Allan Border said it was "totally inappropriate" and "plain wrong" for Sunil Gavaskar to link the death of David Hookes to the conduct of Australian cricketers on the field. Border said Gavaskar had missed the point and did not seem to appreciate that different behaviour was acceptable in different cultures.
"I consider Sunny a friend, but what he said about David Hookes and the behaviour of Australian cricketers was totally uncalled for," Border told The Australian. "What Sunny said on television was totally inappropriate."
Gavaskar suggested on ESPN the Australian players might get physically attacked if they used similar language in a bar as they use on the field. "There's the example of the late David Hookes," Gavaskar said. "Would they get away with it? Would they have a fist coming at their face or not?"
Border said there was no need to mention Hookes, who died after an altercation outside a Melbourne nightclub in 2004. "For [Gavaskar] to link David's death to players allegedly misbehaving on a cricket field is plain wrong," Border said. He argued that Gavaskar was misinterpreting Australia's aggressive brand of play.
"Where Australia may be seen to be playing the game hard and tough could be misconstrued on the subcontinent," Border said. "Similarly, the way India plays the game at times may not be to the liking of every Australian. Cricket is a global sport in which different cultures lock horns out in the middle. Only the nuances of the game may vary from country to country.
"While a cricketer on the subcontinent or the West Indies may find an Australian bowler's remark to a particular batsman of 'you lucky b------' offensive, to players in other teams it's not. Sunny has missed the point here badly. He's clearly overlooked the fact there are different cultures at work.
Darren Lehmann, a close friend of Hookes, backed Border's reaction. "I'm pretty disappointed with Gavaskar," Lehmann said. "His remarks only hurt David Hookes' family and friends, and tarnish Hookesy's memory. A man of Gavaskar's stature in the game of cricket should know better."
Lehamnn said Gavaskar's outburst was "in bad taste" and he had ignored the fact that umpires and match referees had the power to take action if players' behaviour on the field was inappropriate. "I came into the international arena a few years after he had retired," Lehmann said. "He was a player I admired. Not any more."