Friday, January 11, 2008
I believe in you Ricky Ponting
I can't believe how much tripe the media forces down our throats these days.
Let's establish some of the facts. Yes Australian players have been guilty of verbal sledging for a long time. But let's not be naive here though, other teams in world cricket have also done the same. Perhaps the reggae loving calypso kings of the 70s did not, but it has been common. Secondly there is a politically correct disease going around which basically says that all westerners should feel eternally guilty for racism while the former victims of the colonial world can lash out as much as they please with no condemnation at all.
Modern sporting institutions have tried to bring some equality to the playing field. I have generally little respect to the ICC, because they are corrupt and have pandered to the unequal demands of sub-continent countries and Zimbabwe in the past. But I do have respect for the ICC when they demand that the rules must be adhered to in the issue of abuse and racism.
Australia have now been the strongest team in cricket for around 15 years, and their reign is beginning to eclipse that of the West Indies before them. Other countries are tired of Australia winning all the time, and are finding any excuse to point the finger.
Back to the cold hard facts. When Australia toured India in October for a series of one day games, Harbajan Singh was guilty of calling Andrew Symonds a monkey, quite publicly. Apparently he believed that Symonds mixed African and European background has the appearance of a monkey. Spectators latched on to this and were also calling Symonds a monkey from the stand. Andrew Symonds was very big about this. Behind the scenes the Australians and Indians talked together and agreed that such talk would not happen again.
In the second test of the current series in Sydney, things flared up again. Harbajan Singh hit Brett Lee on the backside with his bat. Andrew Symonds felt this was over the line and confronted Singh on the matter. Singh proceeded with more monkey insults against Symonds. At the close of play on day 3, Anil Kumble (the Indian captain) requested Ricky Ponting (the Australian captain) to not make a formal complaint, but Ponting informed Kumble he had already done so.
At this point it must be mentioned that Ponting had done no wrong in reporting Singh. Singh had gone back on their verbal agreement from October. Kumble was hoping that it would blow over, but Symonds was offended and Ponting was within his rights to make the complaint.
The media had wildly attacked Ponting and the Australian team as bad sports. They have cited that Australia have often sledged and can not take their own medicine. But what does the media know of the things that have been said on the field in the past? The climate is changing, other teams have been guilty in the past, and all are expected to abide by the rules now, not just the Australians.
During the second test there were some bad decisions made by the umpires. Allegedly, Steve Bucknor made new fewer than 6 bad decisions. Of these decisions one went against Ricky Ponting and the other for him. When Ricky Ponting was given out LBW and he hid not agree, he stayed at the crease too long (as many a batsmen has done before accepting the umpires decision). When he returned to the dressing room he threw his bat on the floor. The cameras should not be allowed in the dressing rooms. this was Ponting's own place to let out his frustration. His frustration would have been as much in his failure for the fourth time this series as with an umpiring decision he did not like.
Whether Ponting was a bad sport over his dismissal is not actually connected to his formal complaint over racism. But the media have put all factors in one pot and labeled him as a cheat. The fact that Peter Roebuck from the Age newspaper demanded Ponting be sacked as a result is extremely arrogant, but that he went on to also demand that Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist resign over the incident makes me wonder if he is being bribed by an Indian bookmaker.
Ricky Ponting has done a lot of good for Australian cricket. In response to the accusation of arrogance he said that if his team were arrogant they would not have jumped up and down like schoolboys when they won narrowly on Sunday. If they had been arrogant they would have simply had a smug face as if they expected to win. This cricket team have always worked hard and they do not expect victory to come easily. Last year against England in Adelaide they looked as if they could lose but fought back hard to win.
The Australian cricket team are humans too. The Indian cricket team spat the dummy when they said they would go home if Harbajan Singh was not cleared. Their suspension of the tour was an act of bad sportsmanship. Ponting made an official complaint and the ICC have dealt with it through official channels. If the Indian team have complaints they can deal with it through official channels too. And the media should take their ball and go home. Let the cricketers get on with their cricket and stop interfering! As to why the Australian public have turned against Ponting, to me says that all their decisions are informed by a media with ulterior motives. Kind of reminds me of a recent election result.