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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Cricket: Controversy continues

Sports news Part 2

Moving onto cricket, and the controversial Sydney Test match between Australia and India continues to stimulate debate, argument and the occasional slur between the nations. It's an issue that has undoubtedly simmered for a long time and needed only slight prompting to come to the surface. In this case, that prompting was provided by an alleged racial insult made by an Indian player (Harbhajan Singh) towards an Australian with West Indian heritage (Andrew Symonds).

The reports in the media have evolved (some would say devolved) into a collection of insults, allegations and threats, including the possibility that the entire Tour would be called off mid-way through! Thankfully, that has not happened, though the means by which the ICC managed to save the Tour (sacking the umpire and allowing the Indian spinner Singh to play on despite the ban that was initially issued for his alleged racial slur) sets what is politely being called a "dangerous precedent". Effectively, the governing body has bowed to pressure from the Indian Cricket Board, which is the game's economic powerhouse, and thus possibly the real "governing body" of cricket...

But one thing that I have found interesting is the allegations that are made about the spirit in which Australia plays the game. The Indians alleged that the Aussies are cheats and don't play in the right spirit. Some Australian media and ex-players have even climbed into their own time, others have defended the team. But in doing some reading, I came across this excellent post on a forum (it's the very top post), which I think more accurately than any other captures the reason why teams who win must remain absolutely, utterly beyond reproach when it comes to their behaviour, both on and off the field.

Now, I agree with most of what the posters says - forums often tend to become platforms for people to write uncensored nonsense, but this is a great piece, well put together. I will however say that while I agree with the poster Beatnik, I also think that the Australians have not helped themselves with their off-field behaviour and some of the quotes. For example, now is probably not the time to be suggesting that Australia will not change their attitude towards the game, as the current players have done. They probably shouldn't, I agree, but there's a lot to be said for diplomacy, and even silence sometimes...

As I said, the only thing that can be guaranteed is that when you win, people will attack you, and so leaving the door even a crack open is enough for the masses to charge it down. But let's hope that now that cricket will continue, the situation can be resolved and the game can emerge with minimal scarring. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that is the naieve optimist in me speaking...