January 9, 2008

Pitch Battle Off The Pitch

January 09, 2008 Posted by Vijay No comments
The news is out. Bhajji (Indian off spinner Harbhajan Singh) has been cleared to play for the Perth Test, and Steve Bucknor will not officiate in the test match starting on 16th January. While this has prompted widespread reactions across the media in Australia, the Indian media is bandying for all the good it has done. Well, atleast that's what they claim they have achieved.

The fact that I need not elaborate much on the sequence of events which have triggered the uproar across India especially, is for the simple reason that, you type Harbhajan in google, and there is no one link which doesn't carry the story. Nor do you have to go too far in looking for an Indian channel which doesn't air this story. That Indian media stokes up emotions much more, considering the emotional sentiment of the common Indian, is no surprise. Talk about patriotism, unflinching one for the Indian cricket team, that too involuntarily.

The battle for cricket supremacy has shifted from the cricketing pitch to the media pitch. The Indian media is virtually at loggerheads with the Australian media over the treatment of Bhajji especially. The biggest mistake Ponting made after the victory at SCG was to provoke the Indian media in the post match press conference. The mistake he now realises he did was, that there is only one cricket superpower (atleast financially), and that is India. Behaving rudely to the Indian media, after a controversial test match involving bizarre umpiring decisions, did not help matters. Worse still, his appealing and boisterousness and unsportstamanlike behaviour after the match when he forgot to shake hands, talk badly of a responsible captain.

The Indian media did not spare him after that, and with the clout of BCCI in world cricket, went about bashing up his reputation. One doesn't have to go back a long way when Ponting literally shoved away Sharad Pawar after winning the ICC Champions' Trophy in 2006. Indications were already there I guess. And when you are the bunny of a potentially victimisable player like Bhajji for an altercation on the cricket field, Ponting has all the right to have Bhajji out from an ensuing test match.

So, now shouldn't the Australian media too defend its players. Why of course they should ! And what a wonderful job they are doing of it. This article in The Australian claims if India had won the Test match at SCG there wouldn't have been a furore, and India wouldn't have hesitated in setting off to Canberra immediately. I would like to tell the author - "Mate, get your things straight. Umpiring decisions are part of the game, and can be forgiven. But not accusation of racism against an Indian player. And it is for this accusation that India wants an action against, and not against a blind umpire." Kumble has been a gentleman all through his cricketing career and a fighter at that. And for him to come out so openly against Ponting, one should definitely think seriously. Ponting has always had a history of bad behaviour, whilst Kumble has never had any. So, who would one believe ?

Now that the verdict is officially out, and Billy Bowden officially announced to officiate in the 3rd test at Perth, the Indian media claims victory. An understandably defeated Australian media, wishes the ICC doesn't let BCCI rule the ICC and dictate terms. Well, maybe their media should first look up the mirror and see whether they are right in encouraging Ricky Ponting for a start. Unfortunately, this battle, outside of the cricket pitch has been an ugly one. But, if there was one underdog in this battle, it was always Australia. In this case their media. Maybe they can now say BCCI's appeal off the pitch, is as strong and boisterous as Ponting's on pitch appeals. And as analogical as it can get, like Ponting won the match, BCCI will win it's match too ! This series is already a dead rubber !

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