The Harbhajan-Sreesanth spat April 27, 2008

A time bomb waiting to go off

To anyone who has followed Indian cricket in the past few months, Friday night's incident was inevitable
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Sleeping through the static: Sreesanth's one virtue, if it can be called that, is his ability to get away © AFP
 

For too long now, the two protagonists at the centre of the Friday Night Farce have been careening towards a head-on collision - if not with each other, then with anyone standing in their way. For too long, the men in charge of them have either looked away or handled them with kid gloves. For too long, Indian cricket has protested, in almost every recent controversy - and there have been several - that it is more sinned against than sinner, that the real villain was always an Australian or South African or A N Other.

On Friday night it all came home to roost in scenes that were at the same time embarrassing, ludicrous, laughable, ominous - but not surprising. The Indian Premier League's first spat was not between Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds or Matthew Hayden, it was Indian against Indian. And, as Sreesanth blubbered in the manner of a child who has lost a playground spat, as Harbhajan walked around with a sheepish look on his face (and where have we seen that before), one thought kept going through the mind: that if and when this happened, Sreesanth was the prime candidate for being hit, and Harbhajan was the most likely offender.

Cricket, Indian cricket in particular, had it coming. What an irony the BCCI, which has so long indulged these two, may now have to ban one - it has already suspended Harbhajan pending the inquiry - and sanction the other. That sound you hear is of Australians chuckling at what has come to pass.

What happened on the field is not clear; as with the infamous sledging episode at Sydney, this incident was not shown on television. It appears that Sreesanth, who plays for the Kings XI Punjab, walked up to Harbhajan - captain of the opposing Mumbai Indians - after the match and commiserated on Mumbai's loss. "Hard luck", Sreesanth is believed to have said. At which point Harbhajan apparently hit Sreesanth below the eye. We have only Sreesanth's version; Harbhajan has been lying low, presumably realising that discretion is the better part.

To anyone who has followed Indian cricket in the past few months, the incident was inevitable. Sreesanth has gone from being a hugely talented bowler - one can still hear Allan Donald's appreciation of the ball's seam position in his hand - to a petulant, theatrical time-bomb who has allowed his baiting skills (and now his bawling skills) to dominate his bowling skills. He has rarely needed an excuse to turn round and stare at, or sledge, or brush past or bump into the batsman. It has happened when playing for India; it has gone unchecked. It has happened in the IPL, too. In fact it happened on Friday - minutes before we saw Sreesanth shed tears, we saw him sledge Mumbai's batsman, Musavir Khote, whom he had just dismissed. Many will see what followed as a case of crying wolf.

 
 
Both are part of a new India where aggression is celebrated, where on-field antics, often seen as entertainment, strike a chord with the Common Man. And where the finger of suspicion raised against an Indian player is prima facie an insult against the country
 

Sreesanth's one virtue, if it can be called that, is his ability to get away. That's a trick Harbhajan has not been able to manage in an often controversial career that has of late seen more headlines associated with his antics than with his wicket-taking abilities. It is no coincidence that he was at the centre of the two major incidents during India's tour of Australia earlier this year - the charge of racism in Sydney, from which he was let off on a technicality, and Hayden's reference to him as a "little obnoxious weed", a wrangle that continued long after he'd returned to India.

Last month, these two turned on each other during the India-South Africa Test series. It stemmed from a dropped catch by Sreesanth off Harbhajan's bowling during the Chennai Test; Harbhajan reacted with visible displeasure. Later, after making a diving save at point off RP Singh's bowling, Harbhajan was seen gesticulating at Sreesanth, who was at mid-off. From there to Mohali was but a short step.

Perhaps it isn't their fault; perhaps they've just been handled badly. Perhaps they needed a kick up their backsides instead of a deaf ear or, worse, a sympathetic arm around the shoulder and, in Harbhajan's case, the media's assurance that all of India was backing him in his fight against the racism charge. Both are part of a new India where aggression is celebrated, where on-field antics, often seen as entertainment, strike a chord with the Common Man. And where the finger of suspicion raised against an Indian player is prima facie an insult against the country.

Both are also part of an Indian team that has recently adopted aggressive tactics, not just as a counter but proactively. In an interview with Cricinfo last month Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the team's captain in the shorter versions of the game, indicated that the sledging and gamesmanship were calibrated, often using selected players for the task. "If you have a guy who is able to do it and who should do it, I make it a point that he does it."


Mahendra Singh Dhoni has indicated that sledging and gamesmanship are calibrated, and doesn't refrain from using selected players for the task © AFP
 

Dhoni also warned against excesses but said there were inbuilt circuit-breakers - "Personally, I believe if you get punished a few times, you know what's happening and what your boundaries are." Therein lies the nub - there's been little official sanction of the on-field tantrums that have on occasion threatened to take the gloss off India's cricket successes.

Now there is opportunity. If the IPL is to establish itself as a bona fide cricket tournament and not merely a money-spinning carnival, it must act now, and act firmly. If Harbhajan indeed hit Sreesanth, he must pay; if Sreesanth provoked the act, he, too must be dealt with. But that is the easy part; the ICC's Code of Conduct will take care of this incident. What will be harder to tackle is the growing culture of aggression from where this incident emerged.

It is not natural to Indian cricketers, it is not something that can be bought off the peg and worn every match-day; the Australians have perfected it - have you ever witnessed two Australians enacting the Mohali scenes? - because it is nothing more than an extension of their daily lives. The Indian board must suo motu send out the message that this behaviour - provocation, reaction, hostility - will not be tolerated, that players must rein themselves in.

In a larger perspective, the issue may also compel the franchises to look a little closer at how they run their teams. Collecting the world's best players at auction and getting your biggest local star to captain them may not be the best way to win matches. Harbhajan is patently not captaincy material; Mumbai Indians, currently languishing one place off the bottom of the table, paid US$850,000 for his services, which are now in jeopardy just when they need him.

There may yet be some good coming out of this farce but that will depend on how seriously the Indian board takes the offence, takes itself and takes the IPL. The world will be watching.

Jayaditya Gupta is executive editor of Cricinfo in India

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Perdy_M on April 30, 2008, 8:00 GMT

    I quite agree with Jaya. But one is not sure as to what exactly happened, obviously Sree had provoked the Sardar during the match, to such an extent, as was echoed by many other players from Mumbai, to create such a situation. There is no smoke without a fire. I felt both guys should have been banned for 3 games each, rather than banning the turbanator for the whole tournament. That seemed a bit harsh.Even MS HAD said somewhere that the hearing panel study the whole chain of events, which seems was not done. Moreover IPL & BCCI need to provide them some counselling sessions through some experts & not inflate the issue with a trumpet. Obviously it's not an acceptable thing, but v need to move on & discipline the two players.

    Perdy Mohindru

    NZ.

  • DavidR on April 30, 2008, 3:15 GMT

    The following statement is plain offensive and Cricinfo needs to get Mr Gupta to apologise or get rid of him: "What will be harder to tackle is the growing culture of aggression from where this incident emerged. It is not natural to Indian cricketers... the Australians have perfected it - because it is nothing more than an extension of their daily lives."

    Really. So Mr Gupta considers that aggression is just an extension of Australians' daily lives? Perhaps he might consider whether that is offensive - like calling someone of African descent a monkey, for instance? You are tending to confuse aggression and sledging, even though the latter doesnt come across as polite to many Indians. Nor should you confuse aggression with refusing to take a backward step. If you are going to posture aggressively you should be willing to back it up. Sreesanth's bawling shows he was just a fraud. But quite right about the BCCI protecting these two and bullying over the Harbajhan appeal.

  • Avijit_IPL on April 29, 2008, 8:23 GMT

    Hi friends I feel whatever u all have said that beside harbhajan also sreesanth should be punished.I have never seen the incident happening i have only heard it in the news.U see the authorities should take this matter deeply and any body is accountable if he takes law in their hand. May be Sree has provoked him but i feel any one can't can't provoke any body to take the law in hands.

  • Deep_Square_Leg on April 29, 2008, 6:22 GMT

    Firstly, this is a great article Jayaditya. As an Indian watching this unfold it causes me much embarrassment and angst as only a few months ago I was supporting the Indian team in their battle against the Aussie team. I defended the antics of Bhajji with fellow Australian friends but all that seems rather foolish now after reviewing this incident. Looks like Sachin won't be able to wrangle Bhajji out of this one! I hope Bhajji receives a severe punishment and that it is a lesson for others too. Sree should grow up and channel his concentration on his line and length, instead of showing aggression at a batsman when he is dismissed all the time! We all play hard on the field and want to win and the aggression should stay on the field within the spirit of the game. That's why cricket is the game that it is today! BTW, why aren't the police involved in this incident???

  • TerryOZ on April 29, 2008, 5:28 GMT

    This IPL tournament is great stuff. So far it has revealed the following: a. Harbhajan slaps and is not a saint after all b. Sree is a cry baby and not so tough after all c. Symo hits the fastest 100 d. Gilchrist hits an even faster 100 Cheers.

  • CaribbeanLionesse on April 29, 2008, 3:03 GMT

    Serve. Them. Right!!!

    Trust me, it's not just the Aussies giggling at how red-faced Indians must be after defending Bhaji so vociferously a few months ago.

    Black cricket fans are snickering too- we knew Bhaji's ugly behaviour would show again soon, especially after you all made him out to be a hero during the Aussie imbroglio.

    I NEVER bought that ridiculous 'Indians are not racist' spiel nor did I buy that a well-travelled man like Bhaji did not know it was racist to call a black man a monkey- does he think we're stupid? Well clearly, since he thinks we're monkeys...I would have liked him to come try that in the West Indies!

    I am THRILLED to see that the chickens have come to roost and Indians have been able to see for themselves what an obnoxious, odious character he really is.

    Fantastic! Pass the popcorn, I'm enjoying this show!

  • Chickos_Champs on April 28, 2008, 15:49 GMT

    I feel it is important to note here on Cricinfo that Harbhajan was again prepared to blatantly lie in an attempt to cover his own mis-deeds.

    It has been reported that he told CNN-IBN television: "At the end of the match, I did push him, which might have hurt him" when in fact he has pleaded guilty to striking a player in the face....

    This smacks of the same half truths / lies he and Tendulkar were prepared to spout when racial abuse of an australian player recently got him into hot water

  • PPD123 on April 28, 2008, 14:22 GMT

    Harbhajan has rightfully been handed a stringent ban for 11 matches. BCCI should also take cue and ban him for 5 test matches. Having said that, it takes 2 hands to clap and I believe Sreesanth should also be penalised for the utter nonsense that he displays on the field. He should not be let off cos he was also equally responsible for what happened the other day at Mohali. He is an extremely average bowler and needs to learn his trade. Getting belted for 10-12 runs an over and then hurling abuses at fellow players does not make you an aggressive player. Look at all the great bowlers of the past - Harshall, Garner, Holding, Hadlee, Imran or Kapil, they never abused to get wickets. These 2 guys need to be sent to some sports psychiatrist to help them regain composure and focus. I personally dont see the day being too far when One of these guys get seriously assaulted be one of their opposition for the utter nonsense they do on the field. BCCI and ICC should act fast.

  • ArjunPandit on April 28, 2008, 14:21 GMT

    Our players are pampered more than we need to, i think whole of australia must be enjoying this episode. Now i seriously think that their must be some truth in aussie allegation against bhajji. Haydon and symond must be smirking by now.Bhajji and Sree both are obnoxious weeds, they must be punished, and for sree he should back his sledging by his performance, he should get 100% marks in sledging and 0% in performance.

  • PraveenGhosh on April 28, 2008, 13:51 GMT

    IPL is now Reality Show of cricket, where there is no reality and all drama. I don't see future of cricket any more. Till how long people will enjoy this drama. I request ICC to intervene seriously on IPL & ICL. These are nothing, but to spoil world of cricket. Now other countires are also trying to do the same. All the cricketer would retire for short-term but huge money. This can not be future of cricket. I think Malcom Speed exit from ICC body is clear indication that cricket is to sychronise in India only. Even Pakistan is now no more serious for cricket. Till how long only India bear cricket. Be serious all cricketing bodies. Cricket is dying.

  • Perdy_M on April 30, 2008, 8:00 GMT

    I quite agree with Jaya. But one is not sure as to what exactly happened, obviously Sree had provoked the Sardar during the match, to such an extent, as was echoed by many other players from Mumbai, to create such a situation. There is no smoke without a fire. I felt both guys should have been banned for 3 games each, rather than banning the turbanator for the whole tournament. That seemed a bit harsh.Even MS HAD said somewhere that the hearing panel study the whole chain of events, which seems was not done. Moreover IPL & BCCI need to provide them some counselling sessions through some experts & not inflate the issue with a trumpet. Obviously it's not an acceptable thing, but v need to move on & discipline the two players.

    Perdy Mohindru

    NZ.

  • DavidR on April 30, 2008, 3:15 GMT

    The following statement is plain offensive and Cricinfo needs to get Mr Gupta to apologise or get rid of him: "What will be harder to tackle is the growing culture of aggression from where this incident emerged. It is not natural to Indian cricketers... the Australians have perfected it - because it is nothing more than an extension of their daily lives."

    Really. So Mr Gupta considers that aggression is just an extension of Australians' daily lives? Perhaps he might consider whether that is offensive - like calling someone of African descent a monkey, for instance? You are tending to confuse aggression and sledging, even though the latter doesnt come across as polite to many Indians. Nor should you confuse aggression with refusing to take a backward step. If you are going to posture aggressively you should be willing to back it up. Sreesanth's bawling shows he was just a fraud. But quite right about the BCCI protecting these two and bullying over the Harbajhan appeal.

  • Avijit_IPL on April 29, 2008, 8:23 GMT

    Hi friends I feel whatever u all have said that beside harbhajan also sreesanth should be punished.I have never seen the incident happening i have only heard it in the news.U see the authorities should take this matter deeply and any body is accountable if he takes law in their hand. May be Sree has provoked him but i feel any one can't can't provoke any body to take the law in hands.

  • Deep_Square_Leg on April 29, 2008, 6:22 GMT

    Firstly, this is a great article Jayaditya. As an Indian watching this unfold it causes me much embarrassment and angst as only a few months ago I was supporting the Indian team in their battle against the Aussie team. I defended the antics of Bhajji with fellow Australian friends but all that seems rather foolish now after reviewing this incident. Looks like Sachin won't be able to wrangle Bhajji out of this one! I hope Bhajji receives a severe punishment and that it is a lesson for others too. Sree should grow up and channel his concentration on his line and length, instead of showing aggression at a batsman when he is dismissed all the time! We all play hard on the field and want to win and the aggression should stay on the field within the spirit of the game. That's why cricket is the game that it is today! BTW, why aren't the police involved in this incident???

  • TerryOZ on April 29, 2008, 5:28 GMT

    This IPL tournament is great stuff. So far it has revealed the following: a. Harbhajan slaps and is not a saint after all b. Sree is a cry baby and not so tough after all c. Symo hits the fastest 100 d. Gilchrist hits an even faster 100 Cheers.

  • CaribbeanLionesse on April 29, 2008, 3:03 GMT

    Serve. Them. Right!!!

    Trust me, it's not just the Aussies giggling at how red-faced Indians must be after defending Bhaji so vociferously a few months ago.

    Black cricket fans are snickering too- we knew Bhaji's ugly behaviour would show again soon, especially after you all made him out to be a hero during the Aussie imbroglio.

    I NEVER bought that ridiculous 'Indians are not racist' spiel nor did I buy that a well-travelled man like Bhaji did not know it was racist to call a black man a monkey- does he think we're stupid? Well clearly, since he thinks we're monkeys...I would have liked him to come try that in the West Indies!

    I am THRILLED to see that the chickens have come to roost and Indians have been able to see for themselves what an obnoxious, odious character he really is.

    Fantastic! Pass the popcorn, I'm enjoying this show!

  • Chickos_Champs on April 28, 2008, 15:49 GMT

    I feel it is important to note here on Cricinfo that Harbhajan was again prepared to blatantly lie in an attempt to cover his own mis-deeds.

    It has been reported that he told CNN-IBN television: "At the end of the match, I did push him, which might have hurt him" when in fact he has pleaded guilty to striking a player in the face....

    This smacks of the same half truths / lies he and Tendulkar were prepared to spout when racial abuse of an australian player recently got him into hot water

  • PPD123 on April 28, 2008, 14:22 GMT

    Harbhajan has rightfully been handed a stringent ban for 11 matches. BCCI should also take cue and ban him for 5 test matches. Having said that, it takes 2 hands to clap and I believe Sreesanth should also be penalised for the utter nonsense that he displays on the field. He should not be let off cos he was also equally responsible for what happened the other day at Mohali. He is an extremely average bowler and needs to learn his trade. Getting belted for 10-12 runs an over and then hurling abuses at fellow players does not make you an aggressive player. Look at all the great bowlers of the past - Harshall, Garner, Holding, Hadlee, Imran or Kapil, they never abused to get wickets. These 2 guys need to be sent to some sports psychiatrist to help them regain composure and focus. I personally dont see the day being too far when One of these guys get seriously assaulted be one of their opposition for the utter nonsense they do on the field. BCCI and ICC should act fast.

  • ArjunPandit on April 28, 2008, 14:21 GMT

    Our players are pampered more than we need to, i think whole of australia must be enjoying this episode. Now i seriously think that their must be some truth in aussie allegation against bhajji. Haydon and symond must be smirking by now.Bhajji and Sree both are obnoxious weeds, they must be punished, and for sree he should back his sledging by his performance, he should get 100% marks in sledging and 0% in performance.

  • PraveenGhosh on April 28, 2008, 13:51 GMT

    IPL is now Reality Show of cricket, where there is no reality and all drama. I don't see future of cricket any more. Till how long people will enjoy this drama. I request ICC to intervene seriously on IPL & ICL. These are nothing, but to spoil world of cricket. Now other countires are also trying to do the same. All the cricketer would retire for short-term but huge money. This can not be future of cricket. I think Malcom Speed exit from ICC body is clear indication that cricket is to sychronise in India only. Even Pakistan is now no more serious for cricket. Till how long only India bear cricket. Be serious all cricketing bodies. Cricket is dying.

  • Gr8Arch3r on April 28, 2008, 13:36 GMT

    Very good article on indian cricket - Jaya,, and Wikidarar26 yeap I totally agree with you, I also play club cricket in Australia, and I have seen the sledging level even in club cricket but that just for that match only,, after the match it is like nothing happened. Even though bhajji is a good bowler he does no have the right attitude to play at national level and Sreesanth is a PH(=f)@#$ing absolute crap as a bowler and as a teammate level. I know here comes the BCCI inner politics and some top grade players will interfere (like DHONI and YUVRAJ, may be SACHIN) and bhajji will not get proper punishment. I think banning him from the cricket at international and even domestic level will be the right punishment for him and it seems it is quite an overdue for him. Let's C what BCCI comes up at the end.

  • SR-FR on April 28, 2008, 13:23 GMT

    Hilarious...this has exceeded my wildest dreams...long have I wished for this to happen...though to be honest I wished barbhajan had hit tendulkar the demi-god instead of sreesant...would have loved to witness the backlash then...as an Indian who has supported Australia for the past 20 years (not a fair weather fan)....I am loving this...long may this continue.

  • Subba_rao on April 28, 2008, 13:22 GMT

    well, it is proved once again that Indian players lack discipline and teamwork. We are experts in quarelling among ourselves. We, Indians should learn from animals, if not from other country personnel. A group of animals never fight among themselves. Our cricketers don't even have the collectivity of animals.

    I think the Indian cricket board should take it very seriously and make sure that such an action will never be repeated. What school Harbhajan Singh studied I don't know. But his behaviour, even in Australia also, is that of a street player. I am sorry but that is reality.

    Now, the board should equally take blame for this because it is the board's responsibility to inculcate the basic code of ethics and discipline among team players. They are representatives of the country not the streets in which they are born.

    I think Harbhajan should be banned for a longtime,if not lifetime, not just this tournment. That's the only way they can be cultivated discipline and basic manners.

  • Ben_Shenton on April 28, 2008, 13:20 GMT

    It is a delicious irony that the two Indian players who have tried to be so innocent and cried the victim when it has been so obvious that they have had their 'hands in the cookie jar' when it comes to being protagonists on the field have actually ended up doing what we know they have done to each other. They no longer can play the race card or threaten as part of national honor that the Indian team are going home, the BCCI can't use it for political posturing and Indian supporters can't say that now they are the top dog and the rest of the cricketing world is picking on their players because they have all the money. Now that 'our beloved Bhajji' has been caught doing what he should never be allowed to do he has had to be disciplined as should have happened long ago and what a lot of people have wanted all along. If you are caught doing the crime don't hide behind behind your mothers skirts or a big pack stand up and take the punishment and change your aggressive offensive attitude.

  • jaztech on April 28, 2008, 13:15 GMT

    Personally, I feel a bit sorry for Sreesanth. You don't have to go back too far and he was as 'mental' as Andre Nel is, and one just hoped someone would smack him in the head and do the world a favour. But he came out to Australia at the end of the tour and actually behaved himself. Perhaps he'd been given some seriously terse words about having to behave himself - regardless, he did. Hard but fair - how we like it down in Oz. He got some respect for that. But Singh is a moron and deserves what he gets. Oh, and for the edification of those writing/reading in this forum (a) sledging and aggression does not, in cricket, mean hitting someone (b) what happened is not a result of Indians trying to copy Australians or South Africans or anyone else - what happened is that a bad egg finally cracked.

  • AGSB on April 28, 2008, 12:48 GMT

    Its all too easy for us to sit in the comfort of our office/living rooms and judge such players who are watched & criticized by millions of fans around the world. Which of us would behave like a saint if our loved ones are the talking point in the middle of a tense match ala Zidane Vs Matarazzi. There probably was a deep provocation for the reaction from Harbhajan. Times are changing, stakes are higher now-a-days. Pressure will be that much more. One cannot apply mathematical induction and say, this didn't happen before so it should not happen now. Best thing to do would be to initiate punitive measures but ensure that there is a rahab for the guys involved. Anyway, we have a full time psychiatrist with the INDIAN team. Lets get practical,face the reality and reclaim the champion in Harbhajan and Sree.

  • RLX36 on April 28, 2008, 12:37 GMT

    I have been staying in a country, which does not play cricket. So I take the opportunity to hear about and read about cricket at every chance I get. the last few months I have been getting all sorts of reports eclipsing actual cricket news. The incident in Australia was the last straw. It is a shame. Cricket has been regarded as a gentleman's game. that has to be revised, since money has taken a more important role than the game. Also behavior on and off grounds has left much to be wished for than anything else ( to say the least ). I love CRICKET. Guys who don't know anything about sportsmanship should NOT be allowed to play. The responsible boards and persons should take necessary actions to impose a code of conduct and save the game. They players with talents and capabilities of world class but no sportsman should be kept away from the game.----- Strong words. Please the save the game of Cricket.

  • fibonacci_72 on April 28, 2008, 11:39 GMT

    Harbhajan deserved the penalty, although I feel a little sad because he is a good bowler and has done well for the country. Sreesanth also deserves to be penalized, albeit to a lesser extent, and repeatedly demonstrates that he is a first-rate fool when he sledges tail-enders even when his team is winning handsomely. Both these players need to mend their ways, or else, should never figure in the choice of players to represent their country. They can be ably replaced by Murali Kartik or Piyush Chawla, and Vikram Singh or Munaf Patel, respectively.

  • asksahir on April 28, 2008, 11:29 GMT

    The latest incident between Harbhajan and Sreesanth at the IPL match is BCCI's own creation.Harbhajan has paid them back in their own buck. All hindi/punjabi speaking guys knew the words Harbhajan used in Australia. Despite of that BCCI threw its weight behind Harbhajan to the extent that all cricketing nations started calling BCCI and and above all, Indian Cricket, a new bully on the block.The surprise does not end here, the all so powerful Indian media choose to sit back and report the excercise of power by BCCI in the hearings. Wish, we the lovers of Indian cricket rose above this false pride to address our own backyard, the world of cricket would not be laughing at us today. Hope we can learn from this.

  • Naseer on April 28, 2008, 11:16 GMT

    I think first of all we should refer to the Dictionary to know the exact meaning of "aggression". Becaue there is misconseption; a lot of people have referred to Sreesanth as aggressive player, for what! Only for misbehaving, provoking, or showing extremely negative attitude, He is not an aggressive blower, but he is deadly short tempered player who could not keep his head cool. Harbajan is experienced player and he should not have reacted the way he did. I think we should go to the roots of criteria on which selection of players is based, in my opinion a player should not be selected only for good performance, but positive attitude should come in play big role in selection, because if you have outstandingly talented player, but his attitude is not bearable he is useless take the example of Shoib Akhter A true talent with zero percent temperament just like honest soul in body of villain. The Indian board should awake! immediatly otherwise........

  • sportslover on April 28, 2008, 11:02 GMT

    This is purely and utterly nonsense thing that had happened.I dont understand why the BCCI is so kind to these two(bhajji n sree ) who have become such rude,harsh and stupid behavioue kind of people in the team.Its true that bhajji and sreeshanth both are out of form and still playing in the XI. This secure thing had made them feel that what ever they do can be overturned.After hearing this incident i was shocked that the Indians did these.Look how the aussies are mingled with their teams and also the younsters in their teams.These two should atlest learn to behave properly.If bhajji had slapped sree,i feel that sree should not have come to the ground and cried.He should have complained to the higher officials and sorted the matter.Coming in front of the media who always look for these kind of things made it much more worse than it was.So if bhajji had slapped sree then no doubt that he should be punished and i feel he should be banned for life. And sree for 1 yr to learn his mistakes.

  • p.gopi on April 28, 2008, 11:00 GMT

    Harbhajan with this act has slapped all those supporters and media who stood by him during his australian tour, he has embarrased all of us who were with him while taking on the aussies....its the aussies who would be the happiest at seeing all this, after all they stand vindicated.

    Al slap to Sreesanth and a censure to harbhajan was long due.

  • Wikidarar26 on April 28, 2008, 10:55 GMT

    Great Article Jaya!!! I am from North Indian Background living in Australia. You are right Jaya not everybody can sledge perfectly. I am playing club cricket in Oz. We all sledge. There is nothing wrong with having freindly bantar. i moved to Oz when i was 17 now I am 28. i have played Australian Football, Rugby and cricket here. Sledging and a bit of Biffo is part of Aussie culture. It was very hard to understand at first but then i realized it is not personnel And now I absoultely love it. The point as made by Jaya is that we as in India are not taught about controlled agression. Here is Oz you learn that from Day one. You have a bit of talk on field but important point is as soon as game is finished everything is forgotten and we go and have a chat and few drinks with the opostion. As soon as you cross the white line everything is forgotten. I think may be bhajji should be sent to Oz for a bit of Sledgeing training.I do think though there is no place for what bhaji did in cricket.

  • SamD on April 28, 2008, 10:45 GMT

    Excellent article. But you can only imagine the outrage and cries of 'racist imperialist' if the very same words had been written by an Australian or Englishman. I think some of the Indian respondents would do well to start playing the ball and not the man judging by some of the comments to other articles (written by non-Indians) written about world cricket lately.

  • vaidy on April 28, 2008, 10:27 GMT

    Mr Farroukh Engineer is seen having fun with team principals on TV. The match refree must be above board and beyond suspicion. He must keep away from the Preity Zintas and the SRKs.

    Bhajji deserves it. Sreesanth - no less. He is a petulant idiot, a 12 year old stuck in a 24 year old body. His punishment is long overdue.

  • GB_Cricket on April 28, 2008, 10:25 GMT

    On field aggression is one thing and being arrogant, rude and voilent is altogether different. In our country of over a billion people, lots of promising and talented cricketers are dying to get a chance to play for India. Then there are these over rated arrogant guys who take everything including their Indian cap for granted. Ever seen Bhajji's reaction on taking a wicket? He acts as if he has won a world cup even if the wicket he's got is of a tailender. Once the present bunch of great players like Sachin, Kumble, Dravid, Laxman and Ganguly call it a day, I afraid guys like Harbhajan Singh and Shreesanth will become role model for our youth. Before its too late and these guys bring further shame and embarrasment for their team and country, its high time some action is taken especially against Bhajji who has a long history of inviting controversies.

  • judson_jd on April 28, 2008, 9:41 GMT

    I'm not sure how many of you will agree with me. But there are more than sufficient examples to say that sledging is not needed to make you a great bowler. Kapil never sledged or showed excessive aggression on the field, for that matter Srinath as well. Even Ajit Agarkar has never started in to a batsman's eyes or sledged him. Bhajji and Sreesanth have to take the cue from Ajit as to how calm one should be and let the ball speak.

    Dhoni is just being an escapist trying to support both the parties. Bhajji should be banned and Sreesanth should be suspended, no doubt....

  • baskar_guha on April 28, 2008, 9:40 GMT

    Perhaps the most difficult aspect of sports is to stay level headed in victory and in defeat. The complete inability shown by these two to do so should be enough to send them packing for a year, maybe more. It will not only help them correct their dysfunctional ways but also set the bar for cricketers of tomorrow.

  • VARANASI on April 28, 2008, 8:40 GMT

    One thing i really feel is Sreesanth sl;edges unnecesaarily on the field. he seems to be concentrating more upon that than his bowling. Being aggresive is OK, but being aggresive woithout a cause is foolish. He has lost (ofcourse i never felt that he is a greta bowler) his so called rythm or something like that. harbhajan too should be guilty for thsi. One thing is this IPL is breaking the spirit of our country. Shame upon the players in this issue. they had fooled India globally in cricketing circles. What is ther for sree to murmer against Musafir. Does h think that people will appreciate him if he sledges. infact we feel blady irritating to see his causeless sledging.

  • Mumbai_Dashers on April 28, 2008, 8:05 GMT

    Good Article... SreeSanth is no saint either he is the one who keeps initiating such fights and causing problems within the team.He should be equally punished for his unwanted sledging

  • sinhasurajit on April 28, 2008, 8:00 GMT

    I as an Indian feel utterly embarraced with this incident. In the end of the day nobody is above the Indian pride, culture and spiritualism. Harbhajan has let every Indian down with this foolish, stupid so called aggression. Slapping fellow player does not go with image of our country. I am currently as an NRI in UK can feel it better than anybody. If we look at Kapil Dev, Kumble, Tendulkar, they are all great and do not such aggression to raise their game. It is the act of utmost humiliation for country in such an international scenario. Looking at the example of Soeb Akhter, He should be punished so severely that it will deter others to follow similar course.

  • pnvram on April 28, 2008, 7:45 GMT

    It intrigues me why Sachin Tendulkar has been supporting rebels without a cause from the days of the Greg Chappell-Rahul Dravid regime--Yuvraj Singh, Ashish Nehra and Harbhajan Singh were all involved in anti-team postures if not activities. Tendulkar has two of them in his Mumbai XI, one of them as vice captain, and has often displayed his affection for these players on the field. He and Sourav Ganguly too became closer friends during Dravid's regime than earlier. During Dravid's last days and weeks as captain, it was rumoured Tendulkar was interested in captaincy, though he later refused the offer to lead. The little master has not covered himself with glory in his choice of friends.

  • abhi000007 on April 28, 2008, 7:12 GMT

    I don't know how many of us Indians are so disappointed to have supported Bhajji and Sreesanth for so long. And to see Dhoni still support them is even more disappointing. Aggression and indiscipline/rudeness are two different things. Don't we and the whole world hate the aussie team precisely for this kind of behavior? Then why are we trying to imitate them ? ( To say that they dont isnt exaclty true, as the video below shows): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtepb2VzWyU

    Sachin, Rahul, VVS, Kumble or even Ganguly have been there in the game for so many years, but did we ever hear anything like this coming from them ? That Indian team was a role model. Can the present team claim to be one, in spite of having won the 20-20 world cup ?

  • Ash.Habib on April 28, 2008, 7:06 GMT

    In a country of a billion plus people, where the general population lives and breathes cricket, how hard is it for BCCI to fill the slot for Sreesanth or Harbhajan? Look at Pakistan cricket and what it has been reduced to because of the authorities looking the other way when selective players had their reign at whatever they wanted. I would hate to see Indian cricket following the same destructive path. No individual is bigger than the team and country they represent and even though some may say it is just a game, to me it is a reflection of the nation and those who represent us should never do it poorly. It is not a matter of form where a player fails to perform, it is the basic civilty and dignity that they should never lose. Bhajji should be punished seperately by IPL and BCCI and BCCI also needs to put a leash on Sreesanth before he joins the ranks of Shoaib Akhter in disgracing a nation.

  • aarpee2 on April 28, 2008, 6:37 GMT

    I recall watching on TV young Praveen Kumar [eventual match winner]rushing from Mid-Off to congratulate Bhajji the bowler during the finals of the Aus/India ODI and being rudely brushed aside .This is a glaring example of Bhajji's attitude[Poster Boy of the E media] of being invincible and indispensable and enjoying the blessing s of Sachin and Sharad Pawar.Unfortunately h e is no match winner like Kumble or Muralidharan from whom he needs to take lessons on humility. Time to just quiely drop him and groom good bowlers like Ramesh Pawar,Murali Kartik and Piyush Chawla in his place.

  • kvwar on April 28, 2008, 6:13 GMT

    It is hard to believe that India cricketers can behave like this. Why don't these young cricketers learn from Sachin as to how to behave on and off the field. Aggression and arrogance is misunderstood. The BCCI, media and Dhoni are all culprits in this issue. Had Sachin not come to his resccue in Australia Harbhajan would not be playing this day. It is high time action is taken against both the cricketers at equal magnitude.

  • OnePercentGenius on April 28, 2008, 6:02 GMT

    I have seen two Australians play rough on the field when playing for opposite teams. This was in a triangular series when "Australia A" had been brought in as a replacement for an international team... Cricinfo might be able to pull this one out of the record books, but I remember it from watching quite a few years ago...

  • conquerer on April 28, 2008, 4:54 GMT

    Good article, Jayaditya, but one thing you should remember in today's game there is nothing wrong in staring or making gestures, as long as u do not use any bad language, thirdly Sreesanth does the staring and gestures very well, absolutely a must in todays cricket. Come on how can u justify hitting a opponent player on the playing field is justifyable. Harbajan requires total ban for two years from any form of cricket, that will make him be a better human being, also sober down completely.

  • taniap on April 28, 2008, 4:49 GMT

    I completely agree with this article. Indian team has done marvelously well in the past without having to copy someone else's ways like getting into sledging. I blame the authorities - they should have a solid policy that is transparent and which every player will know by heart without any misunderstandings. Any player moving out of those boundaries should be reprimanded.

    BCCI needs to be able to swallow their pride once in a while for the sake of all those youngsters gearing upto be future Indian players. I hope Both Harbajan and Sreesanth will be reprimanded to make an example to others as well.

  • paku11 on April 28, 2008, 4:35 GMT

    Enough Said.

    Timely reminder for the phrase, Those who live in glass house shouldn't throw stone on others (India/Aus) The trouble is, soon we'll put these same characters to represent our country.

  • kangaroo72 on April 28, 2008, 4:35 GMT

    Hi,

    Good, This incident took place. At least now the world will know that Bhajji and Sreesanth are not saints.

    Both Bhajji and Sree should be punished and as one writer has said, hit them where it hurts most, on their wallets.

    Just imagine what is going to happen to Indian Cricket, onece all the Gentleman Cricketers, like Kumble, Dravid, Sachin, Ganguly and Laxman retire. Who is going to Guide this so called agressive Cricketers? God save Indian Cricket!!!!!!!!!!

  • Vchadda on April 28, 2008, 4:18 GMT

    Excellent article Mr. Gupta, i totally agree with you, Harbhajan has been involved in lot of controversies in the past too and even Sreesanth is not doing any good by his foolish and embrassing behavious with opposition players but somehow he got away all the times in past. I am a huge fan of Indian cricket but everytime i see these too doing there stupid and childish antics on field i dont feel proud, infact i feel ashamed. they are bringing bad name to the country, if harbhajan has slapped sreesanth he should be punished severely but also Sreesanth should not be allowed to let go easily as i am pretty sure he must have provoked harbhajan for this otherwise why he was trying to downplay the incident after his crocodile tears. Utterly disgusted and shameful but i dont think these too will change ever unless banned from the game for a significant period of time

  • darkness on April 28, 2008, 3:40 GMT

    i think sreesanth was just crying to add fuel to the fire.and its the aussies who have the last laugh

  • sportsfan on April 28, 2008, 3:27 GMT

    well said! both harbhajan and sreesanth should have been punished for their bad behaviour a long time ago. They are a disgrace to indian cricket. but there is none in the BCCI who is strong enough to tell them that they are wrong. BCCI should decipline them at least now. They should have been banned from playing cricket a long time ago. Dhoni has to take some blame as well, as he has been knowingly encouraging this kind of behaviour. Yes, australians behave this way. but it doesn't mean that the indians have to demean themselves like the australians do. we have to remember we are civilized human beings. it is ok to play aggressively but is not ok to behave aggressively. try and beat the australians in cricket and not in sledging. BCCI, please do your job.

  • Ajith-s on April 28, 2008, 2:11 GMT

    sreesanth shud hav hit harbhajan!!!sreesanth shud hav hit harbhajan!!!, sorry about the repetition, it said i need a minimum of 100 characters...

  • khmayecha on April 28, 2008, 1:53 GMT

    Harbhajan and Sreesanth must get back to basics and check out their priorities - whether they are first Indian Teammates or the IPL Opposites !!!

    The IPL is no doubt interesting stuff but if players are carried away to this extent - it sure is going to be bad for the national team when they play the real stuff.

    The BCCI seems to be tolerant to all this - maybe because they too must be going through all this during their "closed to media" meeting and thrash outs.

    The head of the family can only tolerate upto the extent he himself is capable of doing .... Why blame two puppets.....

  • Saosin on April 28, 2008, 1:13 GMT

    As a proud Australian this was simply the best news to wake up to when I poured over the IPL articles and scorecards the morning after the incident. The first thing I did was call my friend, another cricket fanatic, and laugh and expose and delve into this matter. It was a joyous occasion, and my how those "horrible" words from Matthew Hayden ultimately ring true and correct. This news wasn't a shock, controversial or unexpected in any way shape or form. The two clowns at the centre have carried on like imbeciles for many years UNCHECKED by the BCCI. I say unchecked, actually they have been supported infact. My the egg on all the faces. And no "evil Aussie bad-guy" to blame this time is there? Absolutely hilarious and absolutely justifies Australian cricketers a: having digs at H Singh for his consistently idiotic behaviour and b: being concerned at being racially sledged by this moron. Captain material? Hardly. Worth $850K? No. Making EVERY Aussie fan happy? ABSOLUTELY! Thanks Harbi

  • Slaternator on April 28, 2008, 1:09 GMT

    Great article and it is a true shame for Indian cricket that the fame and power has gone to the heads of some of their players. Indian children need someone to look up to and I hope to heck they do not look up to (and I use this next term loosly) "sportsman" like these two. If you two slapping, cry baby brats are reading this, hang your heads in shame and ask yourself what you would think if you saw this display. For too long the ICC has bent over to the Asian cricket giants like a spoiled brat screaming in a supermarket for a chocolate. It will be interesting to see if they get off with a warning as Mr. H.Singh did after the Symonds incident. One has to wonder what the penalties would be if it were committed by a player from a country that does not bring as much money (into the ICC coffers) as Indian players do?

    Let's all hope that justice (finally!) prevails and these two get the punishment they have so far avoided.

  • redneck on April 28, 2008, 0:22 GMT

    has harbhajan proved the aussies in sydney right or what! he cant even control himself with a national team mate!!! all this talk coming out of india about how england and australia no longer run the game and india being the new power house!!! well let me tell you another thing has finished, india can no longer claim to be gentle, well behaved team playing to the spirit of cricket and how aggression is not in their nature as their board stated after the sydney test. they have taken the mantle from australia but just not the one they wanted the number one sledging team in the world!

  • R.K.Datta on April 28, 2008, 0:22 GMT

    Take a look at his " break dance " after hitting Andre Nel during South Africa. He has dire need for "attention" ( by his own admission he did crazy things during college days to get attention ). As the author rightly said Sree Santh's uncouth behavior has been "ignored" too long.He deserved to be punished for his behavior during England Tour. He has been encouraged by Cricket honchos like Ravi Shastri,Sunil Gavaskar etc - used fancy words - "Passionate sportsmanship". He has a knack of getting under the skin. Ask the players -guarantee absolute Privacy - many would join and say he deserved it and they would would slap him too. Harbhajan may be banned for 10 matches to life time ban. Cricket will suffer unless guys like Sree Santh are punished. Look at close up of his face when he appeals - his behavior is uncouth.

  • Rooboy on April 28, 2008, 0:20 GMT

    Harbhajan's conduct is not surprising and about what I'd expect from him, but sreesanth's conduct is just embarrassing for him and for his country. To see a grown man react to a minor physical altercation in the way that he did is unfathomable to me. Sreesanth's reaction to the incident gives an insight into a weakness and inability to handle confrontation of any kind, problems that underpinned india's recent tour of Australia. This is why indians should just play the game as themselves instead of trying to pretend they are something they are not. Too many indians are prepared to talk the talk but cannot walk the walk. This is quite obvious, and is the reason why players like sreesanth make themselves targets for comments on the field - because no matter how tough they talk, everyone knows that deep down they are soft. And even in a situation like this, where indians alone are involved, we still have responses to this story pointing fingers and blaming Australians. Hilarious!

  • Owls on April 28, 2008, 0:14 GMT

    The Aussies and Indians are the only ones who have made the news in IPL for their on field performances. The Aussies used the bat and the Indians their hand. Way to go.....

  • pikegirpade2008 on April 27, 2008, 23:59 GMT

    I don't really know about this whole incident. But, I agree with the author that Why sreesanth keep looking at the Sky and prays every single ball when he is doing bowling? Does he not believe in him? Why don't he prove his ability and talent and then try to seek result by working hard then just seeking a short cut and going to GOD. He must prove something before asking something to even human!!! GOD is too far.. Take some rest sreesanth. GO HOME!

  • aditya87 on April 27, 2008, 22:15 GMT

    It's one thing to show aggression against the Aussies, and in my opinion that's fine because you're never going to see a quite Aussie on the field anyway. But it's totally unacceptable to do it to your own player, because it's not something he would expect. Having said that, Sreesanth has trashed whatever little dignity he may have left after this incident, by crying like a baby on national television. Someone needs to seriously discipline him because under all the rubbish lies a talented bowler who is capable of taking wickets if he gets it right. And Harbhajan...well someone needs to tell him that he won't be defended all the time.

  • kpt234 on April 27, 2008, 21:56 GMT

    Sreesanth deserves a slap and Harbhajan deserves to sit out a few matches. Let both of them learn a lesson.

  • Ravi78 on April 27, 2008, 19:48 GMT

    I thank Harbhajan for providing this opportunity himself and I am happy this has happened at the right moment when international players are here and watching India closely. This time Harbhajan has been caught red-handed in action and BCCI can not sweep things under the carpet. Earlier BCCI with media backing managed to hijack Symonds controversy as an assault on nation pride when every fair-minded Indian cricket lover knew who was speaking the truth. I hope BCCI don't find any excuse this time to let him go unpunished. This not just a slap on Sreesanth's face but also on BCCI but for they have been backing Harbhajan at the cost of Indian cricket. Time to act, BCCI! Hand him a ban for 1 year.

  • Nampally on April 27, 2008, 18:13 GMT

    We blamed Aussies of sledging for so long but we have a worst example of "deliquent" behaviour from two professional Indian Test cricketers. What a terrible Role Models for all budding young cricket idols. Sreesanth, a "deliquent" adult and Harbhajan, a short fused time bomb. BCCI needs to take a firm stand on this NOW by dishing out severe fines, suspensions to both including cancelling their IPL contracts. Both should be given a crash course on human ettiquettes before participating again in any form of cricket. It is a national disgrace to say the least. There is no place for such un-professional behaviour in Cricket. Harbhajan drew the nation wide sympathy of Indians in the recent "Symmonds" incident. He has abused the Indian goodwill. Pakistan has taken a firm stand in such a case against their star fast bowler Shoeb. Cricketing Ettiquette must be observed strictly on and off the field to avoid bringing the game into disrepute. BCCI, please show some leadership here.

  • manzig on April 27, 2008, 17:59 GMT

    Both of them sreeshanth and harbajan should be sent home beacuse they dont know how to behave. They are immature. period and not qualified ti represent any sports team

  • crazykalia on April 27, 2008, 17:36 GMT

    This incident could not have involved more deserving participants. Both Sreesanth and Harbhajan are an embarrassment to Indian cricket. It's about time BCCI took appropriate action and banned these two idiots for at least a year.

  • DineshIyer on April 27, 2008, 17:32 GMT

    Great article Jayaditya!!! Harbhajan is an obnoxious weed. He has no class. He thinks the IPL or international cricket for that matter is his own personal backyard cricket game where its a free-for-all and brawls settle everything!!! He continues to do this because of his strong friendship with Sachin and other senior players. Dravid's reaction when Bhajji took a low catch was another indication that not many people in the Indian team really believe Bhajji is a clean player! Its just that when u don the India uniform u support ur teammate no matter what! Sreesanth has learnt how to make a complete buffoon of himself. If I were one of his parents, and watch his behaviour on the field, I will be wondering where exactly I went wrong!! Time to 'weed' out these obnoxious characters!!!

  • hawkeye58 on April 27, 2008, 17:09 GMT

    This is what happens when you let national loyalty get the better of an honest appraisal of events. No one can deny that in Harbajan's case, numerous have been the times that the BCCI has come to his rescue, with vague justifications in his defence. It open to conjecture that in the Symonds episode, a lot of jugglery was resorted to, in the name of national pride. And as much as I hate to say it, I have a sneaky suspicion that even Tendulkar may have let his national loyalty, subvert his honest opinion, when he rose to Harbajan's defence. ( Time to own up Sachin !!) Also what is so smart or brave about this sledging thing? How come it is only a chronic cricketing malady? You do not hear of Federer sledging Nadal, or Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson needling each other. Let me assure you, golf is more of a mental game than cricket will ever be. A question for our brave Harbajan. Would you have taken a swipe at Hayden or Symonds, without a dental surgeon in attendance? I guess not!!

  • mussawel on April 27, 2008, 17:06 GMT

    Well I rest my case; Harbhajan Singh is truly an obnoxious little weed!!!

    As for Sreesanth; hmmmm... where is the manhood my friend!! All talk and no courage!!!

    Aussie & Windies fan

  • Phoenixrulez on April 27, 2008, 15:34 GMT

    The Aussies are not giggling. They must be Laughing out to their heart's content. Well I am part of Young India but do not believe that on-field aggression is gonna get us anywhere. Right from the time Sree did his famous 'Bum' Dance I felt he would have been better suited for the silver screen and his continuous on field antics have been only to attract the Camera.

    Bhajji has been a history-sheeter for a long time now and thanks to the media has been a glorified superstar. Well time to pay up now mate. Hope both of them get spanked up their backsides before they get banned that is...

  • vinov_guy on April 27, 2008, 15:24 GMT

    AGGRESSION???? What does this mean boy? Is it only in Cricket? Its every where...every field...every where. But its all related to performance in respective field not in sledging/ provoking or anything like that. I think these guys have mistaken sledging of ozs to agressive cricket. BretLee shows his agression in his bowling, Hayden in his batting, Tendulkar in his Batting, Kapil Dev in Bowling, Kumble in Bowling, but these two ahowed agression in sledging and gave interviews to media stating we do that, we do this but not cricket for true. They already have more money with for their rest living so let them go home take rest for rest of their life...Will BCCI do this??? the million dollar question...

  • Nishantesh on April 27, 2008, 15:11 GMT

    What about sree's beahviour first he says it is slap then punch.What is he trying to prove here.I think sree and bhajji both should be punished.

  • Unnikuttan on April 27, 2008, 15:08 GMT

    well whoever said australians dont compete with india. it was not long ago that a big fight between victoria skipper shane harwood and NSW skip katich took place. it came to blows and the players had to separate them.

    Having said that, sreesanth and harbhajan are idiots and they should be banned from cricket for a few months. Only then theyd learn a few lessons. Real j@rks. And I am Indian

  • engima28 on April 27, 2008, 14:53 GMT

    What a shame!!! The fact is that these 2 "cartoons" involved in this incident have both been accused (and "surprising" not found guilty) of misbehavior on field before. Remember Sreeshant shoulder-checking Mike Vaughan on the England tour? It was so conveniently overlooked at that time. Later it was Bhaji doing shadow boxing... again overlooked conveniently!!! While we all know there are instigators on all teams, it is the way BCCI and ICC handle these players and handle these incidents baffles me. Don't get me wrong, I am an Indian and a huge Indian fan but the attitudes of players of late and the high-handedness and "holier than thou" attitude of BCCI has just let things get so bad it is just despicable. While some of these young cricketers might have achieved some success, the words "grace" and "class" would never appear when their profiles written down the line.

    Lastly, imagine the Australians players like Symonds, Ponting and Hayden having a drink and discussing this incident!!!

  • KingDPac on April 27, 2008, 14:44 GMT

    Its been a long time since Harbajan is getting away with his short temper. He acts as if its his right to be arrogant. This slapping incident is a shame for cricket and the slap is infact on the face of indian cricket supporters. If he can do this to his team mate in front of the whole world, i wonder the way he must be behaving to juniors in the dressing room. I hope the BCCI give a strog signal and give bhajji what he deserves.... atleast a years time to cool his brains.

  • Bendrix on April 27, 2008, 14:41 GMT

    Thank heaven a journalist has had the courage and sense to write as Mr. Gupta has. Harbhajan and Sreesanth have had carte blanc to behave as they please largely down to the weakness of the BCCI in reprimanding them for previous indiscretions,& the weakness of the ICC in confronting the BCCI over the conduct of its' teams. Harb and Sree have consistently displayed a childish petulance when playing demonstrating an immaturity which has been allowed to go unchecked through blind eyes being turned. For those that defend Sree in this, when was the last time you saw him play and he didn't 'run into' a batsmen, etc., etc. I feared that this incident would be swept under the carpet, but I was greatly heartened by Yuvraj's prompt condemnation of Harbs behaviour. I would hope that Harb gets a very long ban, and Sree learns from this. Aside from the rights and wrongs, I believe India would be a much stronger team without them and the bad press their behaviour brings.

  • KVenu on April 27, 2008, 14:32 GMT

    Lets not decide who is villian and who is Hero. But certainly, we can put our views. Is there anything more than Hero and Villian in this incident? If Sreeshant is agresive, why he did not react to Bajji? If Bajji is provoked by other senior played would he react the similar way? Only answer i have for both the question is Senior Vs Junior in the team. Is there anything hidden in our Indian team? Is it something like Junior Vs Senior in a university? Media should try to think three dimentionaly and bring out to public different thoughts instead of deciding as they wish.

  • preempalaver on April 27, 2008, 14:20 GMT

    I don't know why averyone says that the way Harbhajan and Sree Santh behave is indicative of the new India . Hardly . Look at Dhoni , Yuva Raj ,R.P.Singh Gambhir and any number of new faces in the Indian team - they play hard but fair .harbhajan and Sree Santh donot belong to that category . Harbhajan got away because he has as a patron the most cricket player in India who masks his true colours behind a front of seeming maturity and reasonableness . Harbhajan the serial offender should be banned for life and Sree Santh from the IPL and international cricket for one year .

  • Farce-Follower on April 27, 2008, 14:00 GMT

    So this was our Gen X or Y or Z. Two utterly irresponsible and immature cricketers. One with spurious aggression that ultimately proved infantile and the other with a volatile temperament that turned out to be violent.

    Just a few weeks back many of us said " May their tribe increase and a brave new generation emerge". It is time we made judge our icons by a more mature yardstick.

  • monkeybald on April 27, 2008, 13:51 GMT

    There was a time when you guys would actually produce some good cricket writing. That sadly does not seem to be the case anymore. As a journalist, one would hope you would produce an objective and rational viewpoint. You massively fail on both counts. The issue here is simple -- The captain of one side has physically assaulted a fellow cricketer from the opposing team. One cannot condone such an action. Harbhajan has to be punished -- not because he is a bad boy or a miffed mother-in-law, but because he has acted against the ICC code of conduct. One must set an example because our children are watching cricket. In this facile piece of writing you have attempted to justify Harbhajan's antics, arguing that Sreesanth had it coming, throwing in the hackneyed shenanigans surrounding 'the newly found Indian aggression'. Markedly bad piece of writing. I am certainly not reading your writings anymore.

  • SujithBabu on April 27, 2008, 13:29 GMT

    "have you ever witnessed two Australians enacting the Mohali scenes? - "

    -- Dear writer, please do some research before you write anything like this. There is biography by Shane Warne on how physical they got at the Australian Cricket Academy in Perth where he was getting coached. If I remember correctly, Joe Angel, the Western Australian bowler was one of the persons involved in the physical altercations.

    Also remember the shoulder charging Stuart MacGill gave to RamNaresh Sharwan. Kepler Wessels gave Kapil Dev a shin slap with his bat when Kapil mankaded one of the SA batsmen in 1993. Was anything done on any of these? Please give the Indians some credit for doing the right thing by banning Harbhajan.

  • Rajesh. on April 27, 2008, 13:24 GMT

    They (The BCCI) saw this coming and yet kept quiet... If they say they din't see this coming either they are fooling us or themselves or both !

    Both Harbhajan and Sreesanth have to be taught a lesson. And not just them but the new breed of young cricketers in India who never really understand what aggression is.

    May be they can be educated on this... And who better to teachn them than Anil Kumble !!

  • ToTellUTheTruth on April 27, 2008, 12:47 GMT

    Spoiled brats. That's what both these guys are. Bhajji got the nation's support in the racism row, because the same media has portrayed him as a saint. Also, there was never convincing proof besides "he said", "he said". But this is deplorable behavior. If they were kids, they would be given time out. May be the same needs to be applied to them as well? Time out from team India, IPL etc. etc. for at least six months? Hurt them where it hurts them most..i.e. on their wallets.

  • Aussie_Loves_Cricket on April 27, 2008, 12:23 GMT

    How come the Australians or South Africans haven't been blamed.

    To all cricket lovers in India - take off your rose coloured glasses.

    To all those who admire the BCCI cricket power with the view that its time to teach the English and Australians that we are not in control... waht was so worng with the past administrations? Who was dealt with unfairly? Why does the BCCI Board endorse Zimbabwe?

    Sometimes it is necessary for things to get worse before they can get better. The Harbijan episode in Australia was sad. The bullying to choose umpires that will or will not officiate is a disgrace. I can see a split from the ICC and we will be the poorer for it. The BCCI will remain the richest but will be just as cricket poor as other nations when the great teams of the East and West do not play each other.

    Re the BCCI riches - if they are so cash rich why do we not see major improvemtns in amenities for the paying patrons?

  • Mmunot on April 27, 2008, 11:56 GMT

    This column should be lying on the table of Lalit Modi and Sharad Pawar. It was Mr. Pawar who took a staunch support of Singh in the racism incident in Australia. Everybody who knows Harbhajan would have easily guessed that he definately would have made racist comments. And anybody who even have a slight knowledge of cricket, surely knows the unchallenged and unjustified powers that BCCI have in ICC. But now the ball's in there court and they have to take the decision for Singh's antiques. Shohaib Akhtar hit Asif in the dressing room and was banned for 5 YEARS from International Cricket by PCB (which was fair enough taking account of his career history). But Singh went WAY over the line by manhandling Sreesanth on the FIELD OF PLAY. Now we all know Sreesanth is NO SAINT. He would have been more provocative then just 'HARD LUCK' thing. Singh should definately be given LIFE BAN or atleast 5 Years from ALL FORMS OF CRICKET. Now its time for Mr. LALIT 'MOSES' MODI to take call. Its his IPL

  • Sniper on April 27, 2008, 11:43 GMT

    Both Harbhajan and Sreesanth are not fit to represent the country in cricket as they do not know how to behave on and off the field.Though Harbhajan committed the major offence of slapping Sreesanth, Sreesanth is no saint and has been annoying the opposition all the time.Both should be banned not only from the IPL but also from all forms of cricket. They can instead play 'street cricket' for which they are ideally suited.It is high time that the BCCI took stern action against both these misguided cricketers. Sniper

  • sajanq8 on April 27, 2008, 11:32 GMT

    So much for ICL & BCCI. When has BCCI ever given a thought about the country and the millions of commoners dying for the game and the country. Money has ruled the game and the players have grown taller than the game and the country. Both Bajji & Sree needs to be given a kick on their behind. Have they not been more interested in stirring up controversies than wickets of their opponents? They are a shame to the gentleman's game and to India itself? When Sree resorted to sledging in Australia, there were quite a few who praised him as the "mordern youth of India" - as some one not bending down to the whites! Let him first make sure that he can keep his place in the team than considering him above the stalwarts like Tendulkar, Ganguly or Dravid. Give respect and earn respect - sledge and get sledged! Shame to be seen on the feild weeping like a kid and where did his aggressiveness dissapear to all of a sudden. Let both Harbhajan & Sreesanth watch cricket than play cricket for some time.

  • JB77 on April 27, 2008, 11:21 GMT

    As an Australian supporter I was convinced that no good would come from this IPL tournament. Turns out I was wrong. This has got to be the funniest thing I've ever seen in all my years of watching cricket. Plus there's the added joy of watching all the Indian fans, who swore all last summer that Harbahjan (and all the members of the Indian team) we completely incapable of doing anything even slightly naughty, now lining up to whine about how terrible he is.

  • jojohn on April 27, 2008, 11:16 GMT

    If aggression on and off the field is a natural consequence of the modern,confident,testosterone tanked Indian cricketer, what would the response to a slap be? Certainly not a public bawl, I would have thought. It makes me wonder if these men are not just aping the australians as far as on field aggression and sledging goes. Any guesses to how a McGrath or Waugh would have responded to being slapped. Would they have cried?

  • vj_skyline on April 27, 2008, 10:39 GMT

    I totally agree with the article. Sreesanth, his unwanted for antics and Harbhajan who mostly fights instead of competing. All these things show how immature these two players are. To top it all, Sreesanth crying on field, shows how much he tries to act out his fake aggression when bowling. But now everyone knew, thats how he is and thats how he reacts when given a reply. Further more Harbhajan has earned a bad name for the team and officials who have all supported him. Now they would feel like they have done wrong in supporting him. Bad guys...totally bad. I could already hear d aussies giggling. Guys, tis time to grow up. Play gud cricket, if ur frustrated, shoe it but dont fake aggression. Its Indian Cricket, not a lagaan movie.

  • Grumbletas on April 27, 2008, 10:33 GMT

    Yes you can hear me chuckling. I never had any doubt that Mr Innocent Singh used a racist comment to Andrew Symonds. He was considered to be not guilty by Indian supporters because it was Australian cricketers that testified against him. The much maligned match referee who gave the 3 match ban said he knew racism when he saw it and being a Soth African who lived through the apartheid era, you would have to say he had some forst hand knowledge.

    Now the chickens have come to roost for Harbhajan Singh because he has beeen accused of striking an Indian player in India.

    No domineering despicable foriegners involved this time, I wonder if Mr Singh will get this monkey off his back. He is probably the worst behaved international cricketer of his era.

  • RoyalTravancore on April 27, 2008, 10:30 GMT

    The same sort of incidents happend in IPL recently,Afridi-Shane warn and some momentry staring from brett lee as well.Those players of class have naver taken the incidnets to levels of insanity.But manhandling cannot be accepted at any levels and now defamed the sancity of Indian cricket. Harbajan should be given a life long bang considering his past history ,inolved in nearly 10 incidents breaking ICC code of conduct, including abusing the umpires.A mere apology citing momentry lack of sanity is not convincing.BCCI already lost its sense of proportion through sydeny incident can reedeem itself by taking a responsible and tough action on Harbajan.

  • Rajavina on April 27, 2008, 10:29 GMT

    From what little I have seen in UK TV it is very unfortunate that such an incident has happened. As the article clearly said it is time bomb that was about to go. What Harbajan could not do againt australian sledging he took it against a smaller oppenent. I think he considers himself as senior player who could get away with anything. Sreeshanth is no different, he was due for something like this for sometime. Attitude of Harbhajan towards Sreeshanth was not appropriate even during IND Vs SA. I dont think India needs any player of this nature. Level 4 punishment must be issued not only to players who commit such grave indecipline but also to repeated offenders of the game.

  • Afta on April 27, 2008, 10:22 GMT

    Well, you cannot clap with one hand, so get down to the bottom of the saga. Nobody is an angel and the provoked and the provoker if found guilty should be dealt with appropriately. The only question that I am asking 'is Harbajan the Shoaib Akthar of Pakistan'? I wonder how the players will handle the new culture inculcated into the Idian team about aggression. If you cannot handle that, then sad to say it's an "attitude problem".

  • rtom on April 27, 2008, 9:28 GMT

    send these two guys home.. let them watch cricket in TV only.. they are not fit to be in the Indian team.. too much drama from both of them...

  • thaikkathameed on April 27, 2008, 9:25 GMT

    This type of indiscipline should not be allowed anymore. The punishment is long due. Why blame other nations when we are ourself indulge in such cheap gimmicks. As for Sreeshanth he deserved what he got because he acts as he is the only one who is playing the game of cricket. Like the Pakistan cricket board who has banned Shoaib Akhtar for five years Harbhajan too should be banned for at least two years. Both Bajji and Sree should be removed from the Indian cricket team and the BCCI will be sendin a strong message to all the players.

  • 12thman on April 27, 2008, 9:23 GMT

    When the fiasco erupted in Sydney, I was sympathetic to Harbhajan's cause. It now seems like he needs to attend Anger Management sessions to curtail his aggression. This seems to be happening on a regular basis now. I think Harbhajan needs to be sidelined for a few games and counselled. Also someone needs to speak to Sreesanth about his on field aggression. He is starting to look like a "Jack Ass" and is an embarassment for Indians all over the world. His behaviour only goes to show what gentlemen we had in Kapil, Srinath & Kumble. My advice to Sreesanth is ' If you don't know how & when to sledge, DON'T DO IT". You look like an idiot in whatever you are trying to do.

  • jamrith on April 27, 2008, 9:06 GMT

    I agree with the writer, the BCCI has handled these guys with kid gloves, now some hard slaps are called for, banning Harbhajan for his bestial behaviour and Sreesanth for his continual posturing and pouting ( he did it against Kamran Akmal in one of the IPL matches, against De Villiers in the Test match against South Africa)and then his shameful post-match bawling last Friday. In addition, the IPL should back up its much-hyped pre-tournament pledge of good conduct etc. and ban both these players. These guys will react only when it hits their pockets. At the end of the day, let us also remember that neither of these players, or any player for that matter, is indispensable.

  • sree_indian on April 27, 2008, 8:55 GMT

    I think the whole episode is a bit overrrated! Although the BCCI had reacted angrily to the Sreesanth-Harbhajan incident, it had actually achieved the intention behind the wonderful concept of IPL. Look at this - a player born in Punjab, playing for Mumbai (state borders broken), slapping another player from the opposite side (a Keralite playing for Punjab - the mother land of the beater!), eventhough they both play for the same country(battle is so fierce - and no country for fighters!) and the guy who got the beating goes crying(drama, entertainment) and gets hugs and comforts from a Srilankan player, Kumar Sangakkara (universal brotherhood) and an actor from Bollywood, Priety (sport has no barrier) and the reporters around the world fighting in darkness over truths and half truths. See the postive side of the story and this is no big bomb waiting to explode !

  • jamesb on April 27, 2008, 8:49 GMT

    Scyld Berry has been proved correct when he stated in this year's Wisden that it wouldn't be long before cricketers became involved in onfield violence. I would bet that he didn't expect his prophesy to come true quite so soon. Harbhajan Singh is an arrogant, petulant man, and Sreesanth's behaviour has become increasingly bizarre and childish with time. Do we really want to see cricketers emulating the attitudes of spoilt, over-indulged, overpaid premier league football players? Compare this incident with the Chelsea/Man Utd game yesterday. This is what happens when sportsmen are given too much money and too much attention. Just like children, in fact.

  • jaok on April 27, 2008, 8:47 GMT

    I really welcome this article about two crazy players . I was so felt bad when sreesanth show his immature aggressiveness to Mohammed Kaif when he got out during the match between Punjab and Rajasthan. This is just one example and there is a good proverb, 'whatever you seed, you will reap', that is what exactly happened here. I am sure Sreesanth might have provoked Harbajan clearly which led to this slapping incident. I do favour of strong punishment against Harbajan as for a long time,and sreesanth also punished both are defacing the value of gentleman's game what current indian players like sachin,dravid,kumble,Ganguly,Dhony&laxman have shown to the world. James

  • Katri on April 27, 2008, 8:39 GMT

    The make and mould of the Indian cricketer has changed and the contrast is best illustrated by the Indian test and ODI teams. But sledging, gesticulating and foul-mouthing your opponents just because one is from a rural background does not translate into "being proud" or for that matter, winning matches. Does it mean that Sachin, Dravid, Gangulay and Laxman are "less proud" about playing for India at the highest level than Harbhajan, Dhoni or Sreesanth? Sir Viv Richards, born in the tiny island of Antigua, is as "rustic" as rustic can get. But he opened his mouth only to pop a blob of chewing gum and opened his shoulders only to take the opposition bowlers to the cleaners. And as far a "pride" is concerned, to quote Ritchie Benaud "there has probably never been a cricketer more proud than Vivian Richards to have played on a cricket field". To further my point, "Curtly (Ambrose) talk to no man", but he sure could take 400+ test wickets.

  • biju on April 27, 2008, 8:33 GMT

    The article is defenitely one sided and trying to defend Harbajan's act.It is too much from Harbajan who is trying to defame the spirit of cricket and the country.I think he deserves a life ban.How words like Hard luck can provoke a cricketer .He needs a ban for sure.Ho doesn't deserve to be a cricketer or to represent the country.

  • Revnq on April 27, 2008, 8:30 GMT

    Why is this a surprise, after what we saw in the series in Australia just gone? Whether or not you believe Harbhajan racially abused Symonds, the position of the BCCI would have emboldened him further. Is it that unreasonable to believe that, like an undisciplined child, Harbhajan is now predisposed to behave irrationally? I have to laugh at Talisman2007 though - Harbhajan not a perennial bad boy? Come now, he is surely one of, if not the most sanctioned cricketer playing the game.

  • h1t1t on April 27, 2008, 8:17 GMT

    Mr. Gupta, You have probably nationalized the issue rather than seeing it as individual player problem and have indirectly targeted new generation of Indian cricketers. Indian cricketers in the past have taken all the verbal abuse and kept quite. That doesn't make cricket a gentleman's game. It was never called beast's game because the abuse was taken by few countries which no longer are the case. Regarding Harbhajan issue, he is a known trouble maker and should be severely punished - no doubt about it. I don't see a problem with Sreeshant; many of us pass a comment to opposition but have anybody slapped you for it? If he does it in Public often; it is enough to become a criminal in future. BCCI should act like a father than a mother this time - BAN Harbhajan from this year's IPL - So far it has been a great success ; let it be in disciplinary standards as well. Also BCCI should be aware that lot of youngsters and kids are crazy for Twenty20 and the action should send across a message

  • SunilPotnis on April 27, 2008, 8:05 GMT

    Being a cricket game fan, I can say that these two players Harbhajan & Sreesanth have bigger mouth than their game quality on the field. It is high time Indian Cricket board let them know, No individual is above the game. It is time for the authorities to keep them in check else players will take it for granted that they can get away with anything.

  • Harinder_Jadwani on April 27, 2008, 8:00 GMT

    Mr. Gupta is correct on one count - the Australians will be smiling - at this incident - but also because ignorant fools and MORONS like Mr. Gupta continue to misrepresent what happened in Sydney - which was one of the most shameful incidents in world cricket, and one which depicted the Australians as the worst villains in world cricket.

    Is this moron Gupta blaming Harbhajan because the arrogant bully Hayden publicly insulted him? Is that Harbhajan's fault? And as for what happened in Sydney, the ABSYMALLY IGNORANT Mr. Gupta should read the judgment of the New Zealand judge who heard the so-called racism charge...IT WAS MOST CERTAINLY NOT DISMISSED ON A TECHNICALITY. IT WAS THROWN OUT BECAUSE THE JUDGE DID NOT BELIEVE A WORD OF WHAT THE FOUR AUSSIES WHO TESTIFIED, SAID AGAINST HARBHAJAN. THEIR OWN EVIDENCE TOTALLY LACKED CREDIBILITY. ALL SAID HARBHAJAN SPOKE ONLY IN INDIAN LANGUAGE, EXCEPT FOR ONE ENGLISH WORD..THE AUSSIE EVIDENCE ITSELF PROVED BHAJJI SAID MAKI, NOT MONKEY.

  • muski on April 27, 2008, 8:00 GMT

    Well Mr Gupta is "Spot on" the fact that nobody has so far kicked up their backside. Its amazing to see some people commenting the views expressed in this article as anti India.One guy goes to extent to blaming Rusticity for the agression.That can be no excuse for such ridiculous behaviour. Even if the benefit is to be given to his rustic backgound, he certainly has played enough to know what is acceptable behaviour. With India virtually controlling this game with money and the power associated with it, isnt it shameful that these 2 bad boys continue with their antics time and again and in the process embarass both BCCI and India.IPL should give a death blow to such issues by banning Harbhajan for life from all forms of Cricket. Mabye Mr Sidhu could initiate him into Politics as such agression may be required in the Parliament. Lets us not be surprised if Mr Mukesh Ambani decides to pack off Harbhajan. He is dangerous role model for budding youngsters.

  • rajachandra on April 27, 2008, 7:58 GMT

    It is unfair to compare the theatrics of Sree with Bajji. It is also unfair to mock at the visibly shaken and crying Sree. It just shows he is still a kid beneath his aggressive and maddening expressions. There is no iota doubt if Bjji was at the receiving end it would have been murder no less like siddu variety. Sree dramatics on the field has been mostly entertaining and may be he needs to mature and control his emotions a bit. In Bajji's case it always involved verbal abuse and has never been appreciated.

  • SRXT on April 27, 2008, 7:49 GMT

    what i can't understand is the criticism sreesanth is getting for this. if your 'older brother' were to make a supposed unprovoked attack on you, would you not be upset? i'm sure you would. perhaps he should have held the emotion in until he was off the pitch, but he hardly deserves to be scorned for crying on the pitch. football players do it all the time, and they're grown men too.

    sreesanth is a hothead, i'm not surprised that more than one emotion boils over on the pitch. sledging the opposition and being attacked by a teammate are two completely different things. we know sreesanth can handle sledging, as does andre nel, because he got hit for 6 for doing it.

    personally, i am a sreesanth fan (as you can probably tell already), and think he makes the game interesting. he's young and fearless. he took it to the ockers, when nobody else would. that's what i like about him. so long as he leaves the attitude on the pitch.

  • SajinVarghese on April 27, 2008, 7:28 GMT

    I really welcome this article as it depicts the reality of two prodigal sons of Indian cricket. I was so felt bad when sreesanth show his immature aggressiveness to Mohammed Kaif when he got out during the match between Punjab and Rajasthan. This is just one example and there is a good proverb, 'whatever you seed, you will reap', that is what exactly happened here. I am sure Sreesanth might have provoked Harbajan clearly which led to this slapping incident. I do favour of strong punishment against Harbajan as for a long time, he is defacing the value of gentleman's game what current indian players like sachin,dravid, kumble & laxman have shown to the world.

  • Vnod on April 27, 2008, 7:03 GMT

    The tone of the article deems towards manipulation of the role of Sreesanth in the incident. Harbhajan being the captain of a side has extra responsibility. Slapping someone in the first place, whatever the provocation, if any, is totally unacceptable. Having a consideration of playing for the same country and also the additional responsibility of being the leader of a team, makes Harbhajan Singh's act inexcusable. The author seems to have completely overlooked these facts and passed on his own judgement on what Sreesanth's role in the event was. These kind of articles either can wait till all the facts have come out or CRICINFO should audit these interpretations more strictly. Isn't it the same CRICINFO who mentioned a day before that Sreeshanth had said "hard luck" to Harbhajan? So in a way you guys are contradicting yourself, by publishing articles , of this tone. If someone is a victim, and someone is an aggressor, let us get that point straight before we read interpretations.

  • crickmanster on April 27, 2008, 6:38 GMT

    I fully agree with Mr. Gupta the behaviour of these two cricketers is a time bomb waiting to go off.The behaviour of Harbhajan and Sreesanth has been deplorable and the BCCI has been supporting them and taking no action against them. I also agree with Priety Zinta that she, as part owner of the franchisee team,will not withdraw her complaint against Harbhajan as she cannot tolerate injustice. Under the IPL set up it is the franchisee owners who are responsible for their teams and the BCCI/IPL should only act as a referee/umpire, and not pressurise the Mohali team to withdraw the complaint.The BCCI should set an example by giving the maximum punishment as per ICC code so that the youngsters (under 19 world cup winning team) know that such behaviour will not be tolerated.

  • DesiPathan on April 27, 2008, 6:29 GMT

    " What will be harder to tackle is the growing culture of aggression from where this incident emerged. It is not natural to Indian cricketers"

    What the executive editor of cricinfo fails to realise is that the make and model of the quintessential "Indian" cricketer has changed in the 21st century.He is no more the city bred middle class brahmin boy but the rustic aggresive proud Indian from the villages. The pathans ,dhonis and harbhajans are fundamentally different from the manjrekars,dravids and venkatesh prasads of India.they want to win and not surprisingly more often than not they do.

  • The_Wog on April 27, 2008, 6:25 GMT

    At first I thought Singh would be given a token suspension - he would get the severest possible penalty that didn't interfere with him turning out for India.

    But hang on - what he's done is MUCH worse than bringing the GAME of cricket into disrepute - he's brought IPL into disrepute!! I'm now not ruling out a big stick being taken to him, especially with IND only playing some meaningless ODIs for months.

  • Homer2007 on April 27, 2008, 6:09 GMT

    Mr Gupta,

    You write "It is no coincidence that he was at the centre of the two major incidents during India's tour of Australia earlier this year - the charge of racism in Sydney, from which he was let off on a technicality" - a statement that is factually incorrect .

    Harbhajan was fined half his match fee after pleading guilty to using offensive language against Andrew Symonds during Sydney Test under clause 2.8 of the ICC Code of Conduct.

    Judge John Hansen said Harbhajan might have received a tougher penalty had the ICC correctly informed him about all his prior convictions, which is not the same as getting off the charges of racism on a technicality( unless you are suggesting that he was indeed guilty of the charges of racism and got away with it - which is tantamount to slander)

    As regards the racism charge, John Hensen's report - http://icc-cricket.yahoo.com/media-release/2008/january/media-release20080130-59.html

    Thanks,

  • akshaytheman on April 27, 2008, 6:05 GMT

    I do agree that Harbhajan is out of control and this incident shouldn't have happened. However, i think the writer of this article is purposely blaming everything on India rather than the individuals. Indian cricket is not the one to blame here rather its their actions that have not set harbhajan right. He should be banned for at least 6 months and than only he would learn his lesson. Dragging the Australian issue into this that took place not so long ago is like adding fuel to the fire and therefore Mr. Writer please stop this. The past is gone, you don't see everyone blaming Germany for killing so many people, Hitler was the one to blame (another individual). So, stop creating a negative image for INDIA!

  • jarydd on April 27, 2008, 5:59 GMT

    i'm actually surprised cricinfo published this article as it so blatantly runs contrary to cricinfo's pro indian agenda. harbajan has been bringing the game into disrepute for over ten years and sreesanth is a clown who has shown that for all his antics and "aggression" he's nothing more than a hyperactive child. you're right jayadita, I am chuckling at what has come to pass. chuckling, but not surprised.

  • Talisman2007 on April 27, 2008, 5:44 GMT

    Frankly I am a little dissapointed by the tone of this article. While no one disagrees that, Harbachan, if he has acted as alleged, then, he has let himself and his franchise and a lot of other people down. He as a senior cricketer should have known better than to respond to a potential taunt from an adversery in such a manner. As a PRO, you are not supposed to cross a line. If he did, then he must suffer the consequences.

    The point where I disagree with the author is, the tone that he adopts where somehow, he projects both Sree and Harbachan as perenennial bad boys. The incident in the test match is normal and Baggi had every right to be annoyed. HAyden's remarks are a thing of the past and dont know how Baggi is responsible for that. Is it possible these cricketers still have a lot of growing up to do and will get better with time?

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  • Talisman2007 on April 27, 2008, 5:44 GMT

    Frankly I am a little dissapointed by the tone of this article. While no one disagrees that, Harbachan, if he has acted as alleged, then, he has let himself and his franchise and a lot of other people down. He as a senior cricketer should have known better than to respond to a potential taunt from an adversery in such a manner. As a PRO, you are not supposed to cross a line. If he did, then he must suffer the consequences.

    The point where I disagree with the author is, the tone that he adopts where somehow, he projects both Sree and Harbachan as perenennial bad boys. The incident in the test match is normal and Baggi had every right to be annoyed. HAyden's remarks are a thing of the past and dont know how Baggi is responsible for that. Is it possible these cricketers still have a lot of growing up to do and will get better with time?

  • jarydd on April 27, 2008, 5:59 GMT

    i'm actually surprised cricinfo published this article as it so blatantly runs contrary to cricinfo's pro indian agenda. harbajan has been bringing the game into disrepute for over ten years and sreesanth is a clown who has shown that for all his antics and "aggression" he's nothing more than a hyperactive child. you're right jayadita, I am chuckling at what has come to pass. chuckling, but not surprised.

  • akshaytheman on April 27, 2008, 6:05 GMT

    I do agree that Harbhajan is out of control and this incident shouldn't have happened. However, i think the writer of this article is purposely blaming everything on India rather than the individuals. Indian cricket is not the one to blame here rather its their actions that have not set harbhajan right. He should be banned for at least 6 months and than only he would learn his lesson. Dragging the Australian issue into this that took place not so long ago is like adding fuel to the fire and therefore Mr. Writer please stop this. The past is gone, you don't see everyone blaming Germany for killing so many people, Hitler was the one to blame (another individual). So, stop creating a negative image for INDIA!

  • Homer2007 on April 27, 2008, 6:09 GMT

    Mr Gupta,

    You write "It is no coincidence that he was at the centre of the two major incidents during India's tour of Australia earlier this year - the charge of racism in Sydney, from which he was let off on a technicality" - a statement that is factually incorrect .

    Harbhajan was fined half his match fee after pleading guilty to using offensive language against Andrew Symonds during Sydney Test under clause 2.8 of the ICC Code of Conduct.

    Judge John Hansen said Harbhajan might have received a tougher penalty had the ICC correctly informed him about all his prior convictions, which is not the same as getting off the charges of racism on a technicality( unless you are suggesting that he was indeed guilty of the charges of racism and got away with it - which is tantamount to slander)

    As regards the racism charge, John Hensen's report - http://icc-cricket.yahoo.com/media-release/2008/january/media-release20080130-59.html

    Thanks,

  • The_Wog on April 27, 2008, 6:25 GMT

    At first I thought Singh would be given a token suspension - he would get the severest possible penalty that didn't interfere with him turning out for India.

    But hang on - what he's done is MUCH worse than bringing the GAME of cricket into disrepute - he's brought IPL into disrepute!! I'm now not ruling out a big stick being taken to him, especially with IND only playing some meaningless ODIs for months.

  • DesiPathan on April 27, 2008, 6:29 GMT

    " What will be harder to tackle is the growing culture of aggression from where this incident emerged. It is not natural to Indian cricketers"

    What the executive editor of cricinfo fails to realise is that the make and model of the quintessential "Indian" cricketer has changed in the 21st century.He is no more the city bred middle class brahmin boy but the rustic aggresive proud Indian from the villages. The pathans ,dhonis and harbhajans are fundamentally different from the manjrekars,dravids and venkatesh prasads of India.they want to win and not surprisingly more often than not they do.

  • crickmanster on April 27, 2008, 6:38 GMT

    I fully agree with Mr. Gupta the behaviour of these two cricketers is a time bomb waiting to go off.The behaviour of Harbhajan and Sreesanth has been deplorable and the BCCI has been supporting them and taking no action against them. I also agree with Priety Zinta that she, as part owner of the franchisee team,will not withdraw her complaint against Harbhajan as she cannot tolerate injustice. Under the IPL set up it is the franchisee owners who are responsible for their teams and the BCCI/IPL should only act as a referee/umpire, and not pressurise the Mohali team to withdraw the complaint.The BCCI should set an example by giving the maximum punishment as per ICC code so that the youngsters (under 19 world cup winning team) know that such behaviour will not be tolerated.

  • Vnod on April 27, 2008, 7:03 GMT

    The tone of the article deems towards manipulation of the role of Sreesanth in the incident. Harbhajan being the captain of a side has extra responsibility. Slapping someone in the first place, whatever the provocation, if any, is totally unacceptable. Having a consideration of playing for the same country and also the additional responsibility of being the leader of a team, makes Harbhajan Singh's act inexcusable. The author seems to have completely overlooked these facts and passed on his own judgement on what Sreesanth's role in the event was. These kind of articles either can wait till all the facts have come out or CRICINFO should audit these interpretations more strictly. Isn't it the same CRICINFO who mentioned a day before that Sreeshanth had said "hard luck" to Harbhajan? So in a way you guys are contradicting yourself, by publishing articles , of this tone. If someone is a victim, and someone is an aggressor, let us get that point straight before we read interpretations.

  • SajinVarghese on April 27, 2008, 7:28 GMT

    I really welcome this article as it depicts the reality of two prodigal sons of Indian cricket. I was so felt bad when sreesanth show his immature aggressiveness to Mohammed Kaif when he got out during the match between Punjab and Rajasthan. This is just one example and there is a good proverb, 'whatever you seed, you will reap', that is what exactly happened here. I am sure Sreesanth might have provoked Harbajan clearly which led to this slapping incident. I do favour of strong punishment against Harbajan as for a long time, he is defacing the value of gentleman's game what current indian players like sachin,dravid, kumble & laxman have shown to the world.

  • SRXT on April 27, 2008, 7:49 GMT

    what i can't understand is the criticism sreesanth is getting for this. if your 'older brother' were to make a supposed unprovoked attack on you, would you not be upset? i'm sure you would. perhaps he should have held the emotion in until he was off the pitch, but he hardly deserves to be scorned for crying on the pitch. football players do it all the time, and they're grown men too.

    sreesanth is a hothead, i'm not surprised that more than one emotion boils over on the pitch. sledging the opposition and being attacked by a teammate are two completely different things. we know sreesanth can handle sledging, as does andre nel, because he got hit for 6 for doing it.

    personally, i am a sreesanth fan (as you can probably tell already), and think he makes the game interesting. he's young and fearless. he took it to the ockers, when nobody else would. that's what i like about him. so long as he leaves the attitude on the pitch.