January 31, 2008

Come together

India needs to stop acting like an aggrieved outsider and take up the responsibility that comes with power. Australia needs to understand that its teams are supposed to set an example. For the good of the game, the two have to find a common language
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India and Australia are cricket's powerhouses and they need to work as one for the good of the game © AFP

India and Australia have been going hard at each other for several years. It does not mean a thing. Eventually the warring parties will realise that all this sound and fury is insignificant beside their need to get along. Thereafter they will work towards finding a way forwards founded upon common understanding. After all, these are the two great cricketing nations of the world, the two countries that combine strength with an enduring love for the game, the powerhouses bound sooner or later to take over the show. They are rivals only on the field. Elsewhere they are partners and friends. Just that sometimes, in the hysteria, amidst the bellowing of the bulls, with the wild-eyed nationalists in a frenzy, they forget that they are on the same side.

For many years and in many ways Australia and India have followed a common path. First they had to free themselves from the patronage of the MCC and the old powers in London. Throughout its formative years, and far into its adulthood, cricket was directed by the same people, or their descendants, who seized control of it in the middle of the 19th century - the old guard who tried to keep the game as pure as homogenised milk. Although they hardly realised it, these complacent souls had old-fashioned views on many matters, including class and colour. Cricket has had plenty of rebels but precious few radicals.

Until the 1850s or so, the English game had two distinct threads: the professionals from Nottingham and the North who went around the country by train playing against local combinations for money, and the gentry from private schools who represented respectability. The professionals wanted to make a living from their craft in the same manner as silversmiths, lacemakers and so forth. Hereabouts skilled labour had started to assert itself. The gentlemen were the products of pulpits, headmasters, and a ruling class determined to retain its position and to bestow its convictions on every nook and cranny of a growing empire. Naturally, the gentlemen prevailed, not least because the professionals were inclined towards drink, besides which, a central authority and a county system were required. Even now workers are few and far between at the MCC, unless a new stand is being built.

For the next 120 years Lord's dominated the game - and not just its laws - right around the world. Every important international cricketing body met at "HQ". It was a conservative game. Cricket did not turn against white captains in the West Indies, or apartheid, till an overwhelming case had been presented elsewhere. After the second World War the cricket nations, most of which had fought with the Allied forces as members of the British Commonwealth, gained their independence and embarked upon, or resumed, lives as free nations. For a long time cricket was immune to changes felt in other sections of society. It was a poor game played by a small number of mostly impoverished peoples. Occasionally the game was shown on television but mostly it inhabited a separate world full of memories and sentiments. In India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, it was played mostly by the upper crust, a group fond of England and its ways.

Of course, cricket could not forever remain the same. Sooner or later, independent nations were bound to demand a share, not so much of the spoils as the decisions. Sooner or later, the days of patronage were bound to end. After all, the game was spreading with democracy and opportunity, and the middle class was growing in all the former colonies. Cricket had been taken up by a new generation that did not look towards London or anyone else with awed eyes; a generation proud of their country and colour and inclined to rely on their own wits; a generation that wanted and needed to make money. Meanwhile numerous books were produced, suggesting that some of the great men of the past were not gods but mere flesh and blood, including WG Grace, Wally Hammond, Ranjitsinhji and CB Fry. The era of the romantics was over. The emperor was not exactly naked, but he had been stripped to sometimes embarrassing essentials.

Among the other important cricket-playing nations, only one had consistently stood its own ground. The Australians had never been impressed with the class system or the old guard or walking or preachers or the English way. There was not much point going so far away merely to reproduce the past. Moreover, it was a harsh, raw continent, full of fires and droughts. Together the land and the history produced a breed of tough and direct men of independent disposition. Accordingly the Australians played by their own lights, displaying a singularity of outlook that made them hard to love and harder to beat. But then Australia had an entirely different story than any of its cricketing rivals. It had no aristocracy to work alongside. It went in cold.

The major change in the last few years has been that other nations have also broken away from acquired habits to assert their individuality and demand their rights. Unsurprisingly, India has been the most outspoken of these newly heard voices. None of the others was well enough placed to stand alone. India had the population and the power. And the money. Australia had met its match.

 
 
Sunil Gavaskar's influence was important. Beloved of his people and lauded as a batsman, he spoke out against the cosy assumptions of London, and for that matter, Melbourne. Gavaskar's weakness has been not that he led the protest, but that, having won the argument, he has not moved on
 

For a time the Indians merely made an occasional noise. Sunil Gavaskar's influence was important. Beloved of his people and lauded as a batsman, he spoke out against the cosy assumptions of London, and for that matter, Melbourne. Gavaskar's weakness has been not that he led the protest, but that, having won the argument, he has not moved on. India has become strong and has no need any longer to act like an outsider. Indeed it has a new responsibility.

And so the Australians and Indians stand tall as cricketing powerhouses. Australia has in recent months started to give some ground to international requirement by moving away from the confrontational approach instilled in numerous backyards, where the game is learned and a thousand friendly taunts are voiced. Hopefully the SCG Test will be remembered as the last instance of the unacceptable face of Australian cricket. Not that they alone crossed the line.

Ricky Ponting and his players had been sorely provoked not so much in Sydney as on their previous visit to India. Sensitivity works both ways. In the last decade India has gained wealth and prestige and its team is strong, intelligent, educated and proud. Whereas Arjuna Ranatunga was seizing the chance presented by leading an unusually gifted Sri Lankan outfit, Sourav Ganguly and his successors have been captaining a side able to take care of itself in any company and likely to remain competitive hereafter. India looks even the fearsome Australians in the eye. Before much more time has passed these nations will learn a common language that goes beyond cricket. Australia will understand that its backyards are unique and that admired sides are supposed to set an example. All the chest beating is passé: the conduct of a new nation eager to flex its muscles and proud of every triumph. India will see that it cannot over-react to every setback as if it were a conspiracy hatched in London and founded upon racist or patronising outlooks.

From the current confrontations will come mutual respect. Sreesanth will realise that he must play the game on his own terms, and that imitating an Australian does not work. The BCCI will stop fighting yesterday's battles and start thinking about tomorrow. Ponting and his replacement will understand that reputations are hard to change and that rudeness anywhere is intolerable.

In the end love of the game and mutual interest will outlast these disturbances. Ignore the turmoil. The fact remains that Brett Lee is immensely popular in India and Sachin Tendulkar is widely admired Down Under. Supporters have already taken the great leap. Now it is up to those directing cricket operations in both countries to anticipate and avoid conflict. Good manners are needed everywhere. It is time for tongues to stop wagging and ears to start working.

Peter Roebuck is a former captain of Somerset and the author, most recently, of In It to Win It.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • metlapally on February 1, 2008, 21:03 GMT

    The articles 'Come together' and 'What price justice' have been stimulating reading. However, this is only the case when these are read independently.

    And bring in the article 'Ponting must be sacked' after the Sydney test- I wonder 'what is Roebuck thinking/talking about' and it is about time he made up his mind.

  • PeterPan on February 1, 2008, 14:55 GMT

    Peter Roebuck is like a pendullum clock. One day he is trashing the Aussies, the next day he is trashing the Indians in a Oz newspaper. The third day he is asking them to get along. Not sure if he is infuriating the reading public and then trying to calm the them down.

  • AsifYoucare on February 1, 2008, 12:32 GMT

    Hi Peter,

    I don't think you'll be receiving a Christmas card from Ricky this year. Nor any interviews probably.

  • Bone on February 1, 2008, 12:29 GMT

    Why oh why do we insist on believing that there is such a thing as cricket etiquette? From the very beginning of Test cricket opposing teams have accused each other of not acting in accordance with the spirit of the game, the English inflicted on everyone but ignored when suited that tradition from day one. I'm not saying that it's all the English's fault but the game has never got passed the mentality that holds the opposition to a more stringent standard of behaviour than one's own team. The Aussies may be disliked by all and sundry in the cricketing world but it seems to me to be more about there ability to constantly win than anything else - every cricketer knows that you don't care whats said to you if you win.

    Contrary to popular belief Australia rarely complain to match officials but since the double standard that was applied with Lehmann and the in-action of the BCCI last October they are very intolerant of any suggestion of racism directed their way.

  • omki on February 1, 2008, 12:29 GMT

    i completely agree agree with PR's sentiments. End of the day, we all forget that cricket as a game is much much bigger than an individual's ego, irrespective of that individual belonging to any part of the world. To err is to human, i hope we all learn from the experiences of the past 1 month & avoid repeating the same mistake in future.

    thanks! loki

  • Steweee on February 1, 2008, 8:37 GMT

    So we finally get a reasonable article our of Peter Roebuck. All we need now is an apology from him for inflaming this unfortunate incident by ignoring the seriousness of the racism charge, the standing down of a respected umpire under pressure, and undercutting the Australian captain by calling for his job. Peter picked a remarkably poor time to impose a new improved standard of cricket ettiquette. The Aussie team's on field approach has been this way for years. Sledging has been in the game for decades. No I'm not an unwashed "nationalist" as Mr Roebuck paints anyone who disagrees with him. His message was overstated and ill-timed. There were bigger issues at play and he missed them.

  • Moreton-Bay-Bug on February 1, 2008, 2:12 GMT

    A brief note. I agree with PRs sentiments and believe that with time lasting bonds can be made. However I am shocked that people seem to be able to rationalise or sweep away the racial taunting of a black person by crowds and opposition players. The actions of an opponent can never justify this behaviour. Cricket does not need the appalling scenes seen in European Soccer where black players are greeted with monkey chants, banana throwing and similar disgusting insults by small sections of the crowds at some clubs. I am appalled that the influence of money by out of touch Indian administrators can be used to draw attention away from this hideous behaviour.

  • quasimodo on February 1, 2008, 1:24 GMT

    Peter Roebuck has done more to inflame the current situation than any one player or official, by unjustifiably calling the Australians a 'pack of wild dogs', and saying India should pack their bags and fly home. Do you still think India should leave? When asked whether racism was acceptable on the cricket field on ABC radio you responded with criticism of Andrew Symonds. It appears your basic position is that racism is OK if the perpetrator is not Australian. You refuse to criticise Kumble who also inflamed the situation. If he thought for a month he couldn't have come up with a graver insult to an Australian captain than 'there were two sides...'. And in response to Ponting's article clarifying his position, Kumble comes out in the papers attacking Michael Clarke's character in an unprecedented manner.

    I am the first to admit that Australian players are no angels, but the reporting on this issue in baggygreen has been wildly one sided and inflammatory. Give us a fair go please!!

  • rowdymp on February 1, 2008, 1:15 GMT

    Ricky Ponting is a great australian cricketer batsman and leader out on the field - a statesman however he is not.Unlike some of he's predecessors, Mark Taylor springs to mind, they had the capacity to look beyond the current events and be the diplomat if necessary for the greater good. Ponting strenghts are on the field, in battle and in defiance with he's teammates, who no doubt greatly respect and admire there leader for this. The Symonds/Harbajan saga has exposed a genuine weakness in he's leadership, bourne of a stubbornness to see "the bigger picture" and an unwillingness to approach a serious matter with the conciliatory attitude needed. The game goes on however, he will learn, as will others sometimes the hard way. As for Michael Clarke named as vc for one dayers, this is surely a victory of potential over substance. He has been like a deer in the headlights throughout this saga, and combined with he's questionable testimony ther must must be integrity questions answered!

  • indianfan928 on January 31, 2008, 16:01 GMT

    I have been reading a lot of press on this incident and also read the transcript of the judicial hearing. I find it perplexing that the Australians are positioning themselves as the victims here. Has anyone questioned why Symonds chose to break his mutual agreement with Harbhajan? And what does his comment that "there is no place for friendship in test cricket" say about his attitude towards the game and his opponents? While I do not condone racism, is it not appropriate to ask whether Symonds should also be fined or at least censured for his lack of judgment? I fully support the actions of the BCCI and the Indian players after this incident. In a tightly contested series like this one, the team needs to stick together, especially when provoked in such a unilateral way. Harbhajan is a professional and as such should show more restraint. He has been duly fined. However, perhaps he is not the only one who needed to be censured. I hope the Indians use this to spur themselves in the ODIs.

  • metlapally on February 1, 2008, 21:03 GMT

    The articles 'Come together' and 'What price justice' have been stimulating reading. However, this is only the case when these are read independently.

    And bring in the article 'Ponting must be sacked' after the Sydney test- I wonder 'what is Roebuck thinking/talking about' and it is about time he made up his mind.

  • PeterPan on February 1, 2008, 14:55 GMT

    Peter Roebuck is like a pendullum clock. One day he is trashing the Aussies, the next day he is trashing the Indians in a Oz newspaper. The third day he is asking them to get along. Not sure if he is infuriating the reading public and then trying to calm the them down.

  • AsifYoucare on February 1, 2008, 12:32 GMT

    Hi Peter,

    I don't think you'll be receiving a Christmas card from Ricky this year. Nor any interviews probably.

  • Bone on February 1, 2008, 12:29 GMT

    Why oh why do we insist on believing that there is such a thing as cricket etiquette? From the very beginning of Test cricket opposing teams have accused each other of not acting in accordance with the spirit of the game, the English inflicted on everyone but ignored when suited that tradition from day one. I'm not saying that it's all the English's fault but the game has never got passed the mentality that holds the opposition to a more stringent standard of behaviour than one's own team. The Aussies may be disliked by all and sundry in the cricketing world but it seems to me to be more about there ability to constantly win than anything else - every cricketer knows that you don't care whats said to you if you win.

    Contrary to popular belief Australia rarely complain to match officials but since the double standard that was applied with Lehmann and the in-action of the BCCI last October they are very intolerant of any suggestion of racism directed their way.

  • omki on February 1, 2008, 12:29 GMT

    i completely agree agree with PR's sentiments. End of the day, we all forget that cricket as a game is much much bigger than an individual's ego, irrespective of that individual belonging to any part of the world. To err is to human, i hope we all learn from the experiences of the past 1 month & avoid repeating the same mistake in future.

    thanks! loki

  • Steweee on February 1, 2008, 8:37 GMT

    So we finally get a reasonable article our of Peter Roebuck. All we need now is an apology from him for inflaming this unfortunate incident by ignoring the seriousness of the racism charge, the standing down of a respected umpire under pressure, and undercutting the Australian captain by calling for his job. Peter picked a remarkably poor time to impose a new improved standard of cricket ettiquette. The Aussie team's on field approach has been this way for years. Sledging has been in the game for decades. No I'm not an unwashed "nationalist" as Mr Roebuck paints anyone who disagrees with him. His message was overstated and ill-timed. There were bigger issues at play and he missed them.

  • Moreton-Bay-Bug on February 1, 2008, 2:12 GMT

    A brief note. I agree with PRs sentiments and believe that with time lasting bonds can be made. However I am shocked that people seem to be able to rationalise or sweep away the racial taunting of a black person by crowds and opposition players. The actions of an opponent can never justify this behaviour. Cricket does not need the appalling scenes seen in European Soccer where black players are greeted with monkey chants, banana throwing and similar disgusting insults by small sections of the crowds at some clubs. I am appalled that the influence of money by out of touch Indian administrators can be used to draw attention away from this hideous behaviour.

  • quasimodo on February 1, 2008, 1:24 GMT

    Peter Roebuck has done more to inflame the current situation than any one player or official, by unjustifiably calling the Australians a 'pack of wild dogs', and saying India should pack their bags and fly home. Do you still think India should leave? When asked whether racism was acceptable on the cricket field on ABC radio you responded with criticism of Andrew Symonds. It appears your basic position is that racism is OK if the perpetrator is not Australian. You refuse to criticise Kumble who also inflamed the situation. If he thought for a month he couldn't have come up with a graver insult to an Australian captain than 'there were two sides...'. And in response to Ponting's article clarifying his position, Kumble comes out in the papers attacking Michael Clarke's character in an unprecedented manner.

    I am the first to admit that Australian players are no angels, but the reporting on this issue in baggygreen has been wildly one sided and inflammatory. Give us a fair go please!!

  • rowdymp on February 1, 2008, 1:15 GMT

    Ricky Ponting is a great australian cricketer batsman and leader out on the field - a statesman however he is not.Unlike some of he's predecessors, Mark Taylor springs to mind, they had the capacity to look beyond the current events and be the diplomat if necessary for the greater good. Ponting strenghts are on the field, in battle and in defiance with he's teammates, who no doubt greatly respect and admire there leader for this. The Symonds/Harbajan saga has exposed a genuine weakness in he's leadership, bourne of a stubbornness to see "the bigger picture" and an unwillingness to approach a serious matter with the conciliatory attitude needed. The game goes on however, he will learn, as will others sometimes the hard way. As for Michael Clarke named as vc for one dayers, this is surely a victory of potential over substance. He has been like a deer in the headlights throughout this saga, and combined with he's questionable testimony ther must must be integrity questions answered!

  • indianfan928 on January 31, 2008, 16:01 GMT

    I have been reading a lot of press on this incident and also read the transcript of the judicial hearing. I find it perplexing that the Australians are positioning themselves as the victims here. Has anyone questioned why Symonds chose to break his mutual agreement with Harbhajan? And what does his comment that "there is no place for friendship in test cricket" say about his attitude towards the game and his opponents? While I do not condone racism, is it not appropriate to ask whether Symonds should also be fined or at least censured for his lack of judgment? I fully support the actions of the BCCI and the Indian players after this incident. In a tightly contested series like this one, the team needs to stick together, especially when provoked in such a unilateral way. Harbhajan is a professional and as such should show more restraint. He has been duly fined. However, perhaps he is not the only one who needed to be censured. I hope the Indians use this to spur themselves in the ODIs.

  • pankajkumarsingh on January 31, 2008, 15:59 GMT

    Ok, this is interesting. After finally reading the final transcript I found out that Mr. Symonds was actually first to use the abusive word. The vulgarity of language used by Harbhajan was same as used by Symonds. One wonders if he would also be imposed 50% of his match fees.

  • IdleBanter on January 31, 2008, 15:35 GMT

    Sport is a way in which civilized nations go to war!( i wonder who first made that comment - probably me? )Anyway, while I do agree with Peter on the fact that India & Australia need to be friends, one has to take into account what it means to play competitive sport at the highest level - it is the same as going to war, but,all your soldiers come back home alive. Things are said and sometimes done in the heat of the moment that one cannot take back, but,it is best sorted out on the field rather than taking it off the playing field & letting a bunch of lawyers, bureaucrats and BOZOS from the parent bodies get their teeth into. For this I believe that we need some strong & well respected umpires who can take decisions on the field while commanding the respect of both Warring parties.Dicky Bird, David Shepherd are some of the names that come to my mind...

  • satyakam on January 31, 2008, 15:22 GMT

    What the writer singularly fails to understand (or rather fails to acknowledge) is the fact that India is not first among equals in cricket fraternity but alone at the top. And it is actually not a bad thing. Indians are one of the most fair minded public (Barrring few radicals, off course). They react, in rage, only when pushed to corner. And when pushed to corner, the Indians can and will roar everytime. If it means bullying to remove an Incompetent umpire or overturning a grossly unfair judgment of match referee, then so be it. But the justice must prevail. In larger terms, it means that if the existing world order doesn't ensure justice then Indians will change the world order of their own choosing. They can, because they have means as well as the will.

  • swift on January 31, 2008, 14:59 GMT

    I am an Australian of Welsh parentage practicing law in Massachusetts. I have been away from Aust for 15 years. I have experienced a cross section of the cultural reference points Peter roebuck conjures in his latest article. All I can say is that he is 100% spot on, yet again. I have been reading Roebuck since he chamioned a young and not universally popular Steve Waugh. why? because Steve was from Bankstown and I played high school cricket against him. I was one of the many who lasted a couple of balls of his leg cutters on coir matting. Steve was the kind of cricketer I would have been if I could have been. Anyhow, Mr. Roebuck has perfectly analysed the strengths and weaknesses of the two countries, Aust and Ind, and if both teams were made to sit down and read his article just before play of their next game, they, and we, would all be better off for it.

    Regards and Long Live Cricket.

    Richard Thomas Davies, Esq.

  • kumars on January 31, 2008, 14:58 GMT

    I totally agree with Peter Roebuck that with leadership comes responsibility. And for some jingoistic sections of the press and fanatics it has been a field day.

    1) Symonds should be able to show in other prudent ways that he is more Australian then taking the match as a war. An innocent little incident of Harbhajan patting at the back of Lee ballooned into this level.

    2) Australia are desparate to offload the racist tag that they have since that infamous Lehmann incident.

  • Nampally on January 31, 2008, 14:34 GMT

    Thanks for a great realistic article Peter. Australia is a great cricketing nation and they play hard. The best predictor of future expectation is the past behaviour. It is well known that Aussies have bullied almost every team with the past. However one basic fact appears to be missing in the Aussie training - Cricketing Ettiquette. Young Aussies should be taught this from their school days. This has been the main reason for "Sledging". Some writers have summed up the Aussie behaviour as "Filth on the field and beer after game". Indian attitude in the past has always humble and couteous. But once Aussies start their bullying, India has also changed their attitude and tried to compete with Aussies in "Sledging". Symonds was the instigator of the much publicised Harbhajan incident. While Symmonds is totally exonnerated Harbhajan is made the scapegoat. If they penalise, both should be. Since no one heard what went on field, the issue should be dropped. Sportsmanship is tolerance.

  • S_Sen on January 31, 2008, 14:01 GMT

    Noble sentiments. But as long as Symonds and his pals insist that a Test match has no room for friendly gestures, and continue to behave like schoolyard bullies, incidents like the Harbhajan affair will always be one retort (possibly misheard) away. What a disgusting, forgettable series this has been.

  • jeev on January 31, 2008, 13:49 GMT

    The only way to embarrass those who call someone monkey is not to behave like one. Only way to prove one didn't bad mouth is to keep clean record moving forward. Both team must move on. I believe who Australia learned a big lesson this time, specially Ponting and to teach them this lesson, India didn't need to throw dirt using its own hand which eventually make your hand dirty too.

  • moderate on January 31, 2008, 13:40 GMT

    I fail to understand why is Mr. Ponting is hell bent on proving his point. Instead of allowing things to cool off and move on he is going on and on to castasize everyone from the judge to his own past cricketers (no one listens to forgot the name ...), CA, BCCI etc. Its high time he shuts his mouth and concentrate on the game which is larger that the cricketers instead of proving that he and Mr. Symonds are saints and everyone else is a devil. If he is so agrieved by the judgement, let him istruct he team mates to show solidatity by not endoresing any india products and/or participating in the Indian league. Breet Lee is quite not uttered a word, Gilcrist is quite too and so are some other Australian cricketers Why? Indian and Autralian have always been freinds on and off the field-Mr. Ponting and Symonds should not be allowed to destroy it. If Harbajan is guilty one of these days he will face the music again cos he may shoot his mouth again and then he will have no support.

  • AThomas on January 31, 2008, 12:38 GMT

    Not just in cricket, but is any facet of life, one is respected when one can demand it based on one's strength. Ozzies to date had decided that they would as a policy be the tough kid on the cricketing block. They've had a free reign doing it thus far. With this series, the tough kid got his teeth kicked in and got paid in his own penny! Understandably it is a very tough experience. Any attitude adjustment is tough. But, welcome to the new, real world where India sits at the head. India is within its rights to do whatever is necessary to protect its interests, just as much as the Ozzies and all other cricketing nations are.

  • surnell on January 31, 2008, 12:35 GMT

    India and Australia to remain friends, while an Symonds claims that there are no friends on the cricket field. Hope Mr. Roebuck has gone through the judgement where it had nothing to do with money (even if it were) - justice seem to have been done - clearly outlined and argued piece of judgement - so let us stop talking about the money power any more. Stump microphone as an evidence seem to have worked against the very people who sought to use it. Hear them out and you would know any other judgement in this case would have been grossly unfair. Ponting the saint coercing the umpire (Oh yes! he also was the 4th umpire of the match) and let these guys stop this chest beating. As I said earlier, if suspension were to be handed out for on-field misdemeanours, Australian would have run out of their bench strength twice over and except for a couple of people in the current team they would find it difficult to assemble a team.

  • Skitto on January 31, 2008, 12:26 GMT

    Whodounit - the Test Captains of India and Australia agreed that racist comments would not be swept under the carpet but reported to the authorities to deal with. Racism is a global disgrace and offenders must be dealt with strongly.

    Sumit - Umpires should not choose to ignore things said by players just because you think they are proven trouble-makers. If you compare the records of Symonds and Harbijan you'll see that one of them has an extensive history of ill-discipline and abuse and the other one doesn't.

    DrAlex - the bullies were the ones who said that if the independent review doesn't agree with us then we won't play. If they can't abide by the umpires decision then they shouldn't be in the game. (But I guess that was the issue in the first place.)

    I wonder what plans the BCCI will put in place to ensure that there isn't a repeat of the monkey chants fiasco when Australia tours later in the year. Somehow I don't think their antiracism policy is going to have much bite.

  • jarydd on January 31, 2008, 12:18 GMT

    for all you people pointing out that ponting and co should learn a lesson etc etc etc blah blah blah, i trust you saw the way dinesh kartik acted in adelaide. Spitting? Not very gentlemanlike at all. If you're throwing stones, add Harbajan, Sreesnath and Kartik to the cue. i am getting more and more bewildered at the amount of hypocrisy being shown over all of this. by the way, I must commend Peter Roebuck on an excellent piece.

  • fanatical on January 31, 2008, 11:57 GMT

    That has to be the most sensible write up that i have read since this whole affair has occurred. Thankyou Mr Roebuck. I'm just sorry it has taken so long for anybody to come up with a statement that recognizes that "It takes two to tango". Even Mr Roebuck's earlier columns seemed to accuse the Australian team of being the only aggressor in this unfortunate affair.As far as the politics behind how this has been resolved, I guess the public may never truely know. But I feel that all ethnic cultures in any sport, should be sensitive to what another may find offensive and/or consider racist.

  • PeteB on January 31, 2008, 11:40 GMT

    This whole issue has been a beatup and an excuse for nationalist tub thumping. One thing is clear. Neither the Indians nor Australians will take a backward step. India need to prove that they not only control cricket's pursestrings but can become the best team in the world. Controlling cricket is easy, it requires nought more than money.

    But to be world champions India will constantly have to prove themselves to their public in every game of cricket they play. They've done it in Twenty20 (and will again have to this coming Friday), but not in ODI or test cricket. The public & media will not accept any less than results. Excuses cannot be constantly relied upon to assuage a demanding public. All the filibusteringing of the last month aside, can they do this, both home and, importantly, away? If they can do what Australia have done for quite a few years now then they will receive the respect (or if you like - envy, hatred) that Australia have justly earned and continue to earn.

  • livespaces on January 31, 2008, 11:27 GMT

    Every one now seems to be equating the indian player behavior with that of the Australian players, where as the Australians are in the business of "mental disintegration" for more than a decade the indians are only standing up to it and giving it back recently.Any one pointing fingers at the indian player behavior needs to look at the records and explain why the Aaustralians were fined very few times in the last 15 years in spite of having the worst player behavior in the name of gamesmanship, which is now aknowledged the world over.Talking about money power of BCCI one will do well to remember that when one is fighting for justice it is not wrong to use money.But it shows the ICC in poor light if it accepts the allegation that BCCI armtwited the whole affair with their money power.Irrespective of Money, race, nation and region the ICC should look at giving level playing field to all the cricket playing nations and stop reacting 'The old British way'.

  • srinikp on January 31, 2008, 10:48 GMT

    The talk about having world peace is fine. What is getting missed out is the unncessary chatter on the field. If you look back at the Sydney test match; Harbhajan patted Brett Lee on a good delivery. Lee would have objected to Harbhajan, if there was something offensive about it. No, we have Symonds, the upholder of Aussie dignity entering and giving an unnecessary mouthful. The ICC needs to understand that sledging is completely unnecessary. Let the bat and the ball do the talking. Impose penalties on any kind of sledging. The game,automatically will be much more competetive and to the point.

  • Ravana on January 31, 2008, 10:40 GMT

    I love cricket. I was a huge fan of the Windies team of the 70's and 80's. Boy! How cricket has changed since then! Money... power... so called "competitiveness" which actually is turning out be more like war than cricket... a game played by gentlemen!

    I am no fan of the current Aussie team when it comes to on-field behaviour! But hey... these days some Indian players are not the greatest examples either! Its really sad to see things that are happening these days on the cricket field!

    I for one have changed from someone who watched every balls bowled in a test match to someone who merely checks the score on cricinfo / news paper! Its a matter of time before I stop doing that if things go the way they are...

  • pr3m on January 31, 2008, 9:53 GMT

    to tripleh86 "It is easy to do so when most of the money to lose is on the CA side of things. If i were the BCCI i would be very wary of how their crowds behave in october later this year because if a repeat of the recent one day series occurs then CA should threaten to cancel the tour and see how the BCCi reacts when the shoe is on the other foot. I guarantee they have a lot more to lose with a cancelled tour over there, considering TV rights etc then we do here"

    trust me, if CA pulled out for crowd reasons, they'll b boycotted by the world. dont u remember South african players complainin of racism from the stands down under? & that wasnt the first instance of this happenin in australia either. plus, trust me, the bcci can afford a lil loss like 60 odd million dollars if need b. we do run 70% of cricket, remember?

  • AlokJoshi on January 31, 2008, 9:44 GMT

    I agree with Peter that the Big 2 must Come Together to take cricket forward. India and Australia have been involved in good cricket on the field and have got into a needless mudslinging match off it - get over with it. The award given by Hansen has greater legal sanctity: award by the misinformed match referee was erroneous as it was bereft of evidence. Yet it cannot be the biggest challenge or crisis facing world cricket. The key concern is that cricket has not been turned into a true global and competitive sport. ICC must act now and act fast. The game needs changes to make it appealing. For instance, why cannot we: use replays like in tennis; allow for substitutes which most team sports do; break the deadlock in a drawn test match by, say, a bowl out. There is a lot to be addressed than worrying about the Big 2 if future of cricket has to be bolstered. It could be that only these two teams remain competitive in years to come, and that will be very sad for the game.

  • jcferns on January 31, 2008, 9:31 GMT

    Perfect term Peter Roebuck , nice article, no wonder why Bret lee and Gilchrist have much more fans outside Australia. Infact when Gilchrist announced his retirement there was sadness and great respect for his decision in Indian fans.

    I think other Aussie players should learn from Gilchrist and Bretlee, cos its not just cricket ... but much more then cricket which makes a non Australian a die hard fan of Adam Gilchrist.

    From and Indian a Die Hard Fan of Adam Gilchrist

  • lestokes on January 31, 2008, 9:30 GMT

    It's funny how some in other forums seem to disagree with Peter's comments, namely Ponting and a few other clueless people. The fact of the matter is that i don't think half the time Ponting has any clue of what Roebuck is actually writing about. I dont think that Hansen has flexed any rules, he was merly acting as any judge would make his deliberations, just as a judge would come to a decison for any other case, it is a shame that Cricket Australia can't see this. Any way i think that it was Symonds who incited this ridiculous hands in the air performance, i mean what is wrong with congragulating another opponent on a well bowled yorker - quite extrodinary really. But then again australian cricketers have always had a bit of an attitdude problem, so perhaps there is an inheriant problem with australian cricketers...it is about time they hardern up, and accept the fact that their supremecy is 'up' and they can nolonger be the employ their bully tactics they thought could last forever.

  • RedRascal on January 31, 2008, 9:22 GMT

    I do think that though India might have the money, it still does not have any official power within the set up, it is just a member country of the ICC. What it has is good support from some other teams. In the 1960's 70's 80's & 90's Australia was a part of the Hegemony with veto powers, India still does not have that. So this attempt to show Australia as a fellow fighter against the ICC cuts no ice. And where BCCI have got involved has always been when injustice has been done, as was done by Proctor and as was done by Dennes. (Do we know of any other team in the world having had up to that date 6 player charged and given sentences ?) No one white screamed about ICC being used to further individual countries when Australia arm twisted the ICC into allowing it to get away without playing World Cup matches in Sri Lanka. Having set the precedent of Arm twisting the ICC, Aussies should not complain about India without first acknowledging that they have set precedents in this matter

  • samaga on January 31, 2008, 9:22 GMT

    The greatest thing the Judge Hansen has done is not to have condoned the Aussie behaviour.Unfortunately,the Oz press has found it convenient to ignore that portion of the judgement. What is amazing is the fact the Ponting calls the PM of Australia and the great Australian batsmen, Sir Neil Harvey as being old fashioned just because they asked the Aussie team to tone down their behaviour.I think the buck stops with Ponting on future conduct of the Aussie team.

  • sid_red on January 31, 2008, 9:19 GMT

    A good article for everyone to read and finally get over this whole sordid affair!! Good Job Peter. I did not agree with your (confused at times) views in your previous article after the judgment, but this article more than makes up for it.

    Ohh..one more thing. In my opinion, the lions share of the credit of India becoming such a cricketing powerhouse should go to Kapil Dev (pretty ironic considering that now he is part of the rebel league). Kapil's Devils victory over the Windies in the 1983 WC pretty much made India the cricket crazy (and wealthy) nation it is now. Gavaskar played a huge role in the development of Indian cricket, but as far as the riches that BCCI enjoys now, its all due to the heroics of Kapil and his Devils!!

  • subroto on January 31, 2008, 9:12 GMT

    We cannot just brush this sad episode aside unless important lessons are learnt. No matter how the Australians have learnt their cricket in their 'back yard' they should realize how sledging deeply affects the opposition. They have the dubious reputation of legitimising sledging as opposing teams were complelled to retaliate. They are a great team and they do not need 'mental disintegration' to establish their superiority. And BCCI should realize that they can remain a powerhouse only if the billions of supporters in India and abroad remain faithful to their passion for the game. I admire the Indian team because of what it has achieved through the years purely on the basis of talent,team spirit and exemplary conduct despite provocation. As the five greats retire, they have to perform consistently as a great team,like the Australians. Only then will the passion remain burning. Counter sledging and bad performance will disillusion supporters and BBCI will not be counting its thrillions.

  • phodu manager on January 31, 2008, 8:20 GMT

    I am a great fan of Peter Roebuck, having read his articles on cricinfo and The Hindu. I completely agree with him that both teams are powerhouses of cricket and need to behave responsibly. The on-field rivalry is admirable but they should be united off-field for the greater interest of cricket.We in India have always loved most of the Australian players, be it Steve Waugh or Brett Lee. People want good cricket, not the battles the boards are waging. I hope concerned officials will understand this and we will witness some great moments when Sachin and Lee confront each other in CB series!!!!

  • SumitBhardwaj on January 31, 2008, 7:12 GMT

    It is amazing to read how everyone is talking about the way BCCI flexed its financial muscles. Completely overlooked in this brouhaha are the following facts:

    a) The stump mikes have only captured what Symonds and others have said. Honestly it looks like it was a setup with "honest gospels" Clark, Symonds, Hayden and Ricky all involved in it b) Why is Ricky literally coercing the umpire to talk to Bhajji? Is Benson's unwillingness to talk to Bhajji not indicative of the fact that he DID NOT HEAR anything or did not deem the ongoing war of words between two "proven" trouble makers worthy of his intervention. c) Later the same Mr Ponting was seen making a decision for the on-field umpire in Saurav's case. d) What was the need for Symonds to interfere when Brett Lee was being complimented by Bhajji on his good bowling. And then to come up with that stupid little argument that there are no friends on a pitch. Agreed, but it takes a strong and mature player to praise his opponent.

  • Dr.AlexKuruvila on January 31, 2008, 7:10 GMT

    Mr. Roebuck, you sound rather conciliatory in this article! Fact remains that the bullies are almost never liked by anyone, and the Aussies have missed a trick or two in this respect. They had plenty of chances in the past decade to remedy their "big bully" tactics, but they chose to ignore this simple fact. Time to move on and let us hope that the lessons learned in Sydney are not soon forgotten.

  • Percy_Fender on January 31, 2008, 7:07 GMT

    Roebuck's latest article calling for a return to sanity was welcome.It is worth mentioning that but for what happened in Australia over the last month world cricket would have been much the same. Of Australian hegemony in the game,and more importantly, with the ICC, and its elite panel of umpires.To that extent even if it needed some percieved muscle flexing to achieve it, I think the cricketing world will welcome the change. Of a gentleman's game being restored to it's real identity in which personal abuse never had a place. The Australian philosophy of playing "hard cricket" has been dismantled in public. So much so that even their Prime Minister's has called for their players to be reined in. It is surprising though that it has taken so long in coming. It is indeed time for cricketers the world over to ' Come Together ' and play the game as it was meant to be played. If the allusion that India used it's economic status to achieve this is true, we must stand back and applaud the BCCI

  • whodounit on January 31, 2008, 6:07 GMT

    Never mind Hansen's judgement has been overlooked by Mr. Roebuck. Its not the BCCI who threatened to pull out the Indian Team did! The BCCI was between a rock(team) and a hard place(the fans).

    Hope better sense prevails on the cricket field and from both sides. Fans want to see good cricket. Its not the Boards who are responsible for this mess. The players are. In this case the Aussie team. One can criticise the Boards or the ICC till the cows come home on how they handle these issues. Problems like these originate on the field and they should be stopped there. Only the players can do that. The team captains should rein in players who croos the line and not join them in their antics.

  • tripleh86 on January 31, 2008, 5:47 GMT

    I 100% with what you are saying in terms of players getting along. However, i beleive that most of the time the players do get along and it goes way beyond that now with the BCCIs actions throughout the summer. It has gone from a dispute between to cricketing teams to an international cricket crisis because of the BCCI decision to hold CA and the tour at ransom. It is easy to do so when most of the money to lose is on the CA side of things. If i were the BCCI i would be very wary of how their crowds behave in october later this year because if a repeat of the recent one day series occurs then CA should threaten to cancel the tour and see how the BCCi reacts when the shoe is on the other foot. I guarantee they have a lot more to lose with a cancelled tour over there, considering TV rights etc then we do here

  • aditya87 on January 31, 2008, 5:11 GMT

    It's true that India and Australia should remain friends. In Test cricket, just going by numbers, this is developing into cricket's greatest rivalry. In the last 15 Tests between these two countries, there have been 5 matches won by India, 6 by Australia, and 4 have been draws. That's a pretty even contest, something not even England have matched in recent years.

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  • aditya87 on January 31, 2008, 5:11 GMT

    It's true that India and Australia should remain friends. In Test cricket, just going by numbers, this is developing into cricket's greatest rivalry. In the last 15 Tests between these two countries, there have been 5 matches won by India, 6 by Australia, and 4 have been draws. That's a pretty even contest, something not even England have matched in recent years.

  • tripleh86 on January 31, 2008, 5:47 GMT

    I 100% with what you are saying in terms of players getting along. However, i beleive that most of the time the players do get along and it goes way beyond that now with the BCCIs actions throughout the summer. It has gone from a dispute between to cricketing teams to an international cricket crisis because of the BCCI decision to hold CA and the tour at ransom. It is easy to do so when most of the money to lose is on the CA side of things. If i were the BCCI i would be very wary of how their crowds behave in october later this year because if a repeat of the recent one day series occurs then CA should threaten to cancel the tour and see how the BCCi reacts when the shoe is on the other foot. I guarantee they have a lot more to lose with a cancelled tour over there, considering TV rights etc then we do here

  • whodounit on January 31, 2008, 6:07 GMT

    Never mind Hansen's judgement has been overlooked by Mr. Roebuck. Its not the BCCI who threatened to pull out the Indian Team did! The BCCI was between a rock(team) and a hard place(the fans).

    Hope better sense prevails on the cricket field and from both sides. Fans want to see good cricket. Its not the Boards who are responsible for this mess. The players are. In this case the Aussie team. One can criticise the Boards or the ICC till the cows come home on how they handle these issues. Problems like these originate on the field and they should be stopped there. Only the players can do that. The team captains should rein in players who croos the line and not join them in their antics.

  • Percy_Fender on January 31, 2008, 7:07 GMT

    Roebuck's latest article calling for a return to sanity was welcome.It is worth mentioning that but for what happened in Australia over the last month world cricket would have been much the same. Of Australian hegemony in the game,and more importantly, with the ICC, and its elite panel of umpires.To that extent even if it needed some percieved muscle flexing to achieve it, I think the cricketing world will welcome the change. Of a gentleman's game being restored to it's real identity in which personal abuse never had a place. The Australian philosophy of playing "hard cricket" has been dismantled in public. So much so that even their Prime Minister's has called for their players to be reined in. It is surprising though that it has taken so long in coming. It is indeed time for cricketers the world over to ' Come Together ' and play the game as it was meant to be played. If the allusion that India used it's economic status to achieve this is true, we must stand back and applaud the BCCI

  • Dr.AlexKuruvila on January 31, 2008, 7:10 GMT

    Mr. Roebuck, you sound rather conciliatory in this article! Fact remains that the bullies are almost never liked by anyone, and the Aussies have missed a trick or two in this respect. They had plenty of chances in the past decade to remedy their "big bully" tactics, but they chose to ignore this simple fact. Time to move on and let us hope that the lessons learned in Sydney are not soon forgotten.

  • SumitBhardwaj on January 31, 2008, 7:12 GMT

    It is amazing to read how everyone is talking about the way BCCI flexed its financial muscles. Completely overlooked in this brouhaha are the following facts:

    a) The stump mikes have only captured what Symonds and others have said. Honestly it looks like it was a setup with "honest gospels" Clark, Symonds, Hayden and Ricky all involved in it b) Why is Ricky literally coercing the umpire to talk to Bhajji? Is Benson's unwillingness to talk to Bhajji not indicative of the fact that he DID NOT HEAR anything or did not deem the ongoing war of words between two "proven" trouble makers worthy of his intervention. c) Later the same Mr Ponting was seen making a decision for the on-field umpire in Saurav's case. d) What was the need for Symonds to interfere when Brett Lee was being complimented by Bhajji on his good bowling. And then to come up with that stupid little argument that there are no friends on a pitch. Agreed, but it takes a strong and mature player to praise his opponent.

  • phodu manager on January 31, 2008, 8:20 GMT

    I am a great fan of Peter Roebuck, having read his articles on cricinfo and The Hindu. I completely agree with him that both teams are powerhouses of cricket and need to behave responsibly. The on-field rivalry is admirable but they should be united off-field for the greater interest of cricket.We in India have always loved most of the Australian players, be it Steve Waugh or Brett Lee. People want good cricket, not the battles the boards are waging. I hope concerned officials will understand this and we will witness some great moments when Sachin and Lee confront each other in CB series!!!!

  • subroto on January 31, 2008, 9:12 GMT

    We cannot just brush this sad episode aside unless important lessons are learnt. No matter how the Australians have learnt their cricket in their 'back yard' they should realize how sledging deeply affects the opposition. They have the dubious reputation of legitimising sledging as opposing teams were complelled to retaliate. They are a great team and they do not need 'mental disintegration' to establish their superiority. And BCCI should realize that they can remain a powerhouse only if the billions of supporters in India and abroad remain faithful to their passion for the game. I admire the Indian team because of what it has achieved through the years purely on the basis of talent,team spirit and exemplary conduct despite provocation. As the five greats retire, they have to perform consistently as a great team,like the Australians. Only then will the passion remain burning. Counter sledging and bad performance will disillusion supporters and BBCI will not be counting its thrillions.

  • sid_red on January 31, 2008, 9:19 GMT

    A good article for everyone to read and finally get over this whole sordid affair!! Good Job Peter. I did not agree with your (confused at times) views in your previous article after the judgment, but this article more than makes up for it.

    Ohh..one more thing. In my opinion, the lions share of the credit of India becoming such a cricketing powerhouse should go to Kapil Dev (pretty ironic considering that now he is part of the rebel league). Kapil's Devils victory over the Windies in the 1983 WC pretty much made India the cricket crazy (and wealthy) nation it is now. Gavaskar played a huge role in the development of Indian cricket, but as far as the riches that BCCI enjoys now, its all due to the heroics of Kapil and his Devils!!

  • samaga on January 31, 2008, 9:22 GMT

    The greatest thing the Judge Hansen has done is not to have condoned the Aussie behaviour.Unfortunately,the Oz press has found it convenient to ignore that portion of the judgement. What is amazing is the fact the Ponting calls the PM of Australia and the great Australian batsmen, Sir Neil Harvey as being old fashioned just because they asked the Aussie team to tone down their behaviour.I think the buck stops with Ponting on future conduct of the Aussie team.