Friday, January 11, 2008

Cricket and NO Beer

No sooner has the virtual ink dried on my Cricket & Beer post than virtual blood has been spilled all over the pitch separating the Australian and Indian teams mid way through their current tour.

Be warned. I am about to send down a couple of overs of short pitched, express paced and helmet-logo directed deliveries in a Beer Bloke attempt to dispel some misconceptions, correct some untruths and defend the honour of the game and it’s guardians. There will be no sooking to the third umpire. Pad up and don’t say I didn’t warn you.

First, the case details. The Indian cricket team has threatened to suspend its tour of Australia and renege on its responsibilities to the fans of the game by refusing to play scheduled games. They are doing this because one of their players has been found guilty of racial abuse of an opponent and suspended for three matches by an independent third party. In a SEPARATE issue, the quality of the umpiring during the second test match in Sydney was poor. It was probably worse than poor, but, like the players, the umpires are subject to being human and therefore subject to making mistakes.

The racist comment made by the Indian player and heard by three Australian players, was reported to the match referee by Australian captain, Ricky Ponting. He reported the incident after both teams captains were instructed before the match to report any instances of racist sledging. The taunt used was the same one used by Indian crowds during the October 07 one day series against Andrew Symonds, the same player subjected to the abuse on this occasion. The taunt used was ‘Monkey’. Australia won the test match with 7 balls or 8 minutes of play remaining to secure a record equalling 16th consecutive victory. Despite what you may learn from reading the articles written by the Indian press, these facts are not disputable.

Next, I will give you an accurate overview of the responses given by Indian cricket officials, Indian community representatives and Indian and Australian cricket fans. I will attempt to ‘hit each and every one of them for six’ as is what rubbish deserves.

I have played a bit of competitive cricket in my time and I am of the opinion that, if you are given out by the official, you go and if you have hit the ball and it is caught, you walk. I am also of the firm belief that this decision is mine and that if you believe differently then that is your right and I will back you. If an opposition player tells me that he has taken a fair catch, I accept his word. It is therefore NOT the place of the batsmen to decide what is or is not out or if a catch is fairly taken or not. So, to all the letter writers and hand-wringing whiners out there in newspaperland – this is NOT an issue at hand.

If an independent body hears all the available evidence and makes a decision – regardless of how harsh it seems – you either cop it sweet (like Darren Lehmann did when he swore IN THE CHANGEROOMS after being dismissed in a match and copped a five one-day game penalty) or you appeal the decision in the board’s legislated manner. You do not piss and moan and threaten to take your bat and ball and go home, nor do you claim racism and persecution and blame the very authority which you rely on for your bread and butter. You do not demand that an official elected by the sports’ governing body be removed because YOU think he should be. That is not the way a professional outfit behaves.

The Indian who is the president of the BCCI – the sports’ Indian governing body – claimed that “the honour of the Indian team and, for that matter, every Indian was at stake” as a result of the ban on their player. Bullshit, mate. He may have copped an unfair penalty, but the process was as per the regulations and based on the available evidence. Would the ‘honour of the Indian team’ be at stake had any of the twenty players to lose their wicket managed to last eight balls more than they did? If each batsman had stopped to scratch his arse for just less than thirty seconds each the game would have ended in a draw and the Indians would not be able to use the result as a bargaining tool or a posturing weapon.

The president of the United Indian Associations said in the Melbourne Herald Sun that the Australian team was ‘largely responsible for (the) grave state of affairs in Indian-Australian sporting relations’ because the umpires made a ‘dreadful umpiring decision that allowed Andrew Symonds to continue playing after he was clearly caught behind’. How that works, I don’t know, but here’s something to think about, based on this twisted logic. Sachin Tendulkar made more than a few runs after he was given not out LBW when on 36. Most observers agree that the decision was as incorrect as Symonds’. Tendulkar went on to make 154 not out, so if, as a reader suggests he ‘deducted the extra runs Symonds made and believes India won’ when they passed the “real” total then he and his mates need to be reminded that Tendulkar’s extra 118 runs come off as well and then be reminded that Australia CHOSE to declare it’s innings closed based on the ACTUAL REAL SCORE THAT IS IN THE HISTORY BOOKS, dickhead.

I know I’m gettin’ fired up here, but stick with me; it will all make sense in a minute. The spurious claims by Indian captain Anil Kumble that only his side was playing within the spirit of the game is as delusional as it is incorrect. Both sides made errors of judgement in claiming dubious wickets, appealing for others and disputing the umpires’ decisions IN THE HEAT OF THE MOMENT and both sides would probably like to have some of these occasions to replay. Sledging has been a cornerstone of the Australian arsenal, but this is only an effective tool when the team is already well on top of the opposition, so it’s not as if you can call it cheating.

As it is also unfair to say that the term ‘monkey’ should not be deemed offensive by Andrew Symonds who is an Australian with an African background. The Indians who are claiming that they have a Hindu Monkey God and this makes this a compliment rather than a slur need to be informed that the term was used in the context of Africans being only a small step removed from our primate friends and recently descended from the trees. This is the context within which the slur was used and the user knew it based on the publicity the crowd chanting incidents drew back in October. So cross that argument off your list as well.

In addition, you cannot claim that you NEVER said it, then say that you tried to TAKE IT BACK and then claim that you were saying it to SOMEONE ELSE and keep your credibility. Cop it and move on. This issue has been made more complicated than it should be by the many and varied claims of racism that always seem to come up when successful Australian sporting teams are involved. And to all the turn coats and whingers, who have filled the letters pages with crap about being ashamed of the winning culture and the perceived arrogance of the Aussie team, piss off and find a sport that excites a little less passion and controversy in your poor little sensitivities. Lawn bowls are always looking for spectators.

Now, finally, for my take on the reason for the whole shemozzle and the solution to short circuiting future implosions and international incidents. Beer and plenty of it. A quiet couple before the match and a couple after stumps during the game could only serve to foster relations between the teams. You can’t tell me that over the five days of a test match you can’t find an hour or two to clink glasses and talk a bit of bullshit. A few well chosen words over the top of a frosty glass of beer are the difference between a giggle over some dodgy umpiring calls and a full scale Indian –Australian cultural war.

The boys would all get together and talk a bit of trash about their opponents hair do or turban style and the way a bloke wears zinc cream on his mush and there would be room only for beer and cricket banter. Wankers need not apply.

And before I finish up I just want to point out that, before the introduction of the neutral umpire system, the last Indian to be out LBW on Indian soil was Mahatma Ghandi in a back yard game – and he walked. So don’t complain of ‘home town’ umpiring decisions. Play the game and accept the decisions made in the true spirit of the game. We want our kids to continue the traditions created by Bannerman and Grace and cemented by Bradman and Benaud and Worrell and left, today, in the hands of Ponting, Flintoff and Fleming. It’s the least that the game deserves.

Cheers and I hope that all your hooks are sixes,
Prof. Pilsner

Postscript; at the time of posting, the Indian team management has agreed to continue the tour ‘for the present’ but has not discounted the possibility of abandoning the trip should the ICC not kowtow to their churlish and petulant demands.

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