused Indian media of mixing all the issues together and garnishing it, looks to me that you are guilty of the same. You have addressed a slew of issues, that everyone is bound to agree with atleast a few of them. The Sydney test turned sour, due to a multitude of reasons. The main ones being.. 1. When any team walks on to a field, when viewers watch a match, they do so with the expectation that to a certain extent, justice will prevail. This past test match just did not give us that feeling.. 2. Aussies lodging a complaint against Harbhajan. That's a laugh, being masters in it themselves. That's their Ace up their sleeve.. to divert some attention from the questionable match they have won.

    I agree with the comment posted by the_thrummer, Indians have got to learn to put emotions aside and use it for something more important like inept politicians.

  • seano on January 10, 2008, 19:24 GMT

    Great article. I have, as have others, been frustrated by the medias insistance of lobbing these quite seperate issues together, & cobbling together half truths to support whoevers camp they are in. I can't believe any rational personal could believe one side is completely in the right & the other in the wrong here. Harbhajan is probably the most important player in the Indian side. If he did call Symonds a monkey, provoked or not, & given the recent events that preceeded this in the ODI in India, I can't understand, how he couldn't grasp that this has racial conotations & he would face missing matches. I find this the nastiest part of this. That Harbhajan is stating he didn't say this, Symonds & I think Hayden are saying he did. (Tendulkar I understand has stated he didn't hear anything of this) I am interested also in how measured & considered the responses are from rank & file punters in this type of forum compared to the one eyed views of the majority of most countries media.

  • ppunnam on January 10, 2008, 19:23 GMT

    I think this is a fair report. But every one is missing the actual point. Sydney was just a melting pot for all the overlooks that happened over the years. Bad umpiring is going on for a long time, but ICC's inability to understand the consequences of technology that introduced in Broadcasting caused this mess.Either completely embrace the technology in umpiring decisions or just make a rule that broadcasters should not show the replays. sledging and racial comments are not new, but they are not addresses correctly. In case of Australian team spirit, At last it caught up with them, every one are waiting some one to stick up to their faces, at least i was waiting for it. Sidhu is just a joker in Indian media. It was funny seeing his comments, i think he should use his opinions in his comedy show not in cricket.

  • BN_from_india on January 10, 2008, 16:59 GMT

    Indians have not been exposed to racism so much as compared to other forms of discrimination as almost all (if not all) of them are colored. That is the reason they do not know how deep these issues are and where the line is and cannot understand the impact of their words. I was watching the video of the spectators in Mumbai chanting monkey and I am sure none of them had any idea about the level of their taunts and that is precisely why they cannot understand the uproar behind Harbhajan incident (as they think they are also colored so they can say whatever to another colored man). It is time the "global Indian" wakes up to this unfortunate aspect that rest of the world faces and be sensitive to it.

  • CJC1 on January 10, 2008, 16:06 GMT

    At last a journalist who seems to want to add a semblance of reality to this issue. It is long long overdue.

  • maxy_walters on January 10, 2008, 15:56 GMT

    More hilarious pot-calling evidence below. Maybe Gilchrist should have walked? I mean, it was only a World Cup final. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eoc_RqY6yws

  • dauntale on January 10, 2008, 15:42 GMT

    Well done Suresh, You are the few Indians left with a thinking power of their own?Is Harbajan's mother going to be the next match refree or the third umpire? May be the morons at BCCI with their new found toy of the greeback can fix it. Wait for the WACA test. Let's see how our so-called heroes are going to face the thunderbolts of Australia. If they cant face a third rate club side the ACT, how are they going to face Tate and company. My sympatheies to the paper tigers of Indian cricket. Gd day Mate.

  • wmathew on January 10, 2008, 14:53 GMT

    well sledging in all forms should be banned because with different cultures and manners it is going to be misunderstood and more so instead of good hard cricket something else is getting batsmen out. Australians instead of their quality of cricket have been upsetting the players equillibrium . Well at this level players should be ready for most things but instead of hard & fair cricket there is lot of brinkmanship that goes around. Well if you are willing to say one thing then you should be prepared for monkey too if that was said. monkey is equal to stupid and bastard in some sense. if you rile up someone with friendly "bastards" then a riled up monkey might show up. Well so much about that now this. Ricky Ponting had said during the 20/20 final that if a batsmen nicked the ball he should have walked well now we know the "HYPOCRITE" ponting who did not walk so did his teammate. So much for the fair-playing australians who claimed 2 not so clear catches too during the final day.

  • Slip51 on January 10, 2008, 12:46 GMT

    Congratulations Suresh. Hooray at last I have found not only a balanced article but also in general balanced thoughtful postings lacking the hysteria and vitriol of so many others. I have only skimmed so far but will certainly take the time to read on. I concede this Aussie side needs to smarten up in some areas what it does have in spades is self belief and steel mindedness traits which are often mistaken for arrogance in elite athletes. This is something I think the Indian team lacks. For example I recall a recent test in which Hussey put on a century partnership batting with McGrath, who many of us in Aus believe the only reason he batted at no 11 was because there wasn't 21 in a side. Compare that to Tendulkar, without doubt one of the finest bats it has been my pleasure to watch, taking singles of the early balls of the over when batting with Ishant.

  • sambitrath007 on January 10, 2008, 12:24 GMT

    Hey I think the journalist might be true.. but it doesn't mean umpires have a right to give the most outrageous decisions... I do agree India should have been able to save the test due to its batting line up.. What about the aussies being allowed to bat for more than a day to pile up a huge score in the 1st innings due to Bucknor literally giving a notout boon to symonds!!! Why should we behave like gentlemen when we are faced with wild wolves.. Fire needs to be faced with fire and we need to do that.. We have every right to protect our ( country's) dignity and self-respect and our team represent that.. gentlemanship comes next

  • OscartheGrouch on January 10, 2008, 11:25 GMT

    Suresh - great blog, as fair a summary as has ever been made of this affair, wish I had caught it earlier, with the fairest Indian posts of any blog I have yet seen; I hope you will not get any rabid Oz comments, of which there have been plenty.

    I've gone through each innings and removed every run made by every player following an incorrect 'not out' decision (by the tv replays etc). One can't hypothesise about what players incorrectly given 'out' might have gone on to do, but for what it's worth, here's the results: India leading at the end of the first innings by a bit more than 30 runs, Australia leading at the finish by 37 runs. The complexion and timing of the second innings would, of course, have been much different, but everything I think points to a draw. So India has every right to feel unlucky - but not comprehensively cheated. In the end, it was anyway a fluke few balls from Clarke and probably one unlucky nick from Sharma that closed things out - Cricket happens.

  • funatic on January 10, 2008, 9:38 GMT

    I agree that things have been sensationalized and over the top but should it have reached to this in the first place? Surely had there been better decisions by the umpires, more responsible behaviour by the aussie team and a game played in the true sense of fairplay maybe we wouldn't have been in the mess we find ourselves in today. The blame rests solely on the doorstep of the ICC. This incident has been long overdue and if it didn't occur in SCG, it was bound to happen in Perth. Instead of making a mockery of proceedings, Malcolm Speed should instead tender his resignation forthwith. The debacle of the just concluded World Cup and now this, world cricket deserves better administration and the current ICC board has proven beyond a doubt that they are incapable of doing their job. Bring in the new blood!

  • anotherpete on January 10, 2008, 9:00 GMT

    An excellent article. There were several separate issues in this test, and they should be kept separate. 1) The umpiring was terrible (but that was not Australia's fault): India got their way by having Bucknor removed. 2) The contentious catches were given out by the umpires. Sure, they were put under pressure, but isn't that what appealing is all about? The umpires should have decided based on what they saw, not what they were told. 3) *IF* Harbijan did call Symonds a monkey, then he should be suspended. With everything that happened in India during the recent series, he should have known better. Given the reaction by Aus on the field when it happened AND that Kumble asked Ponting to sort it out between the teams, then it probably did happen. Has there been an explanation from India about he did say to get that reaction? 4) The celebrations at the end of the test are completely understandable. Aus just got 3 wickets in the second last over of the game. Ofcourse they were excited.

  • femineview on January 10, 2008, 8:40 GMT

    The article by Suresh Menon is unusual in that an Indian journalist has dared to defy convention and express an opinion that is not pro Indian; nor is it pro Australian. That takes guts. Suresh Menon is correct in asserting that both teams could have handled things a little better but please, no cricketer worth his salt, with the exception of Gilly, would be so stupid as to walk before the umpires decision. Grow up boys and get into the real world, you are all behaving like sookie-la-las! This garbage about the "spirit of cricket" is a couple of decades too late; cricket is a business corrupted by money and left to the manipulation of questionable administrators.

  • agandham on January 10, 2008, 8:38 GMT

    Agreed BCCI has financial muscle et all....but why are we forgetting the issue got out of hand, not just due to Bucknor's woefull umpiring but also because of Harbhajan's ban based on allegations and no evidence. As far as Bucknor is concerned...he has been on the "mistakes do happen" side far too often and no body can deny it was high time for him to retire...about batting out 70 overs....people forget most test innings from any side in the world would see 1 or 2 batsmen making huge scores and stay at the crease for long...so in this case if sourav and dravid were well settled...i believe they would have ATLEAST played out 10-15 more overs between them. So in all fairness keeping in mind Bucknor's past with India...it is only fair he is asked to step down to take the focus back on the game and not on Bucknor in the next test. SO no comment on whether India would have won the match etc etc... The next thing is get on with the game and play to our potential.

  • Cricket4World on January 10, 2008, 8:30 GMT

    Well done Suresh. The best article I have read in the chaos after this Test. Nuetral and Factual. I only wish more people could see it through your eyes.

  • Figaro on January 10, 2008, 7:52 GMT

    According to tonight's TV news, the Indian Board has said the tour of Australia will not continue if Harbajhan is not cleared on appeal. The tour should now be considered dead. No judge should be expected to sit when faced with duress of that order. If he were sitting in court the conduct would be one of the worst forms of contempt of court. I don't believe the complaint should have gone to the the third umpire. However, it did an when it did, there were proper procedures for it to be dealt with and on appeal. The Indian official position is that it will not accept the decision of an independent arbiter if they don't like the decision. That is just not acceptable!

  • 0cri8 on January 10, 2008, 7:47 GMT

    Anybody who has played or watched cricket should understand and accept that India lost this game, other issues not withstading. However, I am not quite able completely assimilate Mr. Menon's article. It looks more like 'grand standing'. Anil Kumble called the Aussie team unfair. Why? The aussies taught 'sledging' to the cricket world. Now, for them to turn back and quote cricketing laws to justify a complaint is baloney!. We also forget what trigerred this coplaint. Habhajan patted Lee at the bottom (not whacked remember) and symonds says "he had a go at Harbhajan" as he likes to stand up for his mate. Maan, this is a joke! If Harbhajan has called symonds a 'big monkey' (lets accept for arguments sake he had), it was in retaliation to symonds having a go at Harbhajan. One can imagine how 'colouful'an aussie sledge would be. Why Ponting/Symonds ran to the refree? Also, did anybody care to ask Lee how badly he was mauled by Harbhajan and what he wanted to about it?

  • the_thrummer on January 10, 2008, 6:54 GMT

    A good article that makes sense. There are just too many people in India with too much time on their hands to go around burning effigies on far too many occasions. They don't seem to have the time to go around crying over inept politicians or maybe contributing to the country's GDP once in a while. It's embarrasing to watch really. The media plays its own part in further deluding uneducated minds. I watched a clip from Zee News recently that was accusing the umpires of conspiracy and the whole program was tailored like one of the overly dramatic soaps people are given to watch on TV. Having said that,I am one of the Indians who is furious with the incompetent umpires that cost us the match and their willingness to trust an opposition that would be more than ready to see the back of Ganguly. It really comes down to the umpires to be regulating a match. I support the BCCI's demand to get Bucknor removed. Also,it's surprising how Procter can so readily take Symonds' word over Harbhajan's.

  • Haksi on January 10, 2008, 6:04 GMT

    I love my cricket and am naturally hurt when our team loses and more so in the manner it did at Sydney. Butthe Indian media ,specially some of the TV channels have really gone over the top in targeting the umpires and some of the auatralians is embarrasing to any but a rabid person. It only shows the extent to which some persons like sidhu and some channels like the one which promptly came up with interviews of harbhajan's mother are just trying to get viewers by sensationalism. All this will only harm Indian cricket. The only person with rational views on TV appeared to be Jadeja. One fact however remains, even if harbhajan called symonds a monkey it was cry baby stuff for ponting to go running and complain about it. They have used much dirtier words and in their lexicon that is called playing hard uncompromising cricket

  • stevo141 on January 10, 2008, 5:31 GMT

    Well done Suresh! This is far and away the best article I have read regarding this matter all week.

    Congratulations on your impartiality, have you ever thought of umpiring :)

  • AsGoodAsItGets on January 10, 2008, 4:53 GMT

    We have blown the cover off this one. But India is an emotional country and the reactions are nothing new. By overreacting we run the risk of not being taken seriously and have not enhanced our image in anyway. The talking must be done only by demonstrating superior skill on the field . My assessment of the test would be, on a favorable wicket we played a closely fought contest which might have been better matched had the umpiring decisions gone our way. Our batting was better in the 1st innings while the Aussie batsman put up a poor show which almost cost them the match. Our spinners were wily and our pacers bowled well in patches. The poor umpiring has brought attention to an age old debate and this time ICC needs to rethink their stance. Technology for umpiring is an effective tool to bring about uniform standards and increase accuracy in ruling decisions and is better used as a supplement than replacements. The gap between technology used in media and on the field must be bridged.

  • parsar on January 10, 2008, 4:49 GMT

    Ankur, I think even this Mr. Menon is going over the board in trying to be different.... Even if the issues are all different, they are all serious. It was important to take up all these issues by the media to bring about certain improvements in the system, even if they take time. First, to make umpires accountable. Second, to make Aussie Cricketers more gentenmanly. Third, to have a uniform code of conduct applicable to all irrespective of teh country they represent. And thankfully, Indian Cricket has the financial power to get things done their way. Might as well take advantage of that. Thats the history of any world event. The powerful gets his say. There is no getting away from that. Mr. Menon also conveniently chose to overlook many other umpiring disasters that occurred during the game. Like many people have said so far, even if 50% of the decisions had been right, India had a fair chance even to win the game, if note draw it. Regarding Mark Benson asking Ponting if Ganguly w

  • Sir-Collingwood on January 10, 2008, 4:07 GMT

    Thank you for finally bringing some sense and reason back into the picture...this has become a fight between boys, each armed with different pieces of arsenal in the childish armory, one with money the other with prowess, both arrogant, and sore losers. It's enough to turn even the neutral off cricket.

  • asoke on January 10, 2008, 3:56 GMT

    Mr. Menon seems to be one of those jurnalists who wants to looked on as unbiased journalist but he has gone overboard here.

    Major issue here is not of bad umpiring, player not walking after being out our gentlemen's(???) agreement on catches etc. I agree that player should not walk if he is given not out. Indian media did go overboard and burning effigies, oh - so Indian and inane.

    The issue here is racism charge against Harbhajan, this is serious and a major blot on a person in this day and age and should not be pressed on so blatantly. In india calling a person monkey is not racist, it is saimple slur or abuse. Aussies have given worse to other teams and term bastard is definitely is the ultimate insult and worse than monkey. Also, how are you sure that Ponting is not doing this get harbhajan out of the match as Harbhajan does has Pointing's number and gets him every time and I sure Poing want 4-0 result and harbhajan could be major obstruction.

  • rastus_odinga_esquire on January 10, 2008, 3:41 GMT

    After seeing the reaction of the Indian team and the renta-crowds in India burning effigies (It's a game of CRICKET, people, get a life!) I wanted India to be SENT home (never mind abandoning the tour). Things happen during the game and nobody likes a sook.

    Sport has been played that way ever since Cain and Abel (Adam's boys) played in the under 9s.

    I also think some people have short memories. India is not the first or only team to suffer from bad umpiring decisions - any team touring India prior to international umpires can attest to that.

    Would there have been any talk of abandonment, or demand by the BCCI that Bucknor be replaced if India had held on to draw the game?

    Racial slurs are ugly whether they come from Aussies or Indians. What would the BCCI have demanded if these slurs came from an Australian to an Indian?

    India and the BCCI have to learn to accept that not everything will go their way on and off the field and it's a lesson well learned for us all.

  • mukkus on January 10, 2008, 3:15 GMT

    The article is really a refreshing one.With so many valid points to be counted on.The medias hype is making the issue into a big explosive and cashing it on like the vultures.. but still the points that need to be taken in the match are really been left out and there is really no media which is really puting its eye on the form the players are on-field. they are making a hype of the issue that is regarding the horrundous umpiring and racial abusement cases etc..., so on .. really your view tough harsh is really an important one that need not be ignored the opening combination of indians is not all working the wall., mr.dravid is thrown into the uncomfortable zone of opening slot when the team knows that he is not in the pinch of his form yuvi seemed to be a choice to open when the team was picked but to acomodate him the comfortable positions of the players are being thrashed. indian team as a whole was not able to play out a session without loosing a wicket or two.what a pity!!!!

  • hunnydeo on January 10, 2008, 2:59 GMT

    I agree with you Mr. Mennon. If Aussies are arrogant on thier team strength and Indians on thier financial strength-I wonder what is worse? Buring effigies and flags is absolute disgrace.

  • SreenathJ on January 10, 2008, 2:54 GMT

    A different article at last, but then even as some other articles try to toe the natural line of logic, Mr.Suresh has faltered in the bid to set-right everything that has happened to bias the article towards the australians. Claiming that Tendulkar was out in his twenties to an LBW is balderdash. Australians were given those sort of decisions also,infact they were given a whole lot of reprieves. But I agree with his view that the media and the BCCI have tied up two irrelevant topics- The Aussie team's behaviour and the racial slur/umpiring errors, to create a cocktail of a story which sells bigtime.Its shameful the way BCCI has handled this issue, very immature and silly line of thought.Disgrace. But the ICC has done the right thing by chucking Bucknor out of the series. There is an acceptable threshold to everything - and noone knew he would make such glaringly wrong decisions by-th-dozen in the Sydney test before it started, which is why he was sacked.(Get the logic right Mr.Menon)

  • valleycricketer on January 10, 2008, 2:22 GMT

    Mr Menon, you had better get your family to change it's phone numbers. Once the BCCI is done picking the bones of the ICC; it's your family's turn. How dare you highlight the massive cover up that is occurring here.

    I'm an Australian and it is a breath of fresh air for someone to point out the ridiculous Indian behaviour. Australia have been playing cricket like this since the 1980's when Allan Border was in charge. All the Indians have done is anger the Australian team; not a wise move. They had better bring all the skill in the world come Perth. Australia should drop Hogg and unleash the wild thing (Shaun Tait) on a fast and bouncy WACA strip....

  • crackone on January 10, 2008, 2:15 GMT

    While I fully agree with the stupidness of TV channel to bring in Harbhajan's mother into all this,and I agree with you about demand for sacking of Bucknor also being wrong, but Mr. Suresh after being at originator of boorish and colonial approach of Aussies team in general and its Skipper in particular, what moral right he had to complaint against Harbhajan's comment. If you provoke a man behind a point, you better be prepared for the retort. Or you want India should not reply and keep on swallowing insanities and insults like they have been all along? Is it in spirit of game to distrub concentration of batsmen to get him out, if he proves to be equal or better than your skills? Indian team may not be saint, but they didn't complain. Like it was reported that 'second slur was last straw for Ponting', how many more profanties and insults you want Indian team to suffer, before it becomes last straw fo them, or Indian team has to be beast of burden adinfintum for such behaviour.

  • strat_chili on January 10, 2008, 2:13 GMT

    Finally, someone from India who isnt completely suckered by the BCCI and the media. I totally agree with Mr. Menon and most of the comments posted. With out a doubt Bucknor had to go, it was the most pathetic umpiring i have ever seen ,the umpires who umpire my weekend games in the local 3rd grade competition would do a better job. A part from that though, the BCCI, The Indian and Australian (namely Peter Roebuck)media have latched on to it like a hyena onto a sick deer. What better time for the BCCI to flex some muscle. What better time to find any excuse at the sad way India bowled their second innings and batted their seccond innings. This SHOULD now spur the indian cricket team to go out their and play some really tough cricket. Indian pride is hurt, what about the Australian pride, our national cricketers (and to many children, HEROES) are having effigies burnt of them. I think its time to grow up BCCI and people of the media. The milk has been spilt, stop crying and clean it up.

  • LithiumBismuth on January 10, 2008, 2:12 GMT

    This piece seems to be written just for the heck of it, to seemingly rise above the normals and try a higher moral ground. I would say it fails miserably. What does the writer expect after the Australian fiasco? That Indians just keep quiet about it and sulk. This is exactly the kind of attitude that has made Australians the kind of bullies they are currently. All said and done, finally we have an incident that will hopefully bell the cat and this issue will make them think twice before rough-shodding others in future. It is easy to be an arm-chair critic and comment on the goings on, maybe Suresh Menon should have been the one facing the music of being branded a racist and he would realise the stigma attached to it. It is high time that people realise that Gandhigiri does not work with Australians, it is Dadagiri that works. BCCI and the Indian media has shown who is Dada here (however overboard and jingoistic it may look), but it has hopefully put the point across.

  • SensibleAussie on January 10, 2008, 2:09 GMT

    A refreshingly balanced view point Suresh, and hopefully these points will be closely considered by your fellow Indians seeing that it comes from the clear eyes of one of their own. I can still see some ridiculous comments from some very proud Indians, but i also see a lot of sensible ones. For an Indian in particular to see passed the smoke screen of the media is an admirable quality and i hope the sense you have shown washes onto your compatriots. All the commotion aside, one fact still remains, even if you can say the Indians got 5 bad decisions in their second innings, the Indians headed in with 11 batsmen, most of high quality, and they could not outlast 72 overs. In particular 3 batsmen fell in one over. For this to happen, India should look to their own backyards and start asking some serious questions...

  • scifilvr on January 10, 2008, 1:43 GMT

    I guess for somebody who grew up reading Suresh Memon, it (the article above) was a throwback to the old days.

    Wit and objectivity, these days, are not what people want, Suresh. They want their egos to be further blown up.

    All good observations. Please keep writing more frequently!

    Cheers.

  • saltedmushroom on January 10, 2008, 1:20 GMT

    Mr Menon, Whats wrong with media playing by the ball. Media is the voice of any nation. If you step out of India and talk to an average foreigner who has access to television and newspapers, most of them have so wrong views about India. I met so many new people and get shocks sometime by listening their views. What I am trying to say is that India till recent times have not worked on their image in media world.

    Now excess is wrong I admit but personally I believe the current issue should be debated a lot as Cricket is a passionate game and passions run any sport.

    Cheers

  • pshaik on January 10, 2008, 1:15 GMT

    Mr Menon, with due respect i think your analysis is absolute b.s. In all respects it looks like you are trying to impress everybody by taking middle ground in the process you have lost looking at it objectively.Trying to compare LBW to glaring edges.Were you high when writing this article ?

  • Orangeman on January 10, 2008, 1:14 GMT

    At last the voice of reason. I hope Peter Roebuck managed to read it, for it was not only the Indian media who over reacted!! As an Australian who is passionate about cricket I cringed on more than one occasion at the poor umpiring decisions, which for the most part went the way of the Aussies. A fairer result may well have been a draw. And I wonder whether this furore would have occurred had India won or drawn the match?

  • MKEdude on January 10, 2008, 1:04 GMT

    Mr. Mennon... It was a good article and you made a few very good points, although I must admit you have over-reacted and it seemed as though you are against the Indian team. True, the media went overboard with its reactions but the BCCI did what is good for the team by having Steve Bucknor removed from standing in the series. I dont think the BCCI has set an undesirable precedent by having Bucknor removed from the series; it merely passed on the message that umpiring standards need to be raised and the umpires standing in a test match should always be attentive and use the technology available whenever in doubt. It is high time team India displayed a sense of unity, and kudos to the BCCI for backing up Harbhajan and the team in the appeal.

  • revnol on January 10, 2008, 0:59 GMT

    Hi Suresh, Great article. I wonder how the people in India would feel if we here in Australia REACTED by burning flags, effigies & photos. I don't think they would would like it reguardless of what happens in a match.

    As for Peter Roebuck's article he should learn to pull his head in with the stupid kneek jerk REACTION of his, what a looser. Keep up the great work. Regards....Revnol

  • constrictor on January 10, 2008, 0:42 GMT

    Interesting comments. I do think that Bucknor was not such a great umpire as made out to be, but he is definitely on his way out, however the Indian management is carrying their actions too far. In 2001, India's tour to the West Indies there were absolutely horrendous decisions made against the Indian team by Asoka DeSilva, in the first two tests that I attended, Guyana and Trinidad. The results then were a draw in Guyana and a win in Trinidad for India, no complaints about the umpire then. Now they are two-nil down they have complaints against the umpire, could it be plain and simple racism?! They haven't complained about Benson and he started the ball rolling.

  • Sridhar.P on January 10, 2008, 0:32 GMT

    Suresh, I agree that the media might had gone overboard, not just Indian media but in some cases Australian too. But, the media makes it's bucks by sensationalizing issues and rallying public issue. Let's leave it at that.

    About Harbhajan and racial abuse. If there is no evidence against him, it's unfair to give him a racist tag. Imagine the moral, social and financial bearing of this on his life. At least, one does not suspect Sachin to be backing him without any reason (there's even more at stake for Sachin in backing Bhajji). The fact that Ricky Ponting let it go out of his hands and then Mike Procter failed to deliver a fair verdict needed some emphasization. In a way, it's an eye opener to ICC to get their act right in umpiring issues and be consistent & fair in implementing their regulations.

  • sray23 on January 10, 2008, 0:28 GMT

    The points you make are very valid. The Indian media is sensational at its mildest. The Indians did bat badly in their 2nd Innings. And there has been a confusion of issues here in the media which has fuelled the sensationalism.

    But even looking at the whole situation dispassionately I am still vehemently of the opinion that India were hard done by on several counts on this match. I live in Sydney and watched most of the match and everytime India had an advantage over Australia they were cut down to size by glaring umpiring errors. Tendulkar's legside reprieve doesn't look nearly as damaging for Aus when put next to the howlers made against India. India didn't play the perfect match by any means, hardly any team ever does, but they played much better than Aus and at least deserved to draw the match if not win it.

  • kusal11 on January 10, 2008, 0:15 GMT

    I am thirteen and I agree that India are making too much of a big deal out of the events that have happened in this match. Mainly it is the umpires fault not Australia's. If the umpires had made the correct decisions it wouldn't of mattered if the Aussies appealed for everything because the umpires would not of given the batsmen out. I believe that the umpires are to blame for this controversy. I also believe that walking shouldn't be compulsory because even though you get an option to be out or not when you are given not out, but what do you do when you are given out when you are not out. You don't get a choice then. India must settle down and hope that the umpiring improves throughout the rest of the series.

  • Kensei on January 9, 2008, 23:30 GMT

    Thankyou for a mature and sensible article objectively looking at both sides.

    I'm a recent convert to watching cricket. I've been following it now for around 4 years. I want to say how grieved I feel as an ordinary Australian at the level of anger and hatred directed towards us from many posting online. Sure, we have some Aussie bogans posting their drivel too, but I had no idea there were millions of Indians ready to burn effigies of umpires and demand crucifiction, torture, and other unspeakables. I had no idea that such powerful emotional attacks were possible from grown men either.

    I'm also disturbed to see for the first time the strings the BCCI pull in the politics of the game. Until recently, I thought the cricket administration was detached and left the game pretty much alone to be played. Now, 2 umpires are globally humiliated and venomously sacked by order of the Imperial Starship BCCI. I start to wonder whether this game really is sick and corrupted underneath.

  • Gollum173 on January 9, 2008, 23:15 GMT

    Excellent points - particularly about the priorities of politicians in India.

    India may have financial clout, yet they sometimes act like a board who have suddenly been handed power and don't quite know what they should be doing with it - the victim mentality still exists, yet it is now out of place. There is an immaturity, and it would be dangerous to hand over control to such immature custodians.

    But I am disgusted at images of the Australian flag being burned (do you ever see Australians burning the Indian flag?) or effigies of umpires or players - again more immaturity and stirring the pot, and these are most certainly set up by the Indian media.

    I would like to see passion and fire on the field by India, but soberness and sensibility by their administrators off the field. This could have been handled much more sensibly.

  • Chidimar on January 9, 2008, 23:11 GMT

    I am sorry, but this article makes no sense. Two things have changed in world cricket. The Indians players have stopped taking nonsense (Sunil Gavaskar started this yaers ago) and the BCCI has plenty of money. We are no longer a nation that can be intimidated - that period is over. Ponting's behaviour was unexcusable and if an Indian cricketer did that, he would have been in serious trouble. Ponting has, with his conduct, brought the game to disrepute and should be banned for atleast 5 matches. Regarding Bhajji, if he said what he has been accused of, shame on him. But unfortunately there is no clear evidence. Hogg must be punished for his verbal abuse. Indians take his abuse far more seriously than wahat Bhajji is suupposed to have said. That said, it is indeed sad that we lost this match despite two poor decisions against us in the last innings. Is somebody giving that a thought?

  • Poods on January 9, 2008, 22:57 GMT

    I think that you on the ball for most of the article but i find it hard when people say that Sachin Tendulkar and the likes, after watching many replays and using a virtual indicator, are out LBW. Leg befores are always given both ways and are very tough to call. If Tendulkar's LBW should have been given than surely all the other LBW appeals that on replay and hawke eye show that the ball is going on to hit the wickets, know matter if it is going to hit a third up middle stump or clipping the bail should also be given and called bad calls from the umpires.

  • akravi81 on January 9, 2008, 22:46 GMT

    I agree with the crazy media attention given to this situation. I also agree that in spite of horrendous umpiring decisions, that India's batting failed. I do not however agree with letting the Australian team, especially Ricky Ponting off the hook for bad sportsmanship. I just can't stand the fact that they continue to harp on how righteous they are in light of everything that has happened. Either way the best way to deal with this situation is beat the HELL out of Australia in the next test match.

  • Blakey on January 9, 2008, 22:46 GMT

    Thank you Mr Menon for your ability to look beyond the patriotic Brouhaha and look at the real issues from this game. As an Australian I sometimes cringe at the behaviour of our representatives in all sports but I respect that they are only human and get on with supporting them in the way they deserve. I am a little unsure how it will be possible to BAN 'sledging' as it is so ingrained in many countries and so difficult to objectively police eg Monkey and Bastard.

  • Krickt_lover on January 9, 2008, 22:37 GMT

    Mr. Mennon i agree with what you have written. We all know the umpiring was a mess and Australians did not play in the spirit of the game. The Indian media like always have blown this matter out of proportion. The focus should be on how to avoid such circumstances next time but instead they are using the events of a Sydney test to get more viewers..... Sydney test matches was one of the best test matches I ever saw but now it will always be remembered as a test which left a bitter taste in all aspects!

  • cricket_DD on January 9, 2008, 22:24 GMT

    Suresh you do have a point.. with all the stuff happening we completely ignored the pathetic performance of the indian team, even with the decisions we should have been able to draw the match with some applied batting like Kumble did. Anyways Great writing.. Please teach some of it to Sanjay Manjrekar.. who also said something along the same lines but could not dare to come straight!! How did cricinfo allow him to do that report when the standard is set so high by guys like you!!! Kudos.

  • Ravi78 on January 9, 2008, 22:23 GMT

    I totally agree with this article. Well done Suresh, you have presented an unbiased view on the whole thing. I am an Indian and always been a great cricket lover (not just Indian cricket). The whole episode has been turned ugly by the way BCCI and Indian media handled it. BCCI and media has played with the emotions of gullible Indian public by portraying Harbhajan as representative of Indian pride and honour. How dare they put national pride and honour on one person? Going by past incidents involving Harbhajan, I personally believe Harbhajan is no "Harichandra" and he must have blurted out that word. He has been an uncouth and irritating cricketer . Also I cannot believe Australians would stoop low down to make false allegation as claimed by Indian media and BCCI. Lack of evidence doesn't mean he is not guilty. Having said all these, it would have been nicer if this issue was settled off-the-field considering the great cricketing ties between two nations at bigger picture.

  • HipHipHurray on January 9, 2008, 22:18 GMT

    For all those who believe that India should have lodged a protest against the umps if they were not happy - this has been done umpteen times in the past with no result. Apparently ICC doesn't believe that its umps can do any wrong. For those who think the umps were having a bad day in office - don't try it with your boss. You'll be fired before you know what hit you! There were bad decisions from day 1 to the final day in the match.

  • Hyd_Heroes on January 9, 2008, 22:01 GMT

    Suresh

    The anger is not about the LBW decisions (of Symonds, Ponting or Sachin) and hence, they are not mentioned. The anger is for caught behind, claiming of catches that were not taken and not leaving when a catch is taken at slip..

    Hope you understand..

    Cheers

    Shyam

  • bulldog on January 9, 2008, 21:59 GMT

    You don't need extreme agro or cheat in sports to win. The epitome of grace and gentility in sports is Roger Federer - who with his silken grace and sublime touch, pummels the over-aggressive and over-rated Aussie, Lleyton Hewitt with supreme ease. India, please note.

    Playing hard and tough is fine, but cheating is not acceptable. And that's what Australians did in Sydney.

  • Play_Hard_But_Fair on January 9, 2008, 21:26 GMT

    1. No one can disagree that umpiring can influence the results of matches in a big way. Why not then concentrate on finding ways to eliminate these umpiring errors - for example through technology. 2. Since, it is impossible to draw a line on what is offensive why not take steps to eliminate sledging. I think team Australia has unknowingly laid a trap for themselves - I wont be surprised if Australians get reported to umpires very frequently from now on after they set the precedent - which will automatically keep them in check.

  • Mahesh28582 on January 9, 2008, 21:25 GMT

    An honourable article. Many thanks and congratulations. There is no doubt that Bucknor is well past his best, and has been for some time. As correctly pointed out above, Tendulkar was himself the beneficiary of a poor decision and went on to drag India back into the match. Nor did India appear to have a problem with Bucknor when he repreived Sreesanth at Lord's last year, allowing them to escape with a draw. The Indian Board's decision to continue with the tour only on two conditions is particularly shameful, and has eroded much of the good will they gained as a result of the unfortunate umpiring during the second Test. This is the second time the BCCI have ridden roughshod over a home board within a decade (the 2001-02 tour of South Africa being the other), and does nothing to further the interest of the game internationally. Umpires sometimes play a part in teams losing (Chennai 1998, Kolkata 2001 being two examples), but threatening to go home as a result simply shows immaturity.

  • VickyRocks on January 9, 2008, 21:22 GMT

    while I agree with you that our media is always ready to go overboard in a chance to get some TRP but I beg to differ over the point that BCCI is maing too much of the issue.In fact one must congratulate the BCCI and particularly the players that they rallied behind Harbhajan and were ready to face extreme possibilities in a bid to impart justice to Harbhajan. Yes Indians are not angels and there on field behaviour is not godlike.But the question is that how often we see that an Australian getting away by saying nasty things to others as its said thats part of their sporting culture , and when a subcontinent players does the same he is immidieately reprimanded by the refree.Nobody is saying that Bhajji is right but why does the refree chose to lend an ear to Ponting and Symonds and ignore Sachin who is by far the least controversial player in the world.Mr. Menon I am afraid that had the response to this situation been any lower than the Aussies would have again gone scott free .

  • Ramkoo on January 9, 2008, 21:19 GMT

    Great article. The reaction to the racism charge is overblown. It would have been escalated by the media and the public if India had actually won this game. All the anger over very poor umpiring (the worst I have seen in 22 years of cricket watching) and the fact that India lost is being focussed at the wrong place ie the racism incident. The real issue to be address for cricket's benefit is what is the role of a third umpire and when should they be brought into play. Every other sport has a challenge mechanism and that needs to be inplace for cricket. A team gets 2 or 3 challenges an innings and the decision on the field can be overturned only if video conclusively proves otherwise. With this in place Ponting may not be out, Symonds would surely have been, Dravid and Ganguly would not be given out. This is the real problem that needs a solution, not one word that may or may not have been uttered by one player on the field.

  • MiddleStump on January 9, 2008, 21:07 GMT

    The article makes several good points about the jingoism in India, and lack of planning by the BCCI. However the author has also made some goofs. It was by no means certain that Tendulkar was out lbw. It was a close decision that rightly went in favour of the batsman. There is no justification for Mark Benson to ask Ponting whether Ganguly was (not) caught simply because he happened to be closer than the square leg umpire. He should have called for the third umpire instead. This was the worst umpiring in test cricket I have seen in over four decades and removing one of the umpires cannot be condemned outright. It just might avoid a repeat of the same fiasco in Perth. Besides, preserving with unacceptable levels of umpiring incompetence also sends the wrong message.

  • AnandRag1 on January 9, 2008, 20:50 GMT

    Brilliant! As the guiness beer advertisement character in the US cries! I take my hat of to the lucidity and level headed dissection of this whole chaos that is the India-Aus test series. Indian people go overboard with their reactions rather than addressing the problems at hand. Poor umpiring and unsporting/boorish behaviour by the opponents. It's too much to show two donkeys bearing the placards 'I'm Steve Bucknor' and 'I'm Mark Benson'. These were umpires who have done a great job in the past and like every one else of us, are human and have made errors.

    This knee jerk reaction that our media and masses seem to bask in needs to stop if people are to take us more seriously. Thinking about the Gandhian way, this is certainly not the way the Mahatma would have advocated! Kudos Mr. Menon, very well written.

  • boonyjr on January 9, 2008, 20:48 GMT

    Very nice work Suresh. That is one of the most well thought out pieces of literature I've seen on this embarrassing subject. This has been an embarrassing state of affairs for cricket overall. I love the sport and love the passion it evokes just as much, but it should never go any further than "your average man" complaining about bad decisions to his friend over a cold beverage or two. Sure, the knick from Symonds was obvious. Even Symonds admitted to it. To say he played unfairly by not walking is unfair in itself. The rules of cricket appear to require a drastic overhaul if we are to abandon the necessity of having an umpire and rely solely on the players to adjudicate the decisions. At the moment a player doesn't have to walk if he is not given out by the umpire. Simple as that! If we add a clause to say that a player must walk when he knows he's out then we can say that players cheated or whatever, but while the laws of cricket remain as they are, we cannot honestly point blame at

  • tree81 on January 9, 2008, 20:47 GMT

    Excellent article Mr.Menon. you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned the BCCI capitalized on Harbhajan's ban and used it to cover up a pathetic performance. ICC is Indian Cricket council as we have the most arm power. Recent performances tend to indicate India is only fit to play 20-20 cricket.India committed to accepting the fielders word on low catches and have to live with the consequences. Ours is not a team but a group of individuals playing to attain individual records. umpiring affected both teams. Now India has set a precedent and all teams will surely request ICC to ban umpires they do not like if they are officiating in matches played by that team. India should quit talking and start doing.

  • sakraghu on January 9, 2008, 20:36 GMT

    Suresh has got it all wrong. It is not the Indian teams "Ugly nationalism" that is in question. Although I have found that Indians are anything but nationalistic. It is the ICC as an organization that is broken and doesn't know how to function, which should be in question. Hysterical mob mentality is nothing new in India and is beyond the game of cricket. However ICC is responsible for the actions and deeds of the umpires and match refree. They need to evaluate their personnel on a regular basis and not have to be forced to fire some one like they way they had to do Bucknor. ICC needs to take some serious lessons on running a league from better run sporting leagues in other countries.

  • lovercricket on January 9, 2008, 20:35 GMT

    Mr. Menon, I guess you got it wrong. Yes, the board is over reacting, but standing by their player is what they have to do. It makes perfect sense if a player is convicted without any evidence. How in the world would you justify Rashid latif's ban for 5 macthes by the same match refree and no action against any Aussie player (read Ponting)? May I ask the difference Mr. Procter? And why so much about Mr Bucknor? Comments like "yeah, the umpiring is poor but.." . No BUT here. One of his many "obvious" wrong decisions could spoil career of a 19 year old..What about him? I don't see anything wrong if borad and players are backing Harbajan. It's people like you who wants to publish Article trying to be different by presenting the facts in isolation. How in the world could you compare Symonds caught behind and Sachin's LBW? One is "obvious" nick and other one is "drifting leg side" ball..

    Poor article , I must say.

  • harig on January 9, 2008, 20:30 GMT

    I concur with the notion of the Indian support system having gone overboard here..but then it comes as no surprise given past reactions. If there is one good thing that i hope comes out of all this is for cricket to step out of its 'neandrathalic' days of embracing technology. Putting aside the racism issue, what has let down cricket the most it its lack of forward thinking in an area where every other sport has moved much further along.

    And before someone starts talking about snickos accuracy, hawkeye flaws etc..lets just say that the use a simple referral based review system using some very simple technology [eyes seeing a ball hit a bat..or not.] would have avoided most of the issues that rose in this game.

    I think Bucknor has to be reprimanded because he was incompetent in this game..but the ICC is being irresponsible in not providing people with the toughest jobs the tools they need to get things right.

  • sxbah on January 9, 2008, 19:50 GMT

    I don't think much uproar is over the umpiring decisions. At least most rational Indian supporters understand this, even though in terms of probability , the odds of such blatant decisions against one side are very low. The problem I have is with the Bhajji decision and Procter's handling of it. How can he just say: I believe one side over the other. Could he be more logical, e.g. look into where players were on the field and who could have heard what ? The Aussie media would like to paint this as BCCI using its financial muscle. For Indians, the feeling is the opposite. For too long ICC has turned a blind eye to Aussie boorishness (Slater, McGrath e.g.) and penalized Indians for dissent, excessive appealing etc. The arbitrary handling by Procter was the final blow. I have no problem in asking for justice for a team mate as Indians did. The threat of suspension over umpiring was never made. Lets not confuse facts here.

  • bharatM on January 9, 2008, 19:43 GMT

    I agree the media reaction and the crowd sentiment is over the top. But why does it come as a surprise, from the land of melodrama and Bollywood? That is how we react, burning effigies marching out in the streets for everything - from cricket to politics. And as far as TV is concerned, it is pretty much the same worldwide, Hype and more Hype, less and less of substance.

    I also think that BCCI did the right thing. One needs to stand up and protest to injustice, clout or no clout. If this kind of farcical umpiring and behaviour were seen against a visiting Australian side in India, I have little doubt that the reaction from the Australian side would have been stronger. They would have very likely have returned, or refused to play if the ban was not revoked.

  • saadibaba on January 9, 2008, 19:40 GMT

    This is the best article I have read on this matter so far. Congrats to Suresh for taking a stand and telling Indian media and fans the reality. If this article was written by an Englishman it would have been easy for some to disregard it as biased. I think the problem is that the sub-continent teams make too much out of cricket. Its just a game. If a player is accused or found guilty of cheating or racism or whatever, it does not mean the whole nation is responsible for it. We saw the same thing in the now infamous "Shilpa/Richard Gere kiss" incident. Burning effigies has become so commonplace in todays culture, I wonder if there are any shops opening up in those places providing 24 hour effigy burning services. Nationalism is a good thing but it can be dangerous and irresponsible if it takes the form of blackmail and intimidation. BCCI should not isolate themselves from the rest of the cricketing world just because they can. Please leave cricket to the players and fans.

  • cerebral on January 9, 2008, 19:39 GMT

    It is an eye opening article written by Mr. Suresh Menon. I fully endorse his point of view. It is good to see patriotism (which already existed) and aggression (which has recently developed) in Team India but quite frankly they, including BCCI, have over reacted to this situation. They are trying to hide their defeat behind poor umpiring and bhajji's case. Media has no doubt fumed the issue to make money out of it. BCCI and Indian citizens should understand that it's merely a media war and every channel is trying to sit on the bandwagon. Cricketer's family should be kept out of the picture. I take it is an intrusion in someone's personal life. Furthermore, I would blame ex cricketers like Sunil Gawaskar and Novjat Sidhu who have constantly used provocative remarks. I am a great fan of the former but the language he used ("utter non-sense umpiring...") was not necessary. I wonder if he still falls under the ICC's code of conduct. Shouldn't he be penalized for using such remarks?!

  • Leelas11 on January 9, 2008, 19:36 GMT

    Mr Menon nice article and you brought out another angle of thought which everybody should look into. As you rightly said there are issues in the match but there are bigger issues than what has occurred, our batting. Some people are escaped by these controversies. Hope our captain will look into those issues and resolve before Perth test.

  • moni22 on January 9, 2008, 19:35 GMT

    Mr.Menon it seems that u r still in awe of the great Australian team lead by Steve Waugh and the way they played their cricket.For that Mr.Roebuck got it spot on when he said that Ponting has converted a team of professionals into a pack of wild dogs where only winning matters and nothing less is acceptable.On the 1st day of the Test after the pathetic decisions made by the umpires,Mr.Gavaskar made a point regarding Michael Holding's comments during the Ashes last year where he said that all the marginal decisions seemed to go Australia's way.I even read an article in a leading English newspaper where Chanderpaul said that if the 50-50 decisions went against Australia then many of the teams would be able 2 beat them.Sidhu's comments were far-fetched but there is no doubt that national honour is at stake.It is a serious claim to call someone a racist.And if the Aussies were so concerned then why didnt they complain while in India? Dogs can be lions in their own backyard!

  • prakashchoutpalli on January 9, 2008, 19:20 GMT

    I dont agree with you Mr Menon.Yes,Media overhyped it but they do that everytime.What is important here , is we dont forget what was the most important thing.Umpiring decisions were at their worst ,harbhajan Singh was accused of racism .So we need to get justice for it.Thats it

  • msrp on January 9, 2008, 19:08 GMT

    I agree with most things said in the comments above. But the truth is it is not hte first time the media is OVER REACTING on an issue. And the media talk has nothing to do with patriotism or love for the game. I have seen the same media making the most derogatory comments on the same cricketers when they failed. Just a small example will be the treatment of Ganguly when he was in the storm of non performance to today. I am not saying tha the media should not report it but the extent to which the media goes with their comments is not acceptable. I belive in freedom of speech, but at what costs. MEDIA should be made accoutable for thier staements. If statements are made that are derogatory they should be held responsible for it. A true journalist I believe will not have an issue with it.

  • delroy on January 9, 2008, 19:02 GMT

    Firstly Sachin is not supposed to walk when a ball hits him on the pads. Nobody has done that. That is nothing compared to the decisions concerning the Aussie batsmen not walking when "nicking the ball" and not given out. And remember the fact that when the Aussies were fielding they were appealing almost for anything to put pressure on the Umpires (Dravid given out even after not nicking the ball).

    Just to write a anti-India perspective makes no sense as no team can win if so many wrong decisions are going against them. And as far as the racial slur is concerned it ws all set up by the Aussies and Symonds was their point man . Just because Harbhajan taps Lee on his back does not warrant Symonds to come to his defence - there was no sword or knife involved !! Symonds instigated it and now the whole of Australia is wondering whether it was worth it (but obviously not you).

  • gung-ho on January 9, 2008, 18:51 GMT

    I was just waiting for an article like this show up - because I know that someone out there would try and hog the limelight with an article like this.

    An article like this which tries to drive in some sense of 'social sanity' and thereby 'educating' the masses and all that, should not be in a cricket website in the first place. The reason it should not be is because the target audience of this website is entirely different from those the author is 'trying' to reach.

    Last but not least, I think Peter Roebuck was pretty apt in his summary of how the Australia team conducts itself on the cricket field. He was right in pointing out that as the captain of the Australian team, Ponting must resign. I am none to try and understand how a nation should behave. What affects the author may not really that much of a big deal for me and others and vice versa...

    I would just skip this article and tag it as misplaced - or maybe you could put this up in one of those Australian newspapers.

  • lax261 on January 9, 2008, 18:49 GMT

    This is a good article. I hope the media stops making such a big deal of this and focuses a little more on the cricket. Please see a related series of articles by my former colleague at the Indian Statistical Institute at: http://djardine.wordpress.com/.

  • fnky on January 9, 2008, 18:40 GMT

    I agree with Mr. Menon's article except one part. Borrowing from his own words "Let's get a sense of balance and not mix apples and oranges" it is ridiculous to equate a LBW decision to a catch (especially one which was so blatantly wrong). To start harping on LBW decisions would be to open up a can of worms.

  • Kamakshi on January 9, 2008, 18:17 GMT

    Some fair comments, especially the ones regarding the Indian batting display in the second innings where save two terrible decisions, the rest capitulated hopelessly on a fairly manageable wicket. However, i disagree that Benson was justified in asking Ponting regardless of whether some ambiguous "agreement" was made between the captains. I would have had some sympathy if he had even asked Clarke (the man actually in question) if he had taken the catch. However, standing at 1st slip Ponting would not have had the most panoramic of views and since he was in no way involved with the catch, Benson had no reason to go upto him and ask his opinion. Sorry, that is not on. You have a third umpire, who is hopefully neutral and has a lot of technology on his hands and if it proves the catch to be dodgy then is a lot more reliable then any "assurance" given by the captain of Australia who in no way was involved with the catch. As for the Tendulkar decision- LBWs are far more tough to judge.

  • Intellectual on January 9, 2008, 18:16 GMT

    There is no doubt in the fact that india were very unlucky to get such decisions but just because they are on the recieving end, india has made a big fuss about every incident in the match and have completely forgotten about the way they were outclassed by the aussies on the final day. Not even a single indian batsmen looked in control and even if those decisions had not gone in favour of the australians, indian batsmen would have eventually got out. Kumble looked more upset because in the same sort of situation india could not win against pakistan. India had a very good chance to draw the match inspite of the decisions but clarke pulled out a thriller which was too much for the indians. Team india was brought back in to the real world for the first time after worldcup. They won against a weak pakistan side and with the help of media they started to believe that dey were invincibles with ppl like yuvraj and dhoni in the team, but such a demoralising loss was too much to digest.

  • BRMaroo on January 9, 2008, 18:15 GMT

    This is the day & age when the voice of the people is encouraged. Expressions are encouraged. So do not expect balance. More so from a nation known for having no sense of proportions.

    Also, when you cannot get balance from players & administrators who are supposedly more educated, travelled & hopefully savvy - why would you expect balance from someone without these smoother edges.

    When media (including your article) does not want to let this issue rest -why would you expect people to not express their minds freely.

    You & I may not agree with these expressions or the forms that they take. Those opinions and their vehicles may embarass us, but we cannot & should not wish them away. Its one of the privileges we enjoy in an open society. They will stand us well in other times.

  • RavindraV on January 9, 2008, 17:47 GMT

    Let me get this straight-you are saying that: (a) The umpires screwed up, royally too (not once, mind you, or twice or thrice, but time and again, and one has screwed up against India multiple times for more than a decade). (b) The Australians were clearly lacking in sportsmanship and reneged on a pre-series agreement claiming not one but two grounded catches (forget about Dravid's dismissal, I will put that one down to gross incompetence). (c) Not only was the pot calling the kettle black (Yeah, yeah, your saintly Australians provoke all sledging matches in between cricket matches), the match referee simply based on 'his experience with racism' convicted a player without proof (mind you I agree with penalties for wrongful actions including racist remarks, but the last time I looked the justice system was different unless you live on a different planet). You still think that the Indians should have meekly stood by doing nothing? Sorry, but you reek of being an Aussie-apologist.

  • jugadu on January 9, 2008, 17:26 GMT

    Apparently some sections of the 'pseudo-neutral' media want India to behave like 'good loosers', not want a win as much as Australians do. Apparently, 'winning at all costs' should only be an Australian trait. Others should just write some mildly protesting (but politically correct!) articles and move over to the next game. In other words, a brave India that tries hard to take 13 wickets in the first innings, gets 8 wickets to bat with and then tries to take 13 Australian wickets and then tries to draw the game with 8 wickets in its hand. This is why fair play doesnt happen in cricket - the victim is made to look like a murderer just to 'even things out'. The bottomline is that the Australia werent the deserved winners in the Sydney test. Give me one reason why the series should be 2-0 at this stage. One could argue that Australia's batting in the first innings was as bad as India's second innings, if it werent for Bucknor. As an Indian, I would want india to fight for JUSTICE.

  • propeller on January 9, 2008, 17:20 GMT

    Thanks for having the courage speak your mind and clarity to see through the mess.

    First of all, Peter Roebuck. What is up with this man? What has Harbhajan's task of supporting nine people and him being a Sikh warrior got to do anything with what he said on the field?

    Second, Sunil Gavaskar. Sir, with all due respect, singling out Ponting does not make sense. Sure it is not refined but it is not a crime to stay at the crease. Secondly, if Ricky Ponting's attitude was this irksome, why bring it up only when things are not going in our favor? It was not clear who Gavaskar was angry at Ricky or the Umpire. Not cool at all.

    Finally, BCCI. This is a group of individuals "installed" by higher powers purely because of the money involved. Plain and simple. The media reaction, the frenzy, the jingoism, you know, we probably stopped evolving sometime in the recent past.

    I am sorry to say but more than the cricket team, the nation and the Indian media acts like a bunch of sore losers.

  • lokesh12 on January 9, 2008, 17:17 GMT

    1. Sydney test was made exciting artificially. Had Symonds been given out or walked at 30, the entire match could have been very different. 2. Here the decision was influenced by umpires unintentionally.What was the difference between this match and a fixed match, apart from the intent? 3. If Aussies are fair, then they should not crib now when there every player will be reported for racism. 4. i have read so many reports saying that bucknor was sacked because of india's money power. Let us imagine that this had happened to zimbabwe, are all the writers saying that bucknor should have then officiated in next match?

  • BapiDas on January 9, 2008, 17:16 GMT

    Mr. Menon has presented an apparently well balanced viewpoint. However, certain aspects of the Sydney Test will never go away. Sticking only to the 'cricketing' incidents, I can not recall any other Test match where both the on-field umpires as well as the third umpire kept on committing errors and most of them went against the Indians? If this is just a coincidence, then it must have been a unique situation. Aussies play hard we all know. But fair? Now, that has become questionable after this particular game. Leaving aside the appeals for possibly 'grounded' catches OR 'non catches' (for lack of a more appropriate term the case being Rahul Dravid's dismissal in the second innings)the Aussies even did not shake hands with the opposition after the game! That they were boorish arrogant and totally uncivil has been proved beyond doubt. Yes, the media made merry by whipping up the discontent and dismay, but they had the fuel to do so, not so? And who supplied that? The Aussies, of course!

  • serendipiti on January 9, 2008, 17:16 GMT

    Nice article but Mr Menon it's one thing making mistakes as to LBW decisions and quite another to fail(or rather REFUSE) to spot edges whose sound we're told was heard by everybody-not once but twice.The benefit of doubt should and must go to the batsman(fair in a LBW case)but to give benefit of doubt where none exists is plain cheating and if not cheating then plain incompetence for which umpires HAVE to pay.After all they are not doing an honorary job...they are paid pretty well so if they don't do the job properly they must pay.And in all this melee nobody is talking about the incompetence of the Aussie third umpire...GOD does he have something more important to do than do his job of watching the monitor!To quote the oft quoted line: The first time its accident,second time its coincidence but a third time is definitely conspiracy

  • ToCricket on January 9, 2008, 17:12 GMT

    India is a shining example of anti-racism

    In 1974 India honorably chose to forfeit its Davis Cup Final match against South Africa because of that country's policy of aprtheid.

    That was the singular instance in tennis history when a Davis Cup final was won by forfeit.

    That was the only time when South Africa entered the finals. And that also was the only time when India entered the finals.

    So, to the members of the countries in question here that wonder why Indians are agitated and hurt, India has had a very long and exemplary history of taking a leading stand against racism. In fact, none of the Indian cricketers ever toured South Africa. The same cannot be said of Australia, or England, or, surprise, surprise, even the West Indies.

    What happened in SCG wasn't poor umpiring - it was a naked exhibition of biased umpiring with one team reneging on its word of honor and agreement. And that was on display and will be recorded in the archives for posterity.

  • couchpotato on January 9, 2008, 17:06 GMT

    suresh Menon is bang on here. It is sickening to see BCCI honchos and journalists who don't know the C of cricket whipping up nationalists sentiments. India was robbed of a victory without doubt but there was no need for the kind of frenzy that has gripped the Indian media. For once I found my self agreeing with Bishen Bedi on a TV show who was pilloried by Farooq Abdulla and an overzealous Arnab Goswami for suggesting that everyone was overreacting

  • Grudge.Kid on January 9, 2008, 17:01 GMT

    Well, Lets see. No one is complaining about LBW's to start with. It is very tricky and delicate decision. But a caught behind and two clear stumping appeals? Granted the Indian Media and commentators are comparing apples to oranges, but so are you Mister. I agree with you that a few bad decisions against India shouldn't have let the whole team down leading them lose the match, but again all those bad decisions and ugly claims by Ponting and Co. were against the set and match saving batsmen. But I do agree with you that the Indian Media shouldn't have dragged out Bhajji's family. True no one's talking about Yuvi and Jaffer & to some extent Dhoni's failure. I think Yuvi and Jaffer should be dropped in Perth and Sehwag and Kartik should be given a chance.

  • shanran on January 9, 2008, 17:01 GMT

    Dear Mr.Menon , for an Indian you are indeed forgetting how the Indian mass is prone to react. It is the same mass which burned effigies of Sourav Ganguly in Kolkata!! Indians are fanatic about cricket, and the media use this to their advantage. Yes, the team played badly and even with the bad decisions, there is no excuse for losing three wickets in five balls. Those decisions cannot be faulted. However, your article also seems to be condoning the Australians for their unsporting behaviour and this is very disappointing.

  • ashwinkrish on January 9, 2008, 16:55 GMT

    No umpire in this world gets all the LBW decisions correctly.Leave those LBW's.One that Benson gave to ponting was wrong.Many LBW's was turned down for Aussies than for Indians.It is the decision like the caught behind we are talking about.How that can be given not out.If sachin was out SHOULDER BEFORE WICKET against mcgrath(given by honorable Bucknor)in a match then Symonds was plum in that hatrick ball bowled by Kumble.LBW is not an issue at all.How you can be sure with LBW's.There is absolutely no proof for those LBW's.What about third umpire giving Symonds not out.Are you kidding.How that can be given not out.BCCI and Indian media has all its rights to make this issue a big one and i'm glad that they had done so.You aren't any God in cricket.If you can offer an opinion and then Harbhajan's mother has every right to offer an opinion.

  • nilotpal_c on January 9, 2008, 16:50 GMT

    Nice one eyed article. First, about "Indian Nationhood , manhood" etc. I would just say one thing, I am proud to be an Indian, and would not like it if any Indian, any, were wrongfully accused. However, if rightly accused, I would just say to the individual concerned, get out of the team, you do not deserve to play. How do I make this decision to myself,? How do I know whether I should be enraged or ashamed? No explanation about the ban has been given, except that "one party was telling the truth", thereby implying that the Indians were liars. How do we know? I will tell you this, the best way to shut the jingoistic media up would be to publish the findings of Proctor. So, where are they? Why do you not ask THIS question? Bringing in Sachins LBW just shows your bias once again: shall we count the LBW shouts which went against Indians, shall we? And LBWs are judgment calls, what about caughts? and stumpings? By hiding them, you have published a very dishonest piece of work.

  • lakshminarayana.pendyala on January 9, 2008, 16:48 GMT

    Mr.Menon, lot of people responded to your article saying that BCCI is creating all this mess, and "integrity" and "nation's honour" is bull shit. You have goofed up on one issue and I just want to ask you few questions. 1)Who started sledging in cricket? 2)Why did they started? 2)What are the benefits they get by sleding? Please answer these question to your self. I agree Australia is a better team when compared to India. That doesn't mean that India shouldn't win on them. Australians don't like if some body started defending them. Its proven in the past and it is proven again in the Sydney Test. When we are just trailing by 12 runs they started sleding towards Bhajji. Bhajji replied back. There are visuals showing that Symonds started all this. Since they can't take some body retating to them, they started crying foul. All the world knows how fair Australians play! Please dont write by just goofing up the things!

  • Mahesh28582 on January 9, 2008, 16:44 GMT

    A very good article in the end. But few things i need to point it out as other readers has done. Imagine the same has happened to Australia and they have lost the match because of bad decisions won't there would be wide spread protest in Australia now. One thing that is true that ICC is not consistent that long back Rashid Latif was banned for 5 ODI's for claiming a wrong catch. Now shouldn't Clarke and Ponting also deserve the same punishment. Mike procter was the match refree in both incidents. If ICC is not going to look into those issues, the faith of people on ICC would go of. I believe ICC is run by CA and not by BCCI. A match lost is lost and that cannot be given back by removing Steve bucknor. Umpires cannot have bad day for 5 days on a trot.

  • vedirs on January 9, 2008, 16:43 GMT

    Bad decisions always are part of the game. But sydney was bit different when one team gets overwhelmingly favorable decisions especially in an important test. I recently read what Bob Woolmer and Chandrapaul had to say about the decisions favoring one team over other than theother. They might be right. About tendulkar being out com'on give some better example than that. How about Hussey Lbw in the same test. Symonds was as out as RP singh in second innings. I just go by number and I think in this test numbers of decisions favoring one team was more than acceptable. About dhoni claiming a catch after grounded; umpires did good job of calling peterson back. So why not this time. What is even more disheartening to see is if Benson was right in asking Ponting then Australians were wrong in claiming a catch which they never took cleanly especially when you have an agreement that captains word should be taken. Australians lost their credibility then and there.

  • Whosane on January 9, 2008, 16:37 GMT

    A good article Suresh. I agree that Indian media specially the news channels go overboard all the time. They are all about making money but hey! this is not about the media. This is also not about umpiring errors because its just natural for human to err. This is a warranted reaction from players 1.who were at the receiving end of some ridiculous umpiring. 2.who were live witness' to a game being won by unfair means(ganguly's dismissal was a joke). 3.who were made to feel like they're a bunch of liars(there was absolutely no evidence against harbajhan). It is a fact that any team playing Australia has to first face them off the field (its termed as psychological tactics by oz's) but its a cricketing crime when an opposing player/team does the same(sreeshant being a fine eg). Lets not burn effigy's or interview harbajhan's mom, but please let the Australians know that they have forgotten how to play cricket in it's right spirit. As an Indian i loved the way our player's & BCCI reacted.

  • pspspspspsps on January 9, 2008, 16:27 GMT

    Excellent article. After all this is just a game of cricket. What I found most disgusting about the whole incident was seeing Navjot Singh Sidhu on NDTV (who should be censured for allowing him on the show). Firstly he said that Bucknor would be killed within one hour if he came to India. This is thoroughly irresponsible. Secondly he mentioned injustice but as I understand it he beat a 65 year old man to death (later in hopsital) when he was 25 but never went to prison. Finally he said that Bucknor, at 61, was too old to umpire a cricket match - but at 61 he is young enough for Sidhu to beat up.

    India is such a passionate nation that we do not need such a man to be on TV encouraging violence against a humble, honest 61 year old man who is clearly trying, but is past his best.

  • Indiannns on January 9, 2008, 16:24 GMT

    Good article.Only part true.Sachin may have been LBW.But lbw's are always like that(relative).But when good batsmen like Ponting,Hussey & symmonds get clear thick edges and the best umpire keep saying they didn't nick it,something smells.He doesn't deserve to be in the elite panel .Agree we all are humans and make mistakes.But we should make an honest effort not to make them again and again.Aussies are a great team. It is not everyday Indian team plays well against Aussies.2nd test was one of those.Indians were denied of a well deserved win.About racial slurs.Ban all sort of abuses on field.If it is not possible, turn a blind eye to every verbal attacks.Take action only if a palyer is attacked physically.'Bastard' may be an affectionate word for Aussies.If so let them restrict it within their team.Don't call visiting teams bastards.Suresh how will you feel,if you were called a Bastard?Is it alright to call someone a Black Monkey,Black Cu**,to ask about the taste of Lara's di**.

  • ristmi on January 9, 2008, 16:23 GMT

    This article is far too reasonable for my liking. I'm going elsewhere to find a more hastily written and less thought-out opinion that I can deliberately mis-interpret, post provocative comments, and then be labeled racist and arrogant.

  • Josab on January 9, 2008, 16:16 GMT

    Congratulations for a different view from an Indian! I like most the heading of the article: "Some balance, please." This can be applied to anything, not only to the reactions and over reactions. There should be some balance in match referees punishing the white and coloured. There should be some balance in making wrong decisions, out of 11 wrong decisions 8 to one team and 3 to another do not give an idea regarding balance. All these people who are reacting pro and against to what happened in Sydney should view the video of all these wrong decisions and should make comments accordingly. Even previous series can be examined. There should be some balance in doing the act of Day light robbery like in Sydney. Otherwise, Australian team will go from 16 to 32 times consecutively undefeated and all will ga ga over it. The loser will always be cricket.If there is no balance in certain things many will make the ugliest gesture of raising the finger as Ponting did to give Ganguly out.

  • sriramrajan on January 9, 2008, 16:16 GMT

    Finally some refreshing journalism and proper dissection of the events. Some of stuff thrown on TV channels is pathetic and disgraceful at best. They talk about national honour but irrespective of what happened in Sydney I felt ashamed seeing the crap they dished on Indian media. I have seen worser test matches in India with some unbalanced decisions in favour of the home team. Also a simple question we can ask Australia is what happened to their play tough on the field and forget everything afterwards Perth is only going to add to India' wounds. Maybe we can blame Billy Bowden for it.

  • drneilmukherjee on January 9, 2008, 16:08 GMT

    Heres a thought: If other cricketing nations have a problem with rich BCCI arm-twisting the ICC then maybe they should popularize the game enough in their own nations to generate enough cash. If other nations have the money then they can think of curbing BCCI's arm-twisting. WICB is now complaining about dropping Bucknor. Is it not fact now that cricket survives in West Indies inspite and not because of WICB?

  • wiserao on January 9, 2008, 16:03 GMT

    Sounding reasonable is not he same as being reasonable, Mr. Menon! BCCI is reasonable in their stance. Incompetent, and unrepentant (unlike Taufel in Nottingham last year), umpiring makes players lose confidence in the game. That needs to be rectified. Bucknor could have fessed up and stood down, he did not and so the action. Bhajji's ban ignores his plea of innocence. Procter must offer better evidence than what we have heard. Else, make a statement that he thinks one thing, but the lack of evidence prevents him from acting. Now, that would be balance. Aussies are praised extravagantly by the media for their cricketing talents and accomplishments and condemned thoroughly for their language, abuse, behavior, attitude and lack of sporting spirit. So be it. That is balance. They are big boys and need to face it and do what they think is best. You, on the other hand have engaged in relativism without taking a stand on issues. Not balance, jsut muddled thinking, sorry.

  • howsthat on January 9, 2008, 15:55 GMT

    I like this article. Not because its saying a whole true story. But it has a kind of different view from an indian. Alright! Indians are not innoccents. Who claim so? Kumble, as I remember, mentioned once that a couple of wrong decesions are understandable. As you mentioned, a team of average 65 test experience understand that. But when it is more than 10 and 50% of those decesions were changing course of the match and series too then you bound to see over the top reactions. Indians so far, used to gulp the burish behavior of their opponents and even ICC's verdicts. But thats history. If Indians want to see their team fighting on the field they also love to see their team fighting off the field. And Indians will support every bit of it. Indians have their ways to express that support. And nothing wrong in that. At least thats better than cheating in front of crowd and then claiming it was in spirit of game.

  • jayanthtn on January 9, 2008, 15:52 GMT

    Thank God! Finally a voice of reason! I am still shocked that the ICC gave in to India's request (read demand). I admit that umpires too must be held accountable somewhere, but, this is taking things too far. And, as you have rightly pointed out, India's inability to firstly wipe out the tail and secondly playing out a mere two sessions have not even been mentioned. You would think that pros like Sachin and Kumble will come out and admit that they played poor cricket. But, they seem to relish the fact that their poor performance has not been brought up.

  • Boorugu on January 9, 2008, 15:49 GMT

    Mr Menon, Your article is completely biased towards Australia. As a senior critic you should be able to know the difference between edges and LBW decisions. No one talked about the LBW decision that went against India when hayden, hussey and Symonds(plumb when kumble was on hatrick) where out plumb. Good that you can make some people read this article by being differnt but it really doesn't make any horse sense.

  • DC87 on January 9, 2008, 15:49 GMT

    From the article I read above, I understand , you , Mr. menon with your views are headed south while the whole nation is headed north. I agree that the 'one liners' of the media and the 'smart catch-phrases' of navjot sidhu have gone a bit too far. But that doesn't mean that it can cover up for what the whole world saw during the sydney test , And with expectations from the team at its peak, Its only natural for us to come down so strongly against something that kept our team on the losing side inspite of bundling out the top six batsmen (7 if not for Mr. slow death) of a world-class team like a bunch of school kids. Agreed that the team couldn't even stand for 70 overs in the 2nd innings, but that was only after over half a dozen things went against them. Its as morale breaking as fighting a case against a criminal in the court of law, only to see, that the judge is his godfather. And u talk about balance?

  • kaiser123 on January 9, 2008, 15:46 GMT

    Suresh Menon is laying himself bare to the charge of treason. How dare he question "our" adulating media and fans for giving vent to their spleen? He simply forgets that we are a sport loving nation - only as long as it suits us, mind you. Many moons ago, cricket lovers will remember how the "most knowledgeable Mumbai" crowd went berserk and ransacked the stands when Shambu Pan gave Venkat out, caught behind. And this when technology was not even conceived! Not to mention the reactions of the other sport loving city (gentlemen from Calc/Kolkata) on India's performance in the semi-final against Sri lanka and a little later in the match against Pakistan when Sachin was run out. Little was said about AV Jayaprakash's umpiring in the test which gave Kumble 10 wickets. We will assess fairness only if the results suit us. The next move would be to banish Australia from the cricketing arena. Let mediocrity rule the roost. My country, right or wrong seems to be the byword.

  • Ramz009 on January 9, 2008, 15:42 GMT

    Firstly, Harbhajan represents India and castigating him as a racist is a slur on India. Hence the proceedings of the Match Refree has to be published for public information. The journalists, custodian of cricketing culture et al were not able to do this so far and hence why complain about the reactions in India? Secondly there were two parties involved. If there was punishment for Harbhajan there must be punishement for Symonds also since he started the flare up. Thirdly I remember sometime back Rashid Latif was banned for some matches for claiming a catch he grassed. Why no such action was taken against several of those who did the same thing in Sydney. Probably because those were not from sub-continent. Fourthly, statistics after statistics have been produced as to how the teams/players have performed. But I have not seen any such data made for wrong decisions by umpires for public consumption. Lastly, I fail to understand why wrong decisions are always written as doubtful?

  • THEEXPERT on January 9, 2008, 15:41 GMT

    Very well written article. You express wonderfully what I and other rational, logical and balanced minds must have felt about this furore. I am absolutely sick of the rhetoric and sensationalism that the Indian electronic media has been dishing out over the last few days and the worst part is that former cricketers particularly Navjot Singh Sidhu are adding fuel to the fire. Really, we need to mature and look at situations in a pragmatic, civillized and rational manner rather than indulging in jingoism and pseudo nationalism. Cricket is a game played on the ground, whether you win or lose you do it out there. The moment we start talking of losing or winning beyond those boundaries- Its Just Not Cricket but sadly that's exactly what we seem to have forgotten. Some TV channels said Indian Cricket Fans want the team to return home, Can somebody tell me what cricket fan would want no cricket to happen? If they do, they just aren't cricket fans!! Isn't it?

  • Junoonis on January 9, 2008, 15:41 GMT

    At last one article which make lot more sense than any other article thats been going around. I agree with your points, I think issue may have not been that big if media especially Indian media didn't make a huge deal out of it. It would've resolve in better manner if things stays between the boards or players. I think indians are digging hole here for themselves, what if they lose in perth? then what excuse they have?. All this talking and banning umpires is getting their attention off the real reason they are in Australia which is to play hard cricket. They should use their remaining (if any)energy for next 2 tests and give better fight.

  • jeev on January 9, 2008, 15:41 GMT

    Mr. Menon, tell me how you feel if after all your effort, you watch yourself loose in the game because of constant bad decision and on top of that pre-planned effort to drag a player in to controversy. Look at the video and tell me if Harbhajan went to Symonds or Symonds went to him. One doesn't had to be rocket scientist to understand what was going on and why every (except one) umpire blunder went against India. If Hyden's word can be taken about the abuse, if Ponting words can be taken for catch, what is wrong with Sachin's word. Cricket world will tell you if Sachin is more trusted or Ponting. This is high time for Australia to sit and decide where to go. Should they continue such on field behavior and continue to be in clash with other countries or play fair game. West Indies were dominate world cricket too, but they were respected for their on field behavior.

  • vijaytriambak on January 9, 2008, 15:31 GMT

    I think Menons of this world must stop writing about Cricket. They better hold Red flag near some CITU or some AIUT!

    Australian media need not worry about Tendulkar out because eventually they won the game with the help of wrong Umpiring decisions favoring ONLY their team!

    It is not about one decision but the way Umpiring was done against India. Every single oppurtunity was given to Australians inthe form of unfair advantage over India. Even if Captains talked to each other on decisions that does not obsolve Umpires to step in. If Kumble and Ponting agreed that every Batsman will play two times every innings, cannot be made as a Cricketing rule.

    Australians not only took the Umpiring help but also involved in unsporting acts much larger than slow over rate or having two gloves etc...

    They can win 4-0 but still end up showing their angry face infront of the camera while Indians will be behave cool because they dont carry any guilt!

  • vinaytodi on January 9, 2008, 15:10 GMT

    A perfect article. Epecially the comparision apples and oragnes. I am a die-hard Indian fan but the way Indian teams find excuses after being unsuccesful is baffling. If people remember in the last seris in Australia Billy Bowden was the umpire who officiated in last test which India supposedly drew coz of the umpiring. And he is again there. And no one is saying a word right now. Just after he does something big his name will be comapred to Bucknor. AND THE BIGGEST GAINER IS MEDIA AND ADVERTISERS AND ESPN START AS THEY GET THE BUCKS AND OTHERS LOSE THERE BLOOD. What i mean is there should have been a proper way to address your issues. Not go berserk. Also blaming BCCI is also wrong. they are just a catalyst in the hands of INDIAN MEDIA.. just imagine a mom giving an interview about racisicm. DID anyone ask her what racism is? i wonder she knew abt it? No offense met tough.. we as indians make decisions from heart and not head.. hope india does well now atleast..

  • uktvla on January 9, 2008, 15:09 GMT

    Mr. Menon, The real question which all the journalist including you should be asking is whether cricket deserves the attention which is currently being given in Indian media. When we have news channels discussing cricket 24 hours a day, 7 days a week all through the year, all this is not surprising.

  • Vkarthik on January 9, 2008, 15:09 GMT

    Mr.Suresh Menon,

    One humble request. Just because Indian media, public go overboard don't criticize Indian players. They were they one who were ripped apart by umpires and opposition captain. Sure they couldn't survive on a 5th day pitch against 2 umpires and 11 players. Australia also choked. But they had a helping hand from umpires. But India did not have. Indian players had to take 25 wickets. So give credit to Indians instead of finger pointing from your arm chair. You go and play on the field where you get 10 decisions going against you. You will feel what it is. It is easy to say "be balanced". You criticize media and public for over-reaction. It is distasteful to question the team's performance based on few failures considering the fact India is missing couple of key players through injury. I strongly object it. If anytime Indian team needs back up this is the time.

  • pramodkumar on January 9, 2008, 15:08 GMT

    Mr Menon, the reaction of Indian media might been over the top but your article is below par.you are mixing apples and oranges. Bad umpiring, harbhajan case, indias performance, australia's integrity and of course media reaction are different subjects which should not be mixed with each other and make it more complicated then it already is. I think india did the right thing in protesting against the umpiring, As you mentioned about symonds runs are same as sachins runs who was not given out, I have to say that is rubbish, clear nick to wicket keeper, stumping which cannot be spotted by the third umpire cannot be compared with a marginal decision of an lbw. And yes captains signed a pact about low catchs, that is after if the umpires cannot decide.It is not about 2 or 3 descions going against one team, it is about manner it happened and what circumstances which changed the whole course of the game. I guess it is better for you to write an article with facts then your own opinions

  • keralaputhran on January 9, 2008, 15:05 GMT

    At last a sane, mature comment from a cricket writer. Was thinking what all TV channels will come up with next if and when we lose in Perth when I stumbled onto this write-up. This whole thing has been reduced to a situation where you start wondering whether ICC has any authority at all in running the game. This is not to say that umpiring errors were not there in Sydney and not to accept that Proctor's charge against Harbhajan will stand legal scrutiny. But to threaten to pull out if Harbhajan is not reinstated before Perth shows that this Indian team, which couldn't last two sessions, will do anything to whip up passions back home. The media, especially electronic, has been appalling in their approach with one channel having placard-holding audience facing Kapil Dev and others. Menon has covered every aspect that one can think of in ripping apart the Indian media. Hats off to him!

  • dmudge on January 9, 2008, 15:04 GMT

    An excellent point you make: this is really several issues mixed up together. 1) the aussies poor sportsmanship; 2) comments from Harbhajan & Hogg and the resulting charges; 3) India's poor performance; 4) Poor umpiring decisions; 5) the BCCI's threats to abandon the tour if some of the above issues are not resolved exactly how they want them.

    By far the worst actions out of these are the actions of the BCCI. They threaten to stop playing if Bucknor is not removed or if Harbhajan is not cleared of his charge. How can world cricket run at all if countries / teams start deciding they will only accept the umpires/referees/ICCs decisions when it suits them?

    Competitions only work if the participants play by the rules. By all means complain about the umpires, tell the world Harbhajan is innocent, request Bucknor to be removed, etc. But the threats have to stop. Pakistan started it with their reaction to Daryl Hair's interpretation of a rule. Now India use the same tactic. Who's next?

  • Tony_Vinayak on January 9, 2008, 15:03 GMT

    Had India not lost the game, I suspect the vitriolic outpouring of rhetoric that we are currently seeing would have been lot less. After all, Australia also got their share of dubious umpiring decisions. Us Indians are an emotional lot, and it doesn't take much for the mob fury to be invoked. To my mind, the really fateful moment in India's innings was Dravid's dismissal. But then, India did lose ALL the wickets in three sessions, and much of that credit really goes to the Aussies.

    The fact is that the India XI is not that genteel bunch of the past any more. If Australians can play hard, so can the Indians. If Australians can sledge, so can the Indians. Instead of snowballing, sledging should be nipped. Australians championed it, and most of their opponents have been at the receiving end over the years. It is now time for the ICC code of conduct to rule it outrightly as unfair play, and get on with the real game.

  • SR-FR on January 9, 2008, 15:01 GMT

    Wow. 2 pleasant surprises on a balmy wednesday morning. 1) 2 articles which finally provide some perspective and balance in the middle of this chest beating (Suresh Menon and Dileep Premachandran). The second and and even more surprising fact is that there are so many comments praising this article. I was expecting the author and all his kith and kin to be pelted with vile abuses. Very refreshing to see that atleast a few of my fellow countrymen are above that and are able to see the big picture. More power to your ilk Suresh. I have posted messages similar to the ones listed above regarding the hypocrisy of the Indian media regarding umpires and players. The silence is deafening when an Indian batsman refuses to walk (M.Kartik in the mumbai odi) or when the indian batsman are given lives by the umprires (sreesanth at lords, tendulkar in the chandigarh odi) but play the bias card all to often when the shoe is on the other foot.

  • NarayananSubramaniam on January 9, 2008, 14:59 GMT

    The over-the-top media frenzy was visible after the Twenty20 victory. The terms "news channel" seems a thing of the past, nobody wants to report facts, everyone wants to express their opinions and versions of the facts. This attitude of the media is affecting all coverage, cricket being the most in your face, and nothing is remotely done about it.

    With respect to the Harbhajan issue, the appeal is going to be handled by a NZ judge. What sense does it make to replace Procter, an ex-player turned match referee, with a person with extensive knowledge of laws and ability to interpret. If the job of the match referee involves such ability, the ICC better change all match referees and appoint judges instead. Atleast we will have the "right" verdict without going in to an appeal situation.

  • wmathew on January 9, 2008, 14:57 GMT

    Well Bucknor may be past his prime or not he could have referred the close decisions to the third umpire for advice as he did on the 5th day . And to boot all his decisions affected India. Ponting was already out so a bad decision later just did not rectify that previous error. This same Ponting had said during the 20/20 finals that the batsmen who nicked it should have walked when one of the indian batsman nicked and did not walk but now we know the "HYPOCRITE" ponting. Please do not promote him to advice or be a role model for our kids. We have seen enough of the so called fair Australians in just one test, we have no problem in playing hard and fair cricket and sledging has to be banned in all forms by players against players in the middle. Atleast somebody had the bone to stand up to the nonsence. Cricket is much more than individuals but you don't break the gentlemanly rules because this game has so many ways that an umpire can be beat.

  • TonyP on January 9, 2008, 14:53 GMT

    The Australian team were boorish, the umpires were terrible, the Indian team & their fans must feel aggrieved. And they have my sympathies but it feels like the resentment over all these grievances is being carried beyond all sense of proportion. It's nice to see a well written article that attempts to restore some balance & context to the situation. I think everyone commiserates with India but this shouldn't extaend as far as taking the game hostage or using the ICC as an agency for intimidating match officials.

  • cricketinginspain on January 9, 2008, 14:40 GMT

    I have to say it is a brilliant piece of writing advocating neutrality,calmness and sanity.But till when we have to be sane,neutral and calm.If i speak proverbially gandhi and christ both advocated giving the right cheek when slapped on left but till when we should continue to be pacified. The truth is Australia is a world champion in test,they play very good cricket but they can see resurgence of india,only team apart from south africa to really stretch them and win over them. 20 20 world cup defeat is still dug deep in there memories,These memories resurface when india outdo or challenge them which happened in sydney. Thus they overdo things and any logical person whether or not he is indian team supporter will agree. I want to take this article with a pinch of salt.On one hand any improvement is only possible to look for errors in our own selves,On the other we have to raise voice against wrongdoings.It is fairly easy to say 2 or 3 wrong decision do not matter but difficult playing.

  • Sandt on January 9, 2008, 14:40 GMT

    Mr Suresh yours was a good article.But there is some facts which you are ignoring.you have been critisising indian media about one sided.but can you tell me instead of Harbhajan if it was an australian/englishmen facing these ban for racism will the western media support them or us.They will create hell and will make sure that the ban or punishment will be levied.Take instance of matchfixing,why only indians and pakistanis are banned (i am not forgeting Hansie Cronje).The same time Mark Waugh and Shane Warne are also been in the news for same.But western and Aussies media manipulated these news and helped them to escape from punishment.Here if someone is blaming an indian for racism that too without much evidence we have to just shup our mouth and take the punishment.please tell me wheteher we dont have any pride.Please as an indian please support our people and nation.

  • lovercric on January 9, 2008, 14:39 GMT

    Very good article. Being an Indian, I think that Indian supporters should always take a step back and look at things from a different perspective. I watched this whole test match and I really thought that poor umpiring decision's led to India's defeat. I also admire Australian cricketers for the professionalism they show in the field, but in this test match, I thought that they were a little overboard in appealing just to get to the record of winning 16 matches consecutively. I strongly think technology should be used to help umpiring decisions (if made wrong). If that had happened here, this test match would have been a good advertisement for test cricket. Apart from all these things, if Harbhajan had made those remarks, he should be punished. And the same should be applied to all cricketers including Australians in spite of them claiming that they play their cricket fair and hard and its their nature to sledge.

  • Xasa on January 9, 2008, 14:29 GMT

    An excellent and well written article. At last some one talking sense. The sad part of it is the media in India has stooped so low that it is looking to sensionalize anything and everything thereby inflaming public sympathy most whom do not even know what has happnned. Politicians are looking to get some milage out of anything that has large public reaction. Hear most of the (non political) experts in the India news, they all felt the way the whole thing is played out is all wrong.

    The humiliation to Steve Bucknor is something no human being should be subjected to. I wonder what the Indian board was doing when Steve was appointed for the series.

    I would really like to see what hapens if all umpires boycott international matches till Steve Bucknor is reinstated. The no. of intenational umpire is very small indeed.

    After all these if India get routed out in the next two matches which is what Australia is aiming at they would look laughable.

  • SonOfSocrates on January 9, 2008, 14:16 GMT

    Good points, no one team deserves sainthood while the other is consigned to hell. The umpiring was appalling, but the Indian team showed poor grace in defeat nevertheless, and folded when they should have stood tall. All this poor 'sportsmanship' rubbish .. correctly stated, just a smokescreen to hide inadequacies and no doubt keep the BCCI from being burnt (in effigy at least!)... and threatening to boycott the tour? Churlish behaviour. And the Aussies? they should have copped whatever bhajie (?) dished out, and perhaps come up with a better reply - ON THE FIELD. He is feisty and likes a word, it seems, so it would have been tit for tat there. Dobbing to the schoolmasters was very disappointing (whatever the match ref had instructed regarding racist comments. Indians have been bad losers (when they should have drawn the game) and Aussies have been naughty as well. 5 centuries have been forgotten about..Lets get on with cricket.

  • manishv on January 9, 2008, 14:12 GMT

    Nice Article but I have different view on few points. India does not problem with Steve Bucknor, instead he has crossed his prime. He should not be allowed to umpire even in Bangladesh and Zimbabwe matches. It also requires now that ICC has more that 8 umpires. International teams now play so many games and it's foolish for ICC not to see that. These tired umpires are bound to make mistakes.

    Also, The role of third umpire is under utilized. Why is that guy sitting over there, making just 3-4 calls in 5 days? Why not involve him a little more, why not give him more powers to review some calls automatically to make things correct. Yes, It would take precious time, but if that's the cost to make things correct, it's worth it.

    When we talk about Harbhajan's case, There is not enough evidence that he really did say "Monkey" word. Would you convict a guy just because the other party is just blaming without any evidence. Symonds could have misheard. It's not related to National Honour becau

  • indraraj_r on January 9, 2008, 14:11 GMT

    I strongly disagree with yours view.This is totally not about Sub-continental Dominance at all.This should be taken in the right sense as "Justice for All".How can a Man of Bucknor's Stature err consistently towards one Team.If he would have given atleast 30% in favour of the Indian Team then with no doubt this Match would 've been won by the Indians.Would u disagree on that???Also,you 've to take the Aussie Team's reaction on the field esp. for Arrogance,False Appealing,Over Reaction,Sledging,etc into account.See the attitude of Clarke, he clearly nicks the ball to the first slip & he's waiting for the umpire to rule him out.Is tat real Sportsmanship 4m No-1 Team???This test is surely one of the BITTER-Test's i 've ever seen.It's high time some South Asian Board has to make an uproar on the constant injustice that has been thrusted upon them.U can take a examples like Muralitharan's,Rashid Latif's,Harbhajan's,etc...This is the right time to make hay while the Sun Shines!!!

  • V.Aravind on January 9, 2008, 14:05 GMT

    Oh, and another thing. As for the Indian team over-reacting, I think it's about time! You are right, the batting in the second innings was terrible, and two bad decisions won't change that fact. But this is not about that. The Indians were not sore loosers, the Aussies are arrogant winners. It was Ponting that didn't shake Kumble's hand after the victory, don't forget that. That's lacking basic decency on the Aussie part. And you expect the Indian team to take it laying down? India has made itself a reputation of being spineless, be it in international politics or cricket. If we start biting back, maybe the attitude towards India will change. And please don't compare this to the plight of Indian farmers. That's our private dirty laundry, we made that mess ourselves. This is an issue of a foreign insult to our national honour. And it demands a sharp and severe rebuttal. And I am glad to see that the powers that be have decided to get off their fat butts and do something about it.

  • Ari80 on January 9, 2008, 14:01 GMT

    Clearly, the Indian media does not make any lofty claims to being balanced - they are, as one reader put it succinctly, self-respecting vultures. But you Mr. menon do make that claim, hence you shall have to go through more rigorous scrutiny: "Let's get a sense of balance. No Indian writing or broadcasting from Sydney mentioned that replays showed Sachin Tendulkar was out leg-before when he was in the twenties." True, but I am also yet to see an Australian newspaper writing or broadcasting from Sydney that mentioned the replays showing Hussey and Symonds being plumb lbws. Why different yardsticks for the Aussie and Indian media? In the interest of "balance", why do you not make a list of all erroneous decisions in the game[yes, include lbw's that were not given if you will], and do your debt-credit calculations?

  • nilotpal_c on January 9, 2008, 13:56 GMT

    Very clever, you have equated LBWs which are mainly judgment calls with caught behind ans stumpings, which are not. Try for a balance, even a blind person could see that the Umpiring was bad. Was it biased? I do not know, maybe it was just the pressure exerted by the Aussies, but it was very bad. Bucknor should never have been Umpire in this series. There have been repeated complaints against him by the Indian team, and now he has become incompetent to boot. He should have voluntarily stepped down, after watching the replays, sad that he had to leave like this. I do not blame the Aussies for playing hard and trying to pressurize the umpire, however, what I find hypocritical is that they speak of the "spirit of cricket" after that. The spirit of cricket has been a spirit for many years now. About Harbhajan, he should be banned if he did say monkey, but what about some transparency in the process? We still do not know on what evidence Proctor came to his decision.

  • pullyourheadsin on January 9, 2008, 13:55 GMT

    Thank you for you article. Even you are question Ricky Pontings integrity unfairly. By some strange reading of the rules you don't believe he controlled the catch completely there is no evidence that he knew it came into contact with the ground after he had completely controlled it. On Clarkes catch the replays from some angles cast some doubt but none show it wasn't caught. Technology may well have ruled not out but it is also likely wrong in this case. The whole point of the two captains agreement to the fielders word was that all catches close to the ground are suspect on television replays. If we are to use technology then we must accept that no catch close to the ground will ever be given out even when everyone on the field knows it has been taken because they all like hit the ground. PS There have been many cases of Indians not walking including Yuvraj in Melbourne test where unluckily for him he was incorrectly given out just after being incorrectly being given not out.

  • V.Aravind on January 9, 2008, 13:54 GMT

    Mr. Menon, your point is well taken, but honestly, what were you expecting? A calm and logical reaction by the people, or a restrained and balanced portrayal by the media? If you, or anyone else, actually expected either of those things, I would say you need a dose of reality. We live in a world where the ratings are more important than truth in the news. Be it Indian cricket or American politics, the media are all about sensationalism. Indian television is not the BBC, make no mistake. We have a billion people, with more than half of them with nothing better to do. This is India, where people abuse the concept of Satyagraha at every opportunity they get. Don't blame the politicians, we elected them. If you are going to get upset everytime the public overreacts or the government panders to vote-banks, then you will spend your entire life in misery. This is the way it is. The media will blow things up, the public will burn effigies. You should be used to it by now.

  • pullyourheadsin on January 9, 2008, 13:53 GMT

    Thank you for you article. Even you are question Ricky Pontings integrity unfairly. By some strange reading of the rules you don't believe he controlled the catch completely there is no evidence that he knew it came into contact with the ground after he had completely controlled it. On Clarkes catch the replays from some angles cast some doubt but none show it wasn't caught. Technology may well have ruled not out but it is also likely wrong in this case. The whole point of the two captains agreement to the fielders word was that all catches close to the ground are suspect on television replays. If we are to use technology then we must accept that no catch close to the ground will ever be given out even when everyone on the field knows it has been taken because they all like hit the ground. PS There have been many cases of Indians not walking including Yuvraj in Melbourne test where unluckily for him he was incorrectly given out just after being incorrectly being given not out.

  • SuperUser on January 9, 2008, 13:45 GMT

    This is the worst article I have seen on the issue. The author tries to mix politics, the media and a whole bunch of other stuff to subvert the actual facts and present his case. Indian politics and how Sarad Power does his job as aggricultural minister is never the point of the discusion. Words like "son of a bitch" and "Bastard" are not as offensice as "monkey"? Why? Because the white man thinks so? Gimme a break (or three)! I would ground my children even when they utter these words once in front of me. How can you compare an lbw decision with the clear caught and bowled? Its not like there is a bad decision or two or three. The whole test match is full of it. If I make half as many bad decisions as the umpire made, I would be fired from my job. Well, the current umpire is only suspended from his job for only one match. Benson should ask Pointing because Pointing had an agreement with Kumble? Oh, please!! Suresh, I used to have so much respect on you and your articles, but...

  • nsidd75 on January 9, 2008, 13:37 GMT

    It is unfortunate but bad umpiring decisions are part of the game of cricket. When was the last time a losing team ntirely happy with the umpiring. Perhaps if you ask Dravid he will argue that he was wrongly given out at least half a dozen times.

    The Indians have failed to admit to their mistakes of losing their grip over the match based on one poor decision. We must commend the Australians for taking full advantage of the situation which was not of their doig. Perhaps India should explain why they were undone by spinners like Symonds and Clarke whereas Kumble and Hrabhajan let Australia score over 400 in each innings. India lost becoz they allowed Australia to score over 400 in the second innings.

    Pakistna in the 2006 tour of England covered their short comings by converting the Oval fiasco into an issue of national honor. No one asked why they lost a series 3-0 in seamer friendly conditions despite having a decent pace attack.

  • Erik_Hoek on January 9, 2008, 13:33 GMT

    We cannot expect balance on issues relating to India's nationalism and nationhood. In many ways anti-racism and anti-imperialism are symbols of Indian nationalism. The events in Sydney have directly hit these symbols. For a nation that is at the forefront of fighting racism, having one of its citizens charged with racism is highly unacceptable. The manner in which Procter gave his verdict on the basis of the testimony of dishonest Aussie players and completely ignoring Sachin Tendulkar's testimony has shocked India. This must have reminded India that ICC and its referee are legacies of the British Empire.

    This is no longer a cricketing issue, but a matter of nationlism for India and hence the outrage. The controversy has united the whole of India like never since 1947. Politicians, media, cricketers, the board & fans speak in one voice cutting across all divides.

    Many in India would know that Bhajji must have said "teri maa ki"(mother f**) but Aussies heard "monkey"

  • Purushvichaar on January 9, 2008, 12:59 GMT

    Nothing can be more of the mark. Since when have abuses starting to be condoned off. If one is tolerant about abuses so far it does not become the norm. And please get out of the mindset that what is being practiced by Australia becomes the norm. Countries have tolerated it (including UK - a la Monty Panesar) as they wanted to get on with the game. But now the water has gone over the head. Also remember it is not that we do not have abuses in our vocabulary. We have very delectable choices and can deliver the same whereever required. Let ICC decide what practice is to be followed. But then remember and be forewarned that whe the meanings of those abuses will be decipehered they will make the word 'Bastard' look like a polite word. And will not only make the current sledge masters go red in their face but others as well (including you). It is absolutely fair that one stands up and takes a stance. This nonsense has been going on for far too long.

  • NumberXI on January 9, 2008, 12:57 GMT

    Suresh Menon's attempt at level headedness is poor. And one-sided.

    Because while there are idiotic and imbecilic (?) Indian TV channels spewing all kinds of hatred, their equivalents are aplenty in the Australian media in the form of Peter Lalor, Robert Craddock, Phil Lutton etc, whose presentation of the events has stemmed more from cultural denigration and bias. A truly balanced view would have carried criticism of both viewpoints.

    As for whether or not the Tendulkar LBW was reported in the press, wake up Mr.Menon. Lots of us did just that and watched on TV how he was fortunate not to be given out. And ditto with Ponting's LBW in the first innings. You would think we all live on an island where communication only happens through smoke signals!!

    Sure India lost the test, and sure we are down 0-2. But, unlike in Melbourne, this was not a defeat that was deserved, and while the team earned the brickbats it received after Melbourne, I think they deserve a degree of sympathy here.

  • 1tonne on January 9, 2008, 12:55 GMT

    The greatest integrity in our sport is to abide by the umpires decision- I see Indians crying about the lack of integrity in Aussie sportsmanship but they seem to be forgetting this most important point. The Aussies have not been much better taking the moral high ground- it's all to easier path to take when you've one 16 in a row, a little understanding that they were very lucky to get through this test without a loss would have gone a long way. India bring your best game to Perth and make the Aussies earn their world record.

  • vijayc on January 9, 2008, 12:53 GMT

    I agree to a great extent with you, Mr. Suresh Menon but I feel you have erred in stating "How do we drop so quickly into the us-and-them mode." Let me remind you that viewers watched Bucnor & co. patiently when Symonds escaped thrice on the very first day. Again, on the second,third, fourth and fifth day many must have calculated that there was no way the aussies could have won without help from the umps.Perhaps they could have lost by an innings.Many Indians have seen Team India been beaten by the aussies, whom we hold in awe, several times before but we accepted then that the better side won. We cannot say the same for the Sydney match though. No SIR--our reaction was not "So Quick" as you say.We watched silently for four days. We didn't react even when Symonds said he had "snicked" the ball. It was only when these cheats rubbed salt into our wounds by trying to get bhajji out of the way, we Indians felt that enough is enough.

  • Rishlovescricket on January 9, 2008, 12:52 GMT

    I thought exactly the same way day before when I argued about the reactions of family and friends. I just said the same. The focus shifted from cricket in the shadow of all these controversies. I don't say that Indians are wrong or Harbhajan did anything wrong, but neither I can say that about Aussies. Though it is certain that Umpiring was at worse level and that might have cost India the match , but how can you argue for a team whose last three wickets cant stand in for 4 overs, though they tried time wasting tactics. The game of cricket which i am passionate about shouldnt be subdued under the prejudices created by extereme nationalism..enjoy cricket folks..move on...forget small things and focus on beauty of the competitive game..which shows all measures of life. All the Best to all.

  • nvss1 on January 9, 2008, 12:45 GMT

    I hate to differ with Suresh Menon, no one disagrees the fact that India failed to play 70 overs which is a shame, but the point is the way the Australian cricketers have carried themselves on and off the field. Any lame person can differentiate between "playing hard" and "playing just for winning with horrendous appealing", there has to be a fine line between them. I am surprised that the so called "playing hard team" and "captain with integrity" failed to even shake hands after winning the match. Its not a question of BCCI wielding power, Brit and Aus used to treat the Asian teams shabbily and dont you call that even a bigger racism. Even Sachin was buoyed in Mumbai, its not about winning, its about the way its played. I used to be a great fan of Sanjay Manjrekar(inspite of failure to convert his talent into cricketing reality), but after reading all his articles I wonder what he has done during his playing days. Think about the players, always easy to post comments sitting outside

  • ILuvTests on January 9, 2008, 12:43 GMT

    A very sensible article - which has almost got it right. The media has gone over the top. And the BCCI reaction is also excessive. What has been missed in the articleis two factors:

    1. Ponting and Clarke, after the benefit of replays, still defend both catches. That is wrong. Not walking is not cheating but this is.

    2. For Mike Proctor to say that one team is telling the truth, is saying that he believes Australia and disbelieves India. Why? When we have a lawyer, we have legal proceedings. Rules are different for legal proceedings and beliefs are not permitted. Sorry, Proctor, you erred.

    Finally, get on with it and play the matches left. But do not forget that the body language of the Australians said it all in this test - they cannot believe that any team can challenge them.

  • StarveTheLizard on January 9, 2008, 12:42 GMT

    Mankind are funny creatures. No matter where we were born, how we worship or what we do for a living, we all seem to link our personal happiness to the performance of our national sports team. It almost seems like we think that the result of one particular match has some bearing on our future well-being and contentment!

    If our team wins then we feel positive and happy. Our team members are heroes and must be treated accordingly. If it loses then the whole team are undeserving of the time and money they have received. If we don't blame them then the loss occurred because the other side cheated or the officials were biased.

    Our journalists know all this. They know sensational copy sells. Fanning the flames of "righteous" indignation and nationalism sells newspapers.

    I would suggest we all calm down and move on but I know it would not do any good. This thing will have to ride it's course until the next "scandal" comes along.

  • u354488 on January 9, 2008, 12:42 GMT

    India are setting a dangerous precedent by putting themselves up on this moral pedestal. They now have to play all their matches as perfect gentleman, walk when out, no sledging, no time wasting, no unwarranted appealing, no unsportsmanlike like celebration upon taking a wicket, etc. They obviously feel they are innocent of all this. On reporting Brad Hogg as a revenge act, this is school yard stuff and shows how childish the Indians are behaving in this matter.

  • Stalinn on January 9, 2008, 12:28 GMT

    Mr Mennon - You make whole lot of sense. Being an Indian supporter, personally it was a heartbreak for me to see Indian loosing like this. I hope media will stop the nonsense and let the team focus on opportunity areas where players lack...Till date nobody has spoken about Dhoni/ Yuvraj /Jaffer not playing well in Australia...

    I urge Indian media not to blow this issue more...This is Cricket and let the men in Blue manage it

    Want to prove something big - Win the next test match my friends...

    Stalinn

  • vijujack on January 9, 2008, 12:19 GMT

    Nice article indeed though a touch anti-Indian team!! If i were to share my thoughts on the Sydney test, the whole drama has to be divided into different segments instead of clubbing them all together wherein most Indian readers on the net call it among other things a slur on the nation's honour -it indeed is embarrassing to read some of the reactions wherein one reader in rediff was downright vulgar about Mother Teresa 1. The umpiring standards was woeful to say the least with Indian team at the wrong end of the stick 2. Australian cricket team keep talking about playing "hard & fair" - if that was the case Symonds & Hussey should have done the Gilly walk; Clarke & Ponting shouldn't have claimed the catches. This isn't hard & fair. 3.Indian team played atrociously in the 2nd innings. 4.Harbhajan should be banned if he said it- he has a flawed history 5.Sledging should be put to rest, using this as the watershed. Let cricket be played hard & fair with bat & ball, not with crude words

  • Nav80 on January 9, 2008, 11:46 GMT

    I feel the BCCI have gone on a mission to smoke up the unfortunate way in which India lost, which had the potential to generate some critical reactions at home.

    Thanks to Ponting's ridiculous run to the umpire, the BCCI got all the fuel they needed to cover up the fact they lost a test they should have at least drawn (I am not putting down the Indian team here - it was simply what happened, and such results tend to impact Indian players/officials harder than in other countries).

    Afterall, before this test even started we all knew just how Australia played, and that umpires are only human. C'mon, just how many of Warne and McGrath's wickets came from intimidation of batsmen and umpires?

    Nothing new happened in this test. Harbajan and Bucknor are unfortunate victims of typical Aussie Sportsmanship & BCCI's fear of some of its fans - who are hugely influenced by the media. Hence I agree with Suresh that the media in India is one of the biggest powers in cricket at present.

  • shoaibarain on January 9, 2008, 11:35 GMT

    i think the comments in this article indicate the state of the people of India.Bothe of the teams has done mistakes,australian have more.there behaviour was disappointing,the way they have taken the umpires under immense pressure shows the intention of winning the match at any cost.Indians reply was also too much. Both the teams should look out their mistakes and work for betterment of cricket. Technology should be user more to help the umpires in dicision making.

  • srinath1076 on January 9, 2008, 11:28 GMT

    Interesting perspective. The article starts to be neutral but somewhere it seems to be more biased towards Ausssies. For instance, there is a mention of Sachin being out in the twenties. I saw that appeal and I think if that was out then as I can remember of the head, in the second innings both Hussey (around 30s when he got a plumb in front on the backfoot when it kept low from Kumble) and Symonds (the leg before shout when Kumble was on hat-trick) are also out. So net-net what we saw was consistent bad decisions against Indians and that was not the case with Australians. Given these, asking for a different referee for the next match if not a knee-jerk or something un-acceptable on the part of Indian players or BCCI.

  • arbiter on January 9, 2008, 11:22 GMT

    At last, a well-thought, balanced article. I had given up hope on much of the Indian media, its rabid, hatred-invoking rhetoric, and pseudo-scientific polls. Well done too, on teasing out the complex number of issues; we need more informed comment like this, not the mindless bleatings of smug, self-interested officials from the BCCI holding the game we love to ransom. It's too easy (and stupid) to reduce all of this mess into a call for frenzied nationalism, to defend a nation's "honour". What rubbish...if you believe this, you are only buying into the BCCI's racist and divisive mentality.

  • JasontheBray on January 9, 2008, 11:18 GMT

    First Daryl Harper and now Bucknor. Granted that Bucknor proved in Sydney that he is no condition to umpire, but there is a trend developing that goes far beyond the Sydney Test match. The lesson for all cricket officials, players and umpires outside of Asia is don't mess with sub-continent power block. Careers not just effigies are being burnt down these days. Be afraid - be very afraid

  • winter on January 9, 2008, 11:15 GMT

    At last a voice of reason. However I doubt you will be able to break through the wall of rhetoric that pervades even the comments on this site.

    At the end of the day, the Indian cricket team still can't even bat through 70 overs.

  • Agnihothra on January 9, 2008, 11:14 GMT

    Dear Mr Menon while your view is a refreshingly contrarian,I think you have goofed up on one issue.The point that Tendulkar was close to LBW does not condon that Symonds was OUT to EDGES and STUMPINGS and not subjective LBW.He was out LBW in second innings and may have been third victim of a hattrick to Kumble but thats another matter. Michael Hussey and Hayden were plumb LBW to kumble in one over but they were not given.There have been so many decision that went against india that when we lost and on top of it Harbhajan got banned ,the reaction was bound to be furious.The channels cashed in like any self-respecting vulture would.

  • dwblurb on January 9, 2008, 11:13 GMT

    An honourable article. Many thanks and congratulations. There is no doubt that Bucknor is well past his best, and has been for some time. As correctly pointed out above, Tendulkar was himself the beneficiary of a poor decision and went on to drag India back into the match. Nor did India appear to have a problem with Bucknor when he repreived Sreesanth at Lord's last year, allowing them to escape with a draw. The Indian Board's decision to continue with the tour only on two conditions is particularly shameful, and has eroded much of the good will they gained as a result of the unfortunate umpiring during the second Test. This is the second time the BCCI have ridden roughshod over a home board within a decade (the 2001-02 tour of South Africa being the other), and does nothing to further the interest of the game internationally. Umpires sometimes play a part in teams losing (Chennai 1998, Kolkata 2001 being two examples), but threatening to go home as a result simply shows immaturity.

  • glenlock on January 9, 2008, 11:01 GMT

    Wow!! I am an Avid cricket follower and an Aussie! Also I follow the Aussie team and support them. I dont usually reply on these issues but this seems out of control. I am a bit dissapointed that the umpiring was bad against India. Simons should have been given out on 31! As for the stumping chance the third umpire would have said not out as it was inconclusive. It should have gone to the third umpire! Ponting was out in the first innings on 19! Although when he was given out he was not out! But also Tendulkar (who I love to watch as a cricketer) was also definatly out early in his innings, but made a lot of runs. The Indian team was unlucky there were more bad decisions against them than the Aussies! This is not uncommon in cricket! it happens everywhere. The wheel will turn and India will get some decisions. Settle guys its a game, just enjoy it for what it is. If the umpiring was good it might have been different, It might not have also!

  • str8bat on January 9, 2008, 10:57 GMT

    Finally along with Manjrekar's, a sensible article. Yes, it has to be tilted in favour of Australia given the outrageous reaction in India. On the one hand we want respect but we are not willing to respect international code of conduct that the use of the word monkey is simply not acceptable when used against a person who is either black or part black. Harbhajan is no babe in the wood. He plays county cricket and he would know how sensitive people are about these things. I hope he did not use the word but if he did, if should not be ICC but BCCI who should ban him. Then India will get back its international standing. Currently, whether the foreign press says so or not, India and Indians are appearing as bad losers and blackmailers. We have to beat Aussies on field not off using aggessive body language - not foul language like the Aussies do! Finally what about Indian respect for seniors - the way Bucknor has been talked about on national TV is a national disgrace! Shame on us Indians.

  • itsgriffo on January 9, 2008, 10:47 GMT

    I live in Canberra, not 5 minutes walk from where the Indian team were practicing tonight. I'd been so excited about this tour, and thrilled to watch Tendulkar's innings. But I couldn't bear to go and watch them train tonight. I'm not proud of the way the Australians behaved in Sydney, but I believe the post-test reaction from India has been disgraceful. Ranging from the BCCI throwing it's weight around (can't wait until they've only got two umpires left they 'approve'; threats to pull out again if the Harbhajan issue isn't resolved in their favour) to the ridiculous churlishness of Indian supporters. I've never seen a more biased, hypocritical and insecure display in my life! I too would be happy for them to go home like the sooks they are. If India ever gets its act together and becomes as good as it thinks it is ("the best batting lineup in the world" - hardly), one thing's for sure - they'll be more hated than Australia

  • Sheela on January 9, 2008, 10:41 GMT

    Mr. Menon is partly right. Bucknor has been assigned low rating by former Indian Captains and he has slipped several times in other instances. Hence, like Venkataraghavan (who committed much lesser errors and after knowing these retired from umpiring) Bucknor should have retired gracefully. If Bucknor continues, he will incur the wrath of players only. Bucknor's anti Indian bias is beyond doubt. As for going overboard by Indian media, Mr. Menon has also gone overboard in his article and so pot should not call kettle black.

  • ChuckingMuraliMakesMeSick on January 9, 2008, 10:07 GMT

    Interested in an Australian viewpoint? Here goes. Bucknor had to go, Benson should be reminded umpires, like players, have to do their job or they will get sacked. Ponting cannot be the tough guy in the playground then go whinging to the teacher when things get hot (ICC edict or not!). We sledge - and we always will, but it's about establishing uncertainty in the opponents mind, not mindless abuse (which isn't effective anyway and should be stamped out). Cricketers are professionals, it's their career. Who hasn't been subjected to 'mind games' at work? If you haven't, you will. How Harbhajan was found guilty by Proctor is beyond most Australians, he may be guilty but it does not appear to be proven - we need transparency. And processes put in place so that the rationale behind decision-making is clear and consistent. The BCCI 'Sword of Damocles' method of diplomacy, while carrying weight with the ICC makes no friends in Australia, ultimatums raise hackles. PS I wish VVS was Australian.

  • bogieman on January 9, 2008, 9:44 GMT

    you want to believe a Ponting's accusation against Harbhajan Singh, but dont want to believe Kumble's charge of Aussie cricketers not playing in the spirit of the game. Media certainly went overboard but this time they were right.

  • arty90 on January 9, 2008, 9:40 GMT

    Thanks for the excellent article. I think there is a lot of selective consideration of the game and the targetting of Ponting and the Australian's is over the top. Both teams played the game hard. The Indian's unarguably got most of the bad decisions but scanning through the cricinfo commentary makes interest reading. There were one or two LBW appeals (you mention Sachin's) that could have been given in that first innings and would have made a very different game. The cricinfo commentary also refers to some rather "ambitious" appeals by both teams. Good and bad appeals and umpiring decisions, and whether to walk or not, are all part of the game and are too easily emotionalised as good or bad sporstmanship. Clarke may have hung around when caught in the first innings but he was hardly alone, I thought Sharma didn't rush off when obviously caught at the end of game. I also had the impression that Ponting walked straight away when Harbajhan got him in the second innings.

  • mattrick on January 9, 2008, 9:27 GMT

    Great article and great comments too. It's nice to see a bit of calm and reason amidst the chaos that has been swirling about in the last few days. There is nothing that happened in this Test Match that should be creating this sort of crisis. There is a precedent for all the incidents that happened in this match and if cricket could survive previous outbreaks of sledging, poor umpiring, racial insults and bad sportsmanship surely it can survive this. Everyone concerned should take a deep breath leave the ICC to do it's job and at the end of the day do what every schoolboy cricketer does, accept the umpires decision and play on.

  • beachcricket on January 9, 2008, 9:20 GMT

    The issue here is the player behaviour in the recently concluded Sydney test and was it within acceptable norms. The answer is no. We are not conducting a criminal trial where allegations of actions committed few years back are called into question. Indian media goes overboard on everything, so why complain. You have to do the right thing, even if you believe it may create animosities among 9 other countries. Since when taking a stand for a just cause needed to consider the popularity quotient. Ponting played spoil sport by complaining to the head-master. He grounded the ball and claimed the catch and declared out for a catch that even the fielder that took was not sure if it was clean or not. No one says, even die-hard Indian fans, that Indian players are innocent. When umpiring decisions go in favour of the host 9:1 ratio, do you expect the watching public to keep quiet. Then why play the game at all when everyone knows the result is unfair. ICC is not bigger than the game.

  • anban on January 9, 2008, 9:19 GMT

    There are two different threads here - 1. The breakage of moral fibre, 2. Justice denied.

    Cricket crossed the moral debate long ago, when batsmen decided they wont walk, when bowlers and keepers decided they would appeal for anything that umpire may give out and when ICC decided sledging is a part of the game. So lets not whinge on that. Agreed. Suresh, your point taken so far.

    It is an entirely different story altogether on the justice side. Match turning decisions were made against India. Action taken? - Bucknor removed. There was no way players were going to play their natural cricket under him in Perth, so why persist? I had rather switch off my television then seeing players nick to slip and hope umpires misjudge catch. So Suresh - stop whinging against this.

    Lets imagine Suresh. You wake up one day, find that somebody charged you with murder. Judge listens to him only and jails you for 3 years. You lose your face, your job, your wife. Fair? Bhajji's case is similar.

  • dicksta on January 9, 2008, 9:14 GMT

    good article - and i think well balanced there is too much hype about what the real issues are if there were racist comments made and Ponting didnt report them- would he too be labelled as a a racist - he was in a no win situation why did kumble offer to apolagise for something that never occurred did clarke , and ponting have control over the ball, did they have fingers under the ball keeping the ball millimeters from the grass did australia behave poorly after their win in contrast to the indian teams win after the Twnety 20 final are most of these things just different views by one eyed supporters on both sides that see greys as black and white are many of the issues cultural clashes - australia thinks it does nothing wrong because this is the way we grow up plaing cricket - different from india - not better not worse - just different part of plaing sports against other countries is to learn about the way other people see things - i hope we all can learn

  • shiverma on January 9, 2008, 9:11 GMT

    A good unbiased article, but in my opinion, we have to be clear as to what is being said by who. As I understand, Indian Team did not ask for Bucknor's removal, they were just making a stand, arguably rightly so, on the Harbhajan case. Whether Bhajji is racist or not, is not for us to judge. We all are in our own ways. And in trying to be politically correct, we end up seeing things that might not be there. I think Indians' Stockholm Syndrome might be rearing its head because of so many things happening and all turning out to be in India's favour. I think BCCI pushig for Bucknor's removal was over the top, an official, strong complaint should have sufficed, with ICC deciding what to do, based on the evidence. But, i fully agree with the continuing stand of Indian team to not play one dayers if the ban is not revoked, unless ICC has very strong evidence suggesting Bhajji's offence. I think poor Hogg has just got dragged and no one seems to be fighting, or even dropping a tear for him.

  • Aditya-Sud on January 9, 2008, 9:02 GMT

    Don't try to please everybody, Mr. Menon.

    I find this incredible- "bastard" and "son of a bitch" are _honourable_ insults??? I wonder whether the average Indian man- Harbhajan, incidentally, is one - would agree with you. Certainly he'd find 'monkey' much more docile- so why on earth is it the _Australian_ textbook of insults that is being hurled at him?

    Just because India have won a victory on the Bucknor issue doesn't mean we start cringing. We deserved to win that- and we deserve to win on Harbhajan- and we shouldn't be apologizing for either.

  • krk_mohan on January 9, 2008, 8:55 GMT

    First of all, you are trying to project a different view for the sake of it. As we all know media is news hungry and cashes in not only on cricket but also politics, films and scenes from bedrooms of celebrities. So what you wrote on that count - though 100% correct is 100% impertinent.

    [QUOTE] But if the two captains had an agreement regarding catches close to the wicket, then Mark Benson was right in turning to Ponting when Sourav Ganguly was caught. After all, Steve Bucknor was further away from the action. [/QUOTE]

    Sorry to say the above matter is plain rubbish. How can the umpire know about some agreement the captains made. He is neither privy not bound to any agreement.

    Yes there was over-reaction and will be so in the future - Whats the point your article is about and what do you want to convey newly?

  • Krishna_Sydney on January 9, 2008, 8:53 GMT

    Suresh, you are comparing apples and oranges. Symonds was an umpire-only Lbw decision. Symonds's case was a thick edge thicker than buttered toast. Ishant , a No 11, may have wasted 30 secs time. There is a punishment meted out systematically in cricket for time wasters and Ishant would have been aware of it. The appeals agst Dravid, Ganguly and Dhoni (Pontings catch)- all critical wickets- were conscious intimidating appeals made by Australian players.And youve seen them. Its like comparing a pickpocket with serial criminal offence.And you know what came first.

    Yes granted Pawar may have an axe to grind. Its the ICCs job to see to it that he is not allowed to. But surely an apology is not too much to ask for the unfair play in the calls made above. I think Anil is well within its rights to expect Ricky to walk up, finally shake his hand and apologise and agree to mutual withdrawal of claims and let bygones be bygones, and make a fresh start. Dont you think so ?

    Krish

  • JM__ on January 9, 2008, 8:46 GMT

    Most of what is written by Suresh makes sense. But Aussies were into mind games and half-cheating for a long time and it was one too many. As Harsha Bhogle put it, the young Indians are not the same as an average 70s Indian cricketer but seethemselves as equal to Aussies and whoever.

    Yes, we need balance; congratulations to Ponting and archaic/insufficient ICC-rules for disturbing that balance and now we have Indians overcompensating for that lost balance.

    *Some of the archaic rules: 1. Racist sledging is wrong but general cursing parents, family etc is ok 2. "minimum number of overs to be bowled...". is this day and age, make it "number of overs to be bowled". If Aussies were ending up on the losing side they would have delayed and bowled the minimum overs anyway! 3. Bucknor is a proven bad umpire in the last 4-5 years including in the recent 50-50 Worldcup finals? Many captains have rated him 0 and asked him to wear a hearing aid? But he continue to officiate in the elite panel?

  • try_to_think_clearly on January 9, 2008, 8:43 GMT

    Yes it is nice to be finally getting something that resembles slightly balanced coverage of these issues. Whilst the Australian sportsmanship may be called into question I think the reaction of the Indian board is a disgrace and is showing the root of some of the real problems. On the topic of the racial slur and all the 'innocent until proven guilty', 'absence of evidence' & 'only one mans word against another' claims made by commentators and armchair experts it should be remembered there are generally 2 distinctions made in legal cases. This is whether it must be proven 'beyond reasonable doubt'(criminal law) or whether it is to be decided 'on the balance of probability'(civil law). The match referee is NOT a judge or operating from a court room but if people rant on that the decision wouldn't stand up in court remember this would be treated as a civil matter (ie negligence & claims for damages under the British legal system) and as such will be decided on the balance of probability.

  • OnionBag on January 9, 2008, 8:42 GMT

    I am a passionate cricket fan. I enjoyed watching the high standard of cricket played by both sides during the recent Sydney test. In the last few days I've witnessed and read limitless insults and slurs leveled at the Australian team and country on TV and the web. They have been painted as classless, cheating and boorish convict descendants; all because one man decided enough was enough. However in comparison the Indian team have been portrayed as saintly ornaments to the game. This overwhelming response has had the effect of influencing the local media in Australia to join in the hanging of the Australian cricket captain. I've watched a lot of cricket and I actually believe that since 2003 when a decision was made to improve on field behavior, the Australian team is one of the better behaved in world cricket. Things happen on a cricket field as can be seen in this link...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofCYo7k7M9Q

  • Karlap on January 9, 2008, 8:31 GMT

    India played badly, no doubt. Ganguly dismissal would not have been an issue if he had not edged the ball. Watching the match, I had a strong feeling that Ponting and his team 'knowingly' used tactics which pressured the umpires, and were not 100% honest. Ponting was in a tremendous pressure, he declared late. So he used all tactics and orchestration of appeals to get to umpires. Umpires defaulted. The reaction in India is driven by commentary by Gavaskar, comments by Kumble after match, and poor investigation of Harbhajan's case. If Australia was in India's position, they too would have raised hue & cry (may be not with effigy burning, etc). Removing an unsure umpire during series is good, I have nothing against it. In other sports too umpires are changed due to lack of performance. In fact, match referee must have pushed ICC to change the umpire, and spoken to two captains after the match. This would reduced the tension, and redeemed the situation we are in.

  • BigG on January 9, 2008, 8:30 GMT

    At last an impartial (may be even a lil biased towards Aussies) article, by an Indian. I totally agree that the fuzz they(BCCI) are making over this is over the top. India has too much say in ICC matters, and there should be a limit on that. Aussies and English having done the same, giving them a taste of their own medicine is good but they haven't done this sort of a thing, as far as I can remember. But in all of this we should take in to account that Aussies are the worst sledgers ever, so intimidating this vulnerable character (in Harbajan) might have been a tactic by the 'Punter' to get his nemesis (at least in this series) out of the way (Pat in the back for Andrew Symonds, job well done).

  • Barnes245 on January 9, 2008, 8:21 GMT

    Suresh, thanks for the piece. For days during this saga I - and I'm sure many others - have been trawling the papers and the internet for a commentary with just a hint of balance and reason. You made a very valid point in identifying the distinction between: Ricky Ponting and Australia's behavious; the umpiring, and; the alleged racism. For the BCCI to flex its muscles and effectively blackmail the cricketing world in the way it has done should be considered the biggest sleight of all. Whatever happened to letting results speak for themselves. The umpires didn't win the Sydney Test for Australia. While they certainly didn't help India's cause - there's no denying that - there should be some soulsearching from the nine batsmen who have no excuse other than being second best. COngratulations again on the piece.

  • Neutral on January 9, 2008, 8:19 GMT

    I agree to the comments of Suresh Menon. As mentioned in the article, the media over reacted for the incidents. The people also took these things too much into their heart without seeing what is the reality and what is to be done.Moreover, i strongly believe that Cricket is given a status more than what it really deserves in our country. It is after all a game. The youth in India need to do a lot than just burning the effigies of Bucknor and Benson or Pointing. Why don't the media make it a bigger news saying that the captains of both sides agreed even before starting the series that the umpires can consult the fielders and decide on the catches? Mr. Gavaskar was having too much to comment during the match on Benson when Ganguly got out. Doesn't he know that the captains have already agreed and because of that only Benson was referring to the fielder. If he doesn't know and just giving comment then it is ridiculous considering the status of the Gavaskar.

  • HeySamba on January 9, 2008, 8:18 GMT

    Suresh Menon's article looks great but seems to miss the basic point. The article suggests a gandhian approach. You bet me on one cheek so show the other cheek. Its just that a part of the usual Aussie strategy of mind games went wrong. Ricky "cheater" Ponting did not know what hit him when the Harbhajan issue bounced. We do not know what happened on the field that day, only two people know the truth, Symonds and Harbhajan. So instead of leaving it there making a show of it was something of a pressure tactic. Its just that the Sydney XI decided to stand their ground and the board had to stand behind them because of the media and the public. Lets accept the basic fact that Cricket from an economical and fan following perspective has its base in the sub continent. The MArket is here where the people chant about their heroes... So the power too is here. The media and the boards need to satisfy this market. The Aussies started it lets hope the BCCI ends it to make this market happy.

  • janardan on January 9, 2008, 8:18 GMT

    The article misses one serious point.Scooping up catches on the half volley and knowingly claiming cathes is pure cheating.To add to this misleading the umpire by pointing a finger up is still more disgraceful.The cheats should be banned in line with the penalty faced by the players in football for feigning injuries.

  • jomy.francis on January 9, 2008, 8:17 GMT

    Agree with many things but: 1. It is a common thing that Aussie's will show their true color if there is a chance that the other team may win. Sledging is not a new thing, do you really want to say that anything that they do/say to disturb the batsman should be taken in the right spirit & they can't accept the same thing. 2. I do agree that Aussies WERE, not are, a great team, mark my words: "Aussies will slip in rating in another 6 months". We will definitely see other teams like South Africa, India & West Indies climbing up the ladder. It's like WI's who were nearly unbeatable at one point, but they fell. 3. They do come out with lot of negative points about their opponents prior to the match, so as to demoralise them. But now a days it is not working much.Even a small team like Bangladesh had their day. 4. I am not saying Indian's are angels, but in this test 80% of things went against India & the Aussies had a good hand in this, mainly by INTIMIDATING the umpires.

  • nik_alvin on January 9, 2008, 8:13 GMT

    Well, agreed that Indian media is over exaggerating but your article is no different, just the direction is opposite. You are agreeing to the facts "Yes, the umpiring was horrendous. Yes, the charges against Harbhajan Singh might not hold up in a court of law." ..well that is injustice in my book and even though Harbhajan would have said something punishing him without proof is as good as committing a crime. Unfairness cannot be justified. I dont want to move on why should I, I want justice is it too much to ask for!

    I dont like Harbhajan's attitude and want him out of the team, but it can wait. I know BCCI is a bunch of money minded politicians but still in times like these I will support them because the cause is right!

    Bucknor and Pontings team's action will have consequences, and nothing says that they have to be balanced, why instigate??

    Pointing finger at young Ishant is immature. Why do people in India always pull each other dow

  • Aravind-Naick on January 9, 2008, 8:10 GMT

    1. Indian media didn't claim Harbhajan is innocent. There is always the subtle message that something unruly happened from Bhaji's side, but on what moral grounds can Ponting's team-the notorious sledgers accuse him, especially when he was provoked. 2.I donno whether the author who is from bangalore will accept being called a "bastard" which is quite "honourable". 3. Ponting's integrity is questionable. He can claim catches which are grassed and still say he was right. He can even ask a media representative to go out for questioning this. Many of these Aussies didn't even shake hands with Kumble at the end of the match. Haven't you ever wished when these Aussies are going to play it fairly, without bringing the players' relatives to the field? Well, its not mental disintegration. It is rowdiness. I hope they will moderate sledging now. 4. Media want hot stories. When it's a valid cause, let them celebrate with it.

  • Nihontone on January 9, 2008, 8:10 GMT

    Excellent article amid all the hysteria and posturing! The title says it all. Well done Suresh Menon.

  • ALFREE on January 9, 2008, 8:09 GMT

    They're simply over-reacting because of the loss after too much pre-match overconfident speeches publicly. Ponting has never made any pre-match confident speeches; however simply leaving it to the field where it really matters to win matches purely on competitveness. I sympatise with the umpy for being axed, as there has always been human errors in past matches. I think India has also forgotten about Tendulkar in the 20s, eventually going on to score a 100+ n.o in their 1st innings. Stop blaming your loss on "Poor Spirit of the Game" gimmick. Better get yo team focused coz the Aussies are looking at clean sweeping this series after what transpired in the last test postmatch fiasco. They're coming back more competitive so stop yo mouth talking, reminiscing about 4yrs ago and get some real competitive edge into the remainder of this series.

  • Royy on January 9, 2008, 8:00 GMT

    Accusing Harbhajan Singh of racial abuse may seem a trivial matter to Mr. Menon, but nothing could be more apt than the support he received from his team-mates, cricket board and fellow countrymen. In the context of the modern society it is an ignominous burden to one's ideantity as a human being and could have devastating effects on his mind. I think it is rather relieving that neither the BCCI nor the media, Navjot Sidhu and all, lost sight of the matter in the apparent truce-effort from ICC in the form of removing Bucknor from the rest of the series. If Mr. Menon were to believe then whether you are a former test cricketer, or a media journalist, or a minister of state you have to forsake your human identity first and then cocoon yourself from the greater world involving facts and feelings not immediately pertaining to your vocations. It is a shame what went on for those 5 days at Sydney and it is a fitting aftermath to the unfortnate trail of events. Cricket is not all-surpassing.

  • Fej21 on January 9, 2008, 7:58 GMT

    thank goodness for some sanity and moderation. It has in particular irked me in the last few days that all the issues have been blended into one gigantic and ridiculous melodrama. Although the individual issues are worth addressing, the disproportionate response to what is apparently seen as an affront to Indian identity in a way that is almost conspiratorial has been sad and embarressing.

    I don't know who was right or wrong in the cricketing issues, but just about everyone lost the plot afterwards. Again, thank you for the sanity!

  • ETC00ETC2000 on January 9, 2008, 7:50 GMT

    Great Article!! We are trying to set a bad tradition and giving the world a less than par impression about our love for cricket. The only way to beat Aussies is to play hard and beat them in all 5 days. War of words wont let us to the end of it until we beat them with bat and bowl. I like the example of Sachin's lbw being used in the article. All the Umpires are human. I particularly always liked Steve Buck. Anyone can have bad days. Lets not be proud by taking this incident to another horizon of hatred with the war of words. Lets beat them with about ability. And by the way, who said Bhajji did not use racial slurs to Symonds? Just because we lost the game should not make him clean. Bhajji is a human to.. and lets take him as a human who could be mislead for a while in the heat of the game. And lets not lose our conscious reading the reactions of some losers.

  • canuthinkofaname on January 9, 2008, 7:48 GMT

    I do agree with Mr Menon's view that our reaction has been little over the top. But I do not agree whatsoever with his support of whatever Mark Benson did in the second innings. Agreement or no agreement between the captains, the umpires are neither bound by it by law nor should they be expected to. There is a certain person appointed just for clearing the on field umpires' doubts in contentious catches called the Third Umpire. If the square-leg umpire was far-off and not in a position to give a clearer picture, there was the Third Umpire to turn to. Whether he chose to ignore him because he thought Ponting would give a fairer picture or he knew the result of the referral courtesy the Symond's reprieve in the first innings is still unclear. Whatever the cause the action was not and will never be justified.

  • prithviraj on January 9, 2008, 7:48 GMT

    An excellent article which drives home the basic point that the famed Indian batting was incapable of lasting a little over 2 sessions. A real pathetic display has been cleanly washed under the carpet of racial allegations and bad umpiring decisions. What the Indian team needs to do is focus on cricketing matters. the ban on harbhajan may not be fair but to say that we represent the "Gandhian way of life" is but a little embarassing. Hope team india stands upto the mighty aussies in the coming test at perth and show some real guts needed to fight the men from down under.

  • usmanzone on January 9, 2008, 7:45 GMT

    Excellent article.. I'am a neutral here.... and this article really speaks our voice.

    However the arrogance shown by the aussies and ineptitude of the umpires be the cause of all this issue reaching new heights, how can one take our eyes away from the pathetic indian batting performance.

    Its amazing how south asian countries have this habit of making martyrs out of cricketers beaten on the sports ground. I'm from Pakistan but i still remember last year when Inzimam over reacted to Darrel Hair's accustations. Just like Inzi shouldnt hve refused to go onto the field, the indians should not make this a matter of life and death as they have.

    This muscle flexing by BCCI looks like a grapes are sour situation, as no matter what happens now, the fact remains INDIA have been beaten and will be beaten in the next coming matches by the same aussies who every body suddenly thinks dont know how to play. Let the time be the best judge about that.

  • craig_1 on January 9, 2008, 7:43 GMT

    Cricket is cricket, during the one dayers india were thumping themselves on the chest saying they were not going to be intimidated by australia during the test series.I have not heard any indians yeling about ricky ponting being lbw when he clearly hit the ball and when the little master tendulkar was rapped on the pads when 20 odd and given not out.As u are all aware in life u get some god decisions and some bad ones and that includes cricket.Stop whinging and get on with it.One more thing, what would have been done if Symonds had made a racist comment to Singh? All hell would have broken loose.It is test cricket not park cricket, Australia will play hard.if u cant handle it dont play it, quite simple.

  • Idol on January 9, 2008, 7:43 GMT

    Well done, Suresh. You have taken the intellectual high ground. YUo have used this opportunity to lambast the Indian media, INdian politicians and also to comment on the general state of the Indian poor. Perhaps that gives your argument some "balance". While it is indeed true that India could have performed better on Day 5, you have not discussed the possibility that India woudl never have been in the situation of saving the match but for the umpiring. YOu talk of Tendulkar getting a life and adding runs. That does not cancel out the Symonds decision, because he got two more lives. The rest of the Indian batsmen could have played out, but two consecutive bad decisions do shift a match situation. YOUr argument on the Harbhajan ban is too flimsy. If injustice has been done, and an appeal is needed that is all that the team has done. If asking for justice means going over the top - so be it.

  • Royy on January 9, 2008, 7:42 GMT

    Media will do it's bit, for the very reason Mr. Menon has written his article - to thrive. It is after all an industry and has to take care of itself. Most common men know where to draw the line when it comes to taking media analysis seriously. I cannot also sympathise with Mr. Menon's sardonic little jab at the Indian batting line-up for not being able to last for 2 sessions to save the test, as it is evident to even a kid watching that game that untl the two umpiring decisions had not gone glarignly against them in the second innings, they were well on track toward saving the match which they ought to have won. Furthermore, I don't think a simple laying down of the facts that went against the Indian team and to a great extent against the spirit of the game itself is a bigger mixing of oranges with apples than Mr. Menon's allusions to Mr. Pawar's 'avatar' as Minister of Agriculture in connection to the affairs related to the Sydney Test.

  • doil on January 9, 2008, 7:28 GMT

    Finally, an article from an Indian with a bit of balance and perspective. The Indians put up a great fight with alot of things going against them, which was great to see, but I have a feeling that all this jumping up and down masks our own shortcomings of not being able to bat 70 overs. I agree with 95% of what you wrote, but what I don't quite agree with is the business of Benson consulting the Australians over disputed catches. By refusing to turn and head to the sheds after belting the ball to slip Michael Clarke had hardly put himself in a position to claim a contentious catch at a crucial stage in the game.

  • Shikhar_TheGreat on January 9, 2008, 7:27 GMT

    That's quite a nice article Suresh. I too am a bit upset with an over the top response. The first day, I myself was angry at the umpiring blunders and Australia's sporting attitude. But now that I look back it (two-three days are enough to get all the things blended in my mind), I think the over-reaction was not only because of umpiring decisions or Australia's sportsmanship, but also looking at India lose from a situation where it shouldn't have. That did break the heart indeed. At the end, I was very angry too because in my subconscious, there was the thought that India had hardly got one chance to win against Australia, and that too got blown away with the umpiring errors.

    Initially, I thought the media was delightfully very supportive of India, but now it seems that the media are as usual doing things to feed their ratings, and nothing else. Hopefully, now India will give a better answer by its performance on the field than off the field.

  • mehdi007 on January 9, 2008, 7:27 GMT

    excellent article... i totally agree with you.. indians are just ruing because they lost the match and probably want to hide their inefficiency against a superior team like australia.. i remember in the recent series of pakistan and india, saurav ganguly was plumb lbw in the early part of his second innings but the umpire did not rule him out.. ganguly went on to win the test match for india and the series as well..this in addition to other decisions against pakistan added to the impact on the series...nobody complained just because india won... if it had been against them they would have made a mountain out of the mole.similarily steve bucknor is a respectable umpire who has officiated in a lot of games.you cannot blame him for some incorrect decisions made in the game.indias are just sore losers and nothing else. they should first of all bring their game upto the standard of australia then blame anyone.what would have been ideal was india to draw the test and then raise these claims.

  • tilakjkoil on January 9, 2008, 7:25 GMT

    This is definitely the most sensible, unbiased take on this chaotic situation that I have read on this site. Thank you very much Mr. Menon. However, while I agree with your statement that "all who use racially charged words are not racists," that is no justification for any racist insult that Harbhajan might have said to Symonds. He could have used any number of expletives to respond to Symonds' provocations, but pulling out the racial jab especially after all the events during the Australian tour of India was atrocious judgment on Harbhajan's part. Also, I find it a bit fishy that India are charging Hogg with similar slurs against Kumble and Dhoni after all of this has transpired with Harbhajan. If Hogg was guilty of such comments, why not report him right after the match? Is this a case of 'you try to remove our spinner, we come after yours?'

  • boltfromheaven on January 9, 2008, 7:21 GMT

    But are you not part of this media? In case you are, then your article has contributing to a balanced view.

    If it had been Australia at the receiving end of stuff like this whilst on a tour of India, there is not a shred of doubt that the Australian media and their team would have reacted even more strongly than has the Indian side. Guaranteed. In fact their reaction would have been part of the vision they project of "we play hard but fair and within the rules of the game" and other patent nonsense that they keep parroting.

  • Royy on January 9, 2008, 7:17 GMT

    Mr. Menon has exercised his right to free speech, preposterous as it may read coming from an Indian cricket-writer at the present state of affairs. May be it's the penchant to glow as that self-righteous being floating above the parochial nether world or a more down-to-earth but judicious Australian residency-winning effort. He should know, better than many, that neither Harbhajan's mother nor Sidhu's idiosyncrasies caused the furore amongst the Indian cricket loving public. Needless to say, a majority of this public come from a different socio-economic stratum than Mr. Menon's Indian "Man in the street", the latter having more immediately important worries to tend to than bickering over umpiring decisions. It seems Mr. Menon cannot be particularly sure about the judgmental capacity of the cricket-loving Indian middle-class, which, however we have no reason to believe is any lesser than his own. He needn't look so antagonised by the role of media here, as it is only too common today.

  • 12kris on January 9, 2008, 7:13 GMT

    It is a relief to read an article portraying slightly different sentiments from that of other reporters in the Indian media. But at the same time, one suspects that this article is written not as much on the basis of facts as on pre-conceived notions. As every body run by politicians,the BCCI too is inept, narrow-minded and arrogant because of the funds they have accumulated. But that should not cloud one's judgement of the situation. Steve Bucknor can be expected to make mistakes, even more than his rightful share. Yet, when he refuses to refer a close decision like Symmond's stumping,that is not ineptitude as much as arrogance. And if Ponting's persuation of the umpire can be excused, his obstinacy and cockiness while insisting that the catch he appealed for, clean, when everyone knew otherwise, can't be. Yet at Harbhajan's hearing, Proctor thought it was Tendulkar who was lying, and not the ones who insist that TV replays are!

  • voice-of-reason on January 9, 2008, 7:07 GMT

    It is great to finaly see some balance from the subcontinent. The BCCI is run by fans of cricket and people wishing to make money from cricket. People who have played the game for a long time know of the injustices of the game, but also of its balance. One day you are a cricketing god and the next you are a fool. Allow the game to return to balance, don't disrupt it by threatning behaviour. It appears to me that anyone who has a perceived injustice against Australia is giving them a great kick now and revelling in it. Peter Roebuck is leading the pack and has lost his balance. Cricket will survive, Australia will fail in time,but all of this is not helped by fanatical calls for test results to be cancelled and umpires sacked. Have any of these fanatics umpired a game, it i more difficult than you think, Don't ban someone for a day. If you have a bad day at work should you be sacked? Get some blance

  • sirhc8 on January 9, 2008, 7:02 GMT

    How nice to actually read a balanced article for once. You are absolutely right as well, there are a number of independent issues here that are being moulded into one by the media. I tend to agree with most of your sentiments on each of them. The bottom line, in my view, is that both camps are acting with extreme immaturity.

    On the dropping of Steve Bucknor. I wouldn't have objected to him being dropped for his performance but I find it troubling that the ICC caved in so easily to the BCCI as they have done for some time and will continue to do for some time. Regardless of one's view on a particular issue, I strongly object to the BCCI blackmailing the ICC, which is exactly what they are doing.

  • sunrisesinwest on January 9, 2008, 7:02 GMT

    Well I don't agree with you completely on this. Yes the media attention is way too much, which fuels people to go overboard (for both the good and the bad)! But seeing the umpiring standards and what ensued with Bhajji, It was refreshing for once India taking a stand! So you can get countless match turning decisions against you, your player can be accused without any evidence and hey I complain because coz Im Indian and we are the new power block blah blah.. Seriously Mr Menon ur argument doesnt add up! And you know very well that snicking catches (which was heard in the stadium where wine was flowing) are a total different ball game then LBW. You very well know that the bat and pad was very close and was difficult to judge. Then I can say that the lbw decision in the last 3 wickets to fall was a dubious one and If that wasnt given India would have saved the test!! And also it is just not Peter Roebuck see all the polls in the Aussie papers.I think you have totally missed the pt here!

  • jokerr7 on January 9, 2008, 6:54 GMT

    This is fantastic. The first article I have read throughout this sorry episode that actually tells it like it is. I am Australian, generally very proud of our sporting achievements and in particular of our cricket team. I am disappointed by their behaviour after the win because acknowledging your opponents win, lose or draw is a must do in my eyes. Funnily enough I was disppointed and at the same time delighted with the umpiring decisions - Sachin's LBW not out let me see the little maestro make another sensational hundred; Andrew Symond's N.O. allowed me to be entertained by this ever maturing player's ability! Amongst all this were some excellent decisions - close LBW calls against Symonds, Dhoni, Harbhajan and Hussey were turned down, correctly too! I must admit I am confused as to why Ponting's catch is an issue - The replays show the ball perhaps touching the ground when the helmet was down over his eyes from a rough landing. He certainly didn't know he grounded it.

  • don69 on January 9, 2008, 6:53 GMT

    Mostly I agree, and parhaps "lumping" 3 different issues together was a mistake on the BCCI's part. However, the umpiring was so far below standard that something had to be done. The fact that it WAS mostly against India (not all, but most)seems conincidental, but it may have changed the outcome of the match. For a certainty, it India even had a sniff Ponting would have batted out the match and settled for a draw. Australia's response was poor sportsmanship, but that comes from Aussie arrogance, and being an Aussie myself I don't expect that much from professional sportsmen. Isn't India's behaviour after the 20/20 cup an indication? What about Harbajhan charging around the field? Players are bent on winning and being "nice guys" comes a poor second. That's pretty much standard behaviour these days. I wonder what the Indian response would be should the appeal arbitrator find against Harbajhan and hold the punishment...

  • SatyajitM on January 9, 2008, 6:52 GMT

    Agreed there is jingoism in public, agreed that media has gone over the top (In fact they have created entertainment shows with little bit of Mandira Bedi and lot of Sidhu jokes) but there is no denying that if people were not agitated BCCI would not have been driven to defend Bhajji and bad umpiring would not have made umpire change possible (I am really worried about umpire situation whereas we have only eight "Elite" umpires and we can see competency of some of those "Elite" umpires. So, is that profession not lucretive enough to attract good talent? ICC need to look into this on urgent basis). Yes, we need get some sanity back and let the game proceed. I however, won't agree to your contention that decisions were kind of evened out. If you talk about LBWs, there were many plumb LBW (per Hawk-eye) when Hayden, Hussey were batting in second innings. Nobody cried foul on that as well. If you talk about only edges/stumpings it's 7-1 in favor of Australia in this test.

  • sunrisesinwest on January 9, 2008, 6:51 GMT

    Well I don't agree with you completely on this. Yes the media attention is way too much, which fuels people to go overboard (for both the good and the bad)! But seeing the umpiring standards and what ensued with Bhajji, It was refreshing for once India taking a stand! So you can get countless match turning decisions against you, your player can be accused without any evidence and hey I complain because coz Im Indian and we are the new power block blah blah.. Seriously Mr Menon ur argument doesnt add up! And you know very well that snicking catches (which was heard in the stadium where wine was flowing) are a total different ball game then LBW. You very well know that the bat and pad was very close and was difficult to judge. Then I can say that the lbw decision in the last 3 wickets to fall was a dubious one and If that wasnt given India would have saved the test!! And also it is just not Peter Roebuck see all the polls in the Aussie papers.I think you have totally missed the pt here!

  • pj_hewitt on January 9, 2008, 6:50 GMT

    Thank you Suresh for finally providing a rational, realistic point of view. If only all those in India burning flags and crying blue murder could read this article. Unfortunately all they are doing is sullying the reputation of their country. One minor point, I believe it was a plumb lbw against Laxman, not Tendulkar, early in his century.

    I also would like to point out the 2nd test in the 2001 series where India came back from following-on to win. On the last day there were numerous highly contentious umpiring decisions (from Inidan umpires) againt the Australians, and ridiculous levels of over-appealing from the Indians. However, there was no complaining from the Australian team, no threats to pack up and go home, and no outrageous reaction from the Australian people or media. All that was remembered was a great game of cricket. Interesting to compare that response to this test match.

  • Nick1978ishere on January 9, 2008, 6:47 GMT

    I agree 100% that Peter Roebuck over reacted but he is a man with a number of long standing grudges and serves as a bit of a try-hard provocateur/sympathetic colonialist, here in Australia. Easy enough living to make I suppose, making a living out of being quasi-ra***t.

    I enjoyed your article a lot...

    My point is... all medias around the world are sensationalistic, India's, England's, Australia's too. Glad to see someone cast a new light on it all.

  • slewis69au on January 9, 2008, 6:45 GMT

    Well said!

    An article with balance - a rarity these days. No Australian thinks our team are angels and perfectly behaved but it would seem by the comments and media reports I'm seeing that many Indians with computers think their team is completely beyond reproach and has never had anything go right for them in terms of umpiring.

    Everyone take a deep breath and get on with playing/watching cricket please - no more threats to take your bat and ball and go home OR accusations of match fixing!

  • MelbourneAfzal on January 9, 2008, 6:41 GMT

    Here Here Suresh! We have finally got a sensible response from India. I was on the brink of losing all respect for India and Indian Cricket until your piece came along. Well Done for instilling sanity in to your people.

    I have been an ardent cricket fan for over 30 years and watched a lot of cricket around the world. It staggers me how opportunist people can blame Australia for not walking, for strong appealing, for unsportsmen like behaviour, for excessive jubilation etc etc.

    The only batsman who walks in the whole wide world is an Australian. Adam Gilchrist even walked during a world cup semi-final-argubaly a more significant game than a test match. While none of the Indians walk, they are ironically good at showing dissent. The behaviour of Yuvraj in the Melbourne Test personifies this. He didn't walk when he was caught bat-pad, and in the next over showed dissent when he was given out. He was infact out both times. How the hell can this go unnoticed to all Aussie bashers?

  • Cricket_Follower on January 9, 2008, 6:37 GMT

    Mr. Menon has tried to take a different path than others. He has forgotten however that India was competing against mighty Aussies. India needed aslice of luck in its favour to win. This did not happen but a host of umpiring decisions went against India. Deccan Herald listed eleven umpiring errors out of which eight went against India and three in favour of India. But Mr. Menon conveniently forgets that even before India began batting, aussies have conveniently reached 450+ score with the help of 162* from Symonds who has benefitted not once, not twice but thrice from umpiring errors. Anger against Bucknor is not because of his incompetence alone but also because of his sheer arrogance and antagonism against India, who considers them losers. Otherwise what explains his not calling for third umpire after Dhoni was appealing continuously for it? In fact, he was begging for it. And Bucknor like a great cruel dictator, simply wished it off. If you remember correctly, he repeated this feat.

  • asia_within on January 9, 2008, 6:35 GMT

    wow what a good article, i think Menon has a good point about the Tendulkar lbw where he wasnt given out, and how it was exactly similar to the Symonds not-out non-dismissal. In SURESH MENON, we have finally found a writer who thinks clearly and is not clouded by their jobs of creating stories based on little rumours. WELL DONE SURESH MENON and i hope many Indians get a hold of themselves back home.

  • nedkel on January 9, 2008, 6:32 GMT

    Well done Suresh Menon, At least someone can look at both sides of the coin. I am with you I think a few media people have gone way over the top and I think some common sense should come into order.In my opinon Peter Roebuck should retire after those comments he made about the Australian Captain.

  • apatti on January 9, 2008, 6:32 GMT

    Hi,

    I don't agree with you. How can u justify a decision wherein a umpire gives out because the captain said so? how can you justify the comments from ponting to a Indian Reporter? Also, are you trying to suggest that Australians played fairly, if yes please have a look at hussey's comments wherein he says we have to win at any cost!!!

    This article seems to be written to get into limelight.

  • Uppi on January 9, 2008, 6:31 GMT

    The media reaction - especially TV is obnoxious. Let me add to the tale of shame. Today morning a news channel proudly reported that a Jat association has announced a cash reward for cutting Bucknor's fingers. Now most probably this is a publicity stunt but it is sickening in its cheapness and barbarism. What was more sickening was the apparent support of the channel.

    Having said all that, the media reaction is obnoxious because this is just a game not because as many commentators are trying to suggest India is partly to blame. Saying only two batsmen got wrong decisions is disingenuous. Unlike Australia, India has only 4 good batsmen and 2 out of 4 playing in an innings is a good ratio. The point is that the two who were playing got bad decisions. Similarly, Symonds did not get 1 but three reprieves and not on LBW which is more prone to errors.

    Maybe the author should be asking for a sense of perspective and not balance?

  • Matilda on January 9, 2008, 6:24 GMT

    At last a balanced article. The media need to look at the big picture and stop resorting to tabloid tactics. If this happened in India and a touring side request was made to change the umpires it would have been turned down. The Indians on home territory are no better than any other team on home territory. It is one of the downsides of touring. The umpires are also under pressure, not just by the team but by the whole country and this has been proven in India, Pakistan etc. The majority of borderline decisions have been in favour of the home side. Unfortunately, whilst Cricket authorities resort to threats of pulling out of tours and the ICC give in, the situation won't change. Will Australia pull out of a tour if Brad Hogg is found guilty, I doubt it. They will appeal but they have never threatened to pull out of a tour unless there is a safety issue for the players, this is certainly not the case with the Indian players, their lives are not under threat. Welcome to the real world

  • onemorepov on January 9, 2008, 6:21 GMT

    Finally a point of view by an Indian that doesn't make me either cringe or hide my head in shame. What is disturbing is the total lack of objectivity, intelligence, and discretion shown by almost everybody, top to bottom. It is sad to see pictures like the ones accompanying this article and effigies being burnt. Sadder still is the attitude of the administrators, media and politicians. These are jingoistic times indeed for India. There is a shrillness in public discourse on almost any topic. More so in the case of cricket, because, unlike say, Australia, this is the only sport that a country of 1+ billion is any good at. So, while it is not surprising that collected and suppressed emotions are outpoured every time the national cricket team plays, it is indeed sad that the same 1 billion people cannot produce more than a couple voices of reason and good sense. Ah well. Nonetheless, an excellent article with only one technical flaw-reductio ad absurdum means something else entirely.

  • Chris_P on January 9, 2008, 6:16 GMT

    Excellent article that has clearly painted the entire picture.

    Your points were many of the ones I have been expressing since the test concluded. If India want to look at some reasons for their loss, they need only look to the BCCI who asked for only one 3 day in preparation to face one of the most daunting teams in the history of cricket, and this in their own backyard! Why? To be able to play some inconsequential one day series against Australia and pushing the Pakistan series back to the time they should have been touring and acclimatizing.

    The Australian catching, in particular was appalling, and if all chances were taken, umpire incidents aside, this game would have been over 24 hours earlier.

    Let's hope the series improves with overall attitude and hopefully some of the Australian players might have had a wake-up call with respect to their own actions.

  • bill_maher on January 9, 2008, 6:15 GMT

    ICC has to stop thinking like sport to purely imperial like. Where rules are set and they are followed strictly to the book. ICC them self should do a better job a governing cricket to get rid of hate , anger by doing their job which they get paid for.

    ICC need a lesson in politics. Their is smarter way to govern it but you need to release that change is itself is needed in ICC as cricket grows in terms of viewer and cash. Old ways don't work , They need to take into their hand by not forcing ICC ruling "Umpire are god !!!". They should them self look at umpire and decide if he competent or not. Umpire should have some liabilities.

    Also if think India was made , crazy , racist and hungry for some blood then you don't India. I only saw few poor idiots burning stuff on street, India has a one billion population and if majority were that pissed off then you would see at least 10million people on the street.

    If ICC do change and then BCCI complains every would back ICC.

  • RSG476 on January 9, 2008, 6:14 GMT

    I find it amusing that Mr Menon has suddenly woken up to the media going over the top now - where were you when the same media routinely villifies the Indian team via programs like Match ka Mujrim, when cricinfo refers to despicable sites like "ihatexyz" in articles, when print media refers to Endulkar ? Why did your conscience suddenly wake up ? Because someone other than Indians are at the receiving end ? Two clear things stand out in this controversy : a)that the umpires went beyond bad decisions, by not following due process set out by the ICC in referring to 3rd umpires/square leg umpires and b)a charge of a person being racist was upheld without ANY substantial evidence, and on the basis of the words of 3 Australians (vs 3 Indians), Procter was convinced that the Indians were lying.Would you accept this in any court of law ? BCCI did what the ICC rule book suggests-file an appeal.What did you expect?Finally, follow your own advice & stick to what you know-cricket,not agriculture

  • Force01 on January 9, 2008, 6:11 GMT

    Very nice article, puts things in perspective with a sarcastic tinge to it. I agree that the media are going overboard with their jingoism and are relegating real cricketing issues to the sidelines. Its time the ICC wakes up from its stupor and makes technology an integral part of the game - umpires should be allowed to refer any doubtful decision to the third ump. including contentious l.b.ws.

  • sachshj on January 9, 2008, 6:11 GMT

    Well written! It is the Indian media which blows these things out of proportion..today's TOI headline screams :India wins Sydney Test:. Talk about nonsense. We need to win matches on the field. I think the success of Twenty20 in one tournament has spoilt the media and fans. I hope team itself is not spoilt in the same manner. On Harbhajan issue, this could have been handled in a simple way. Really appreciate your comment on Pawar reacting to this more strongly than farmer suicides, I wish someone seriously brings on the issue of BCCI being professionally managed not headed by a politician. In that respect Dalmiya was much better, he focused only on cricket. May or may not agree with his way of doing things.

  • dramakeween on January 9, 2008, 6:11 GMT

    Yep, I agree. I think that if this has happened to the West Indies team or the Sri Lankan team, I dont think that Steve Bucknor would have been dropped, I do not think that the CA, BCCI and the ICC would have been held hostage in the way they are now if it was any other tea, besides India. Having said that, I agree, that Mike Proctor does not seem to have any evidence to indict Harbajan, but if he is going to punish him, he should have some sort of punishment for an Austrialian as well. I think Ricky Ponting has proven that he is the epitomy of an ignorant and arrogant Australian. But with his record as captain, Peter Roebuck must have been under the influence to say he should be sacked, but perhaps the CA should ask him to issue some sort of statement to explain himself, since he has brought the game into disrepute. Harbajan is one of those in the Indian Team that, like Sreesanth, doesnt quite understand how to make quiet remarks, he tends to go over the top, we've seen it before

  • sibs on January 9, 2008, 6:04 GMT

    Suresh has hit the nail right on the head. Umpires have been making bad decisions since the pioneering shepards started spending their time away from their flock and will continue to do so. The percentage of right calls hovers around 90% which while very good still means that out of ten batsmen one will be give out incorrectly. India has been getting the good with the bad, just like any other team. Kumble's 10 wickets in an inning were the result of rather generous umpiring and dont get me started on all the decisions going Sachin's way. In a recent ODI he was nearly runout but the umpire did not even call for a referral. The BCCI has been flexing it's bloated muscles for some time now and will do so since they are very aware of the power they wield through sponsorships and the sheer size of the viewing public. They have overturned the result of a match and a four match ODI ban imposed on Saurav for slow over rate. Sadly cricket is the loser.

  • Suresh_Krishnamurthy on January 9, 2008, 6:03 GMT

    This quest for a balance is itself imbalanced. If you write two sentences criticising Aussies, should you also write two sentences criticising Indians? What nonsense. Why should you be balanced when you know for sure who is at fault? Why ignore history? How many Australian series should India find it difficult to play because of poor umpiring before complaining? In how many home series should Australia benefit from umpiring before somebody raises a furore? How many matches should Aussies be allowed to mar because of their sharp tactics and sledging? Wake up all you balance seeking journos. Many of us wrote in many of the blogs even before the series that umpiring is a major issue. When things happen just the same way, your sense of indignation rises quite a bit. Please don't lose your balance in your quest for balance. I know Suresh is a very senior journo who has seen it all and done it all. Here he is completely in the wrong.

  • girishnks on January 9, 2008, 6:03 GMT

    I think we are losing ourselves in the world of thin-skinnedness which the west has perfected itself upon...every sentence spoken is weighed against so many parameters of race, religion, gender-bias , sexual orientation...thats its a wonder people still want to talk...lets not get that crap into cricket please..cricket has always had its share of rough and smooth days and as a cricketer, you need to bear it on the field and leave it there...that is part of the magic of competitive cricket...If Australia have been guilt of being cry-babies and running to the match referee...we Indians across the board have been guilty of confusing one sporting incident on the pitch with National pride.really !!is our national pride so fragile that it so completely hinges upon what happens on a cricket pitch between two competing sportspersons..lets learn to react with moderation..we seem to have either no reaction at all OR we go completely ballistic.its a dangerous precedent and I hope this is the last

  • Peaceforall on January 9, 2008, 6:02 GMT

    The problem here is that historically India has taken a lot of bad decisions, bad behavior in its stride and kept quiet. It is in the last 10 yrs that India has woken up and realized its potential, so this has given rise to confidence (maybe over-confidence sometimes and loads of aggro as well). I agree that all this reaction is over the top, but its because of pent up angst and frustration of all these years that our tolerance levels are so low. This is just my take on the situation.

  • Itchy on January 9, 2008, 5:59 GMT

    Having been at the SCG for two days and watched most of the rest on TV, I was left with the feeling that neither side was blameless in the "lack of sportsmanship" stakes although Australia probably lowered the tone the furthest, particularly with the celebrations at the end. Ridiculous appeals (both teams), lingering at the crease after being dismissed (Ponting and Ganguly), waiting for an umpires decision after being caught at first slip (Clarke), Harbhajan's absurd celebration after the Ponting dismissal all added to the flavour of the match. Both teams need to meet and agree to stop this rubbish now as this is what future matches deserve. Unfortunately this will probably never happen as Ponting does not think that Australia stepped over the line and, most likely, Kumble thinks the same of India.

  • Sudar_shan on January 9, 2008, 5:39 GMT

    Excellent article, Suresh! You are the only sane voice from the rubbles of jingoism and fanaticsm.

    It is a pity that two wrongs are made a right. I don't want to be in the shoes of umpire Asif Raul standing in Perth. If he commits an error against one Indian player will that lead suspension of ties with Pakistan? Amidst all this, Yuvraj and Jaffer will be silently laughing as their performances have been sidelined with these bigger issues.

    It is a case of Absolute power corrupting absolutely. But, who will bell BCCI?

    It is good to hear from rational thinkers like you leaving aside the emotions. After all it is a game, isn't it?

  • Samwise67 on January 9, 2008, 5:37 GMT

    The writer is incorrect to suggest that the lbws for Sachin (and Laxman) were not referred to by the local media, the Times of India on Monday mentioned both as well as the bad decision against Ponting. Even taking these into consideration the number of bad decisions is 9 for India and 3 for Australia. The appeal for stumping against Symonds was a clear example of bias. Every replay showed that his foot was in the air when the bails came off yet it was called not out. I agree this is not an insult to the nation. No argument there. However, the fact is that the match referee in this case has a history of showing a racial bias. He imposed a 5 match ban on Rashid Latif for claiming a bump ball but no action taken against Ponting, he pulled up Yuvi for dissent but Ponting escapes, he did not suspend Slater in Mumbai 2001 when he harrangued umpires. Other than the jingoism, I think that the coverage has been fairly balanced, India has been cheated out of a test win by the umpires. Comments?

  • wiserao on January 9, 2008, 5:31 GMT

    To criticize the media is pointless. Most people know that there is hype in the media, and make due allowance. The substantive issues are different. The Aussies have a history of mistreating opponents. A claim of racism from them is dubious, and there is reason to suspect that Harbhajan was set up. If Harbhajan used the m word, he also got lucky, nobody seems to have heard it except interested parties, and since Procter cannot be sure he exhibited arrogance, if not malice. That is bad. If Harbhajan did not use the word, he is beng unjustly vilified. Either way, the ban makes no sense. Anticipating this why did Ponting persist despite pleas from Indian players? It could be another attempt at mental disintegration, or to get Bhajji off his back, or just plain stupidity. Regardless, Indian players need to move Ponting and his team to some rationality and predictability in behavior, even if it means raising hte stakes. So this is like a greek tragedy, the bad engufing the good guys too.

  • Nonothing on January 9, 2008, 5:30 GMT

    Suresh Menon's comments are the most rational I have seen yet from the Indian perspective.The hysteria displayed by the Indian team and its management over the past few days has been unbelievable. Yes,the umpiring in the Sydney test was woeful. So,file a report. Harbhajan was always going to be able to play pending an appeal. So, lodge an appeal. Kumble thought Ponting and his team didn't play in the right spirit. So, take it up with Ponting, man to man. But don't carry on like immature school girls and threaten and blackmail the game and its governing body just because you can. Pathetic really.

  • Phantom2207 on January 9, 2008, 5:23 GMT

    Finally someone has the decency and courage to express the views that I suspect are held by the majority. Threatening to come home because of bad umpiring is a poor excuse and this article has hit the nail on the head .. excellent work

  • kadi on January 9, 2008, 5:20 GMT

    Suresh,

    There are some points that I belive you missed out completely. 1. About Ishant Sharma-- How can you judge that he wasted time by bringing 2 right hand gloves and acted like a school boy?? You know that he is 19 and also when he came 2 bat, there is lot of enthusiasm in everyone's mind. So, I think he being an inexperienced guy might have took the wrong one. That Comment isn't fair on him. 2. Another thing where the problem lies is, when someone's taking a decision without taking your word into notice at all and when someone says that we are not telling the truth, isn't it unfair?? and for that too shouldn't we react. 3. About you comparing Sachin's out and those not given not out for Australian batsmen, Can you compare one that is not that certain enough, ie., sachin is well forward and it hits in the line of middle and leg stump for a bowler who is bowling at that angle that it is missing the leg or might be more height?? and ones those are clearly noticedout by everyone

  • satish619chandar on January 9, 2008, 5:18 GMT

    Nice article. But i cant agree with u on whole. The media are blowing up the case too much using some jobless. But think of a match where one team is getting 10 rough decisions(Both batting and bowling). How is it possible to win or even to draw. Had the decisions been correct or as chetan mentioned, even half of them correct, we d ve won easily. We can accept wrong decisions on LBW or caught behind as umpires can not be perfect all the times. But the fact is the third unpire not giving correct decision and the umpire not referring a close decision to third umpire s not proper. Bucknor is 94 percent perfect. But his all other 6 percent is against India only. Finally, the way the aussies played the game in true spirit... Awesome spirit. If other teams too play in this spirit, they can never win a single test frm now. The thing is, we should suspend Ponting, Clarke and Symonds for tarnishing the image of the game... The captains agree to hold the fielders view believing they were true. Can u argue that the appeal made by Ponting and the catch of Clarke are clean. The match is not played in good spirit and the things that are happening now are only due to umpires and the aussies. The Indian players to have waited there for the things to remain has to be hailed for respecting the game and the governing bodies so much...

  • Blade1310 on January 9, 2008, 5:17 GMT

    Well said, Mr. Menon. I agree there has been too much focus on the politics and too little on the actual cricket. All the umpires cost us was a draw, which we could have achieved if the team had made better use of its skills & batted thorugh a few more overs.

    Most television channels are sensationalising it. It is an issue that needs to be dealt with, but in a quieter fashion. I hope Mr. Madugalle can achieve just that.

  • Dheepan on January 9, 2008, 5:06 GMT

    Nice article, but i want to add one thing.. 'Will australia do whatever India is doing if bad decisions had affected their result?'. Even though this match had a considerable number of wrong decisions in favour of OZs, India didn't show the effort to finish the match. They started well, but as many say "if you want to beat the aussies, you got to play your best cricket all the 5 days" and India lacked that. Lets hope for a better performance by Team India in Perth and stop with all the BS.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Dheepan on January 9, 2008, 5:06 GMT

    Nice article, but i want to add one thing.. 'Will australia do whatever India is doing if bad decisions had affected their result?'. Even though this match had a considerable number of wrong decisions in favour of OZs, India didn't show the effort to finish the match. They started well, but as many say "if you want to beat the aussies, you got to play your best cricket all the 5 days" and India lacked that. Lets hope for a better performance by Team India in Perth and stop with all the BS.

  • Blade1310 on January 9, 2008, 5:17 GMT

    Well said, Mr. Menon. I agree there has been too much focus on the politics and too little on the actual cricket. All the umpires cost us was a draw, which we could have achieved if the team had made better use of its skills & batted thorugh a few more overs.

    Most television channels are sensationalising it. It is an issue that needs to be dealt with, but in a quieter fashion. I hope Mr. Madugalle can achieve just that.

  • satish619chandar on January 9, 2008, 5:18 GMT

    Nice article. But i cant agree with u on whole. The media are blowing up the case too much using some jobless. But think of a match where one team is getting 10 rough decisions(Both batting and bowling). How is it possible to win or even to draw. Had the decisions been correct or as chetan mentioned, even half of them correct, we d ve won easily. We can accept wrong decisions on LBW or caught behind as umpires can not be perfect all the times. But the fact is the third unpire not giving correct decision and the umpire not referring a close decision to third umpire s not proper. Bucknor is 94 percent perfect. But his all other 6 percent is against India only. Finally, the way the aussies played the game in true spirit... Awesome spirit. If other teams too play in this spirit, they can never win a single test frm now. The thing is, we should suspend Ponting, Clarke and Symonds for tarnishing the image of the game... The captains agree to hold the fielders view believing they were true. Can u argue that the appeal made by Ponting and the catch of Clarke are clean. The match is not played in good spirit and the things that are happening now are only due to umpires and the aussies. The Indian players to have waited there for the things to remain has to be hailed for respecting the game and the governing bodies so much...

  • kadi on January 9, 2008, 5:20 GMT

    Suresh,

    There are some points that I belive you missed out completely. 1. About Ishant Sharma-- How can you judge that he wasted time by bringing 2 right hand gloves and acted like a school boy?? You know that he is 19 and also when he came 2 bat, there is lot of enthusiasm in everyone's mind. So, I think he being an inexperienced guy might have took the wrong one. That Comment isn't fair on him. 2. Another thing where the problem lies is, when someone's taking a decision without taking your word into notice at all and when someone says that we are not telling the truth, isn't it unfair?? and for that too shouldn't we react. 3. About you comparing Sachin's out and those not given not out for Australian batsmen, Can you compare one that is not that certain enough, ie., sachin is well forward and it hits in the line of middle and leg stump for a bowler who is bowling at that angle that it is missing the leg or might be more height?? and ones those are clearly noticedout by everyone

  • Phantom2207 on January 9, 2008, 5:23 GMT

    Finally someone has the decency and courage to express the views that I suspect are held by the majority. Threatening to come home because of bad umpiring is a poor excuse and this article has hit the nail on the head .. excellent work

  • Nonothing on January 9, 2008, 5:30 GMT

    Suresh Menon's comments are the most rational I have seen yet from the Indian perspective.The hysteria displayed by the Indian team and its management over the past few days has been unbelievable. Yes,the umpiring in the Sydney test was woeful. So,file a report. Harbhajan was always going to be able to play pending an appeal. So, lodge an appeal. Kumble thought Ponting and his team didn't play in the right spirit. So, take it up with Ponting, man to man. But don't carry on like immature school girls and threaten and blackmail the game and its governing body just because you can. Pathetic really.

  • wiserao on January 9, 2008, 5:31 GMT

    To criticize the media is pointless. Most people know that there is hype in the media, and make due allowance. The substantive issues are different. The Aussies have a history of mistreating opponents. A claim of racism from them is dubious, and there is reason to suspect that Harbhajan was set up. If Harbhajan used the m word, he also got lucky, nobody seems to have heard it except interested parties, and since Procter cannot be sure he exhibited arrogance, if not malice. That is bad. If Harbhajan did not use the word, he is beng unjustly vilified. Either way, the ban makes no sense. Anticipating this why did Ponting persist despite pleas from Indian players? It could be another attempt at mental disintegration, or to get Bhajji off his back, or just plain stupidity. Regardless, Indian players need to move Ponting and his team to some rationality and predictability in behavior, even if it means raising hte stakes. So this is like a greek tragedy, the bad engufing the good guys too.

  • Samwise67 on January 9, 2008, 5:37 GMT

    The writer is incorrect to suggest that the lbws for Sachin (and Laxman) were not referred to by the local media, the Times of India on Monday mentioned both as well as the bad decision against Ponting. Even taking these into consideration the number of bad decisions is 9 for India and 3 for Australia. The appeal for stumping against Symonds was a clear example of bias. Every replay showed that his foot was in the air when the bails came off yet it was called not out. I agree this is not an insult to the nation. No argument there. However, the fact is that the match referee in this case has a history of showing a racial bias. He imposed a 5 match ban on Rashid Latif for claiming a bump ball but no action taken against Ponting, he pulled up Yuvi for dissent but Ponting escapes, he did not suspend Slater in Mumbai 2001 when he harrangued umpires. Other than the jingoism, I think that the coverage has been fairly balanced, India has been cheated out of a test win by the umpires. Comments?

  • Sudar_shan on January 9, 2008, 5:39 GMT

    Excellent article, Suresh! You are the only sane voice from the rubbles of jingoism and fanaticsm.

    It is a pity that two wrongs are made a right. I don't want to be in the shoes of umpire Asif Raul standing in Perth. If he commits an error against one Indian player will that lead suspension of ties with Pakistan? Amidst all this, Yuvraj and Jaffer will be silently laughing as their performances have been sidelined with these bigger issues.

    It is a case of Absolute power corrupting absolutely. But, who will bell BCCI?

    It is good to hear from rational thinkers like you leaving aside the emotions. After all it is a game, isn't it?

  • Itchy on January 9, 2008, 5:59 GMT

    Having been at the SCG for two days and watched most of the rest on TV, I was left with the feeling that neither side was blameless in the "lack of sportsmanship" stakes although Australia probably lowered the tone the furthest, particularly with the celebrations at the end. Ridiculous appeals (both teams), lingering at the crease after being dismissed (Ponting and Ganguly), waiting for an umpires decision after being caught at first slip (Clarke), Harbhajan's absurd celebration after the Ponting dismissal all added to the flavour of the match. Both teams need to meet and agree to stop this rubbish now as this is what future matches deserve. Unfortunately this will probably never happen as Ponting does not think that Australia stepped over the line and, most likely, Kumble thinks the same of India.