That is the headline in Peter Roebuck’s opinion piece today. It is a very well argued take on the latest developments in the Harbhajan Singh matter, judicious even, in my opinion.
…Brinkmanship or not, threatening to take their bat and ball home in the event of a resented verdict being allowed to stand was an abomination. It sets a dreadful precedent. What price justice now?
Not that the attempt made by Cricket Australia to broker a compromise had much more to commend it. Ricky Ponting and his players were entitled to take a stand on principle. As it happens, I thought their strategy unwise because they had fanned the flames, Anil Kumble had not been given a chance to intervene and the case was unwinnable…
As was inevitable, Harbhajan’s appeal was successful. Simply, there was not enough proof to justify a conviction. It does not matter what anyone thinks may have happened. Court cases are about facts, not opinions, or allegations or interpretations or guesses. Once the microphones and umpires could not back up the charges, the case was doomed. That does not make Harbhajan a hero. It is high time his seniors took him in hand. He has become a hothead with an unpleasant tongue.
Far from seeking revenge, the Australians should have treated him with derision. Throughout this episode, they have been driven not by reason but by a rage that ruined a match and imperilled a series. Harbhajan is not worth half as much. Nor is it wise to ignore Australia’s reputation as champion sledgers. Everything has a history.
All around, it has been a bad business. Over the years, India have often been represented by gentlemen with high principles and a strong sense of sportsmanship. Australia have not been so fortunate. But it seems that power has corrupted. It was intolerable that India’s one-day players were sent to Adelaide when they ought to have been practising hard in Melbourne…
See also Great test match, but really bad smell on the field… Or was there?, And yet it really was, in many respects, a good and exciting game, that Second Test…, Moir cricket… and Are Australians racist?
Update 31 January
International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive Malcolm Speed says the ICC has accepted the blame for the administrative blunder that enabled India spinner Harbhajan Singh to escape a stiffer penalty in his racial abuse case.
Harbhajan’s three-Test suspension for allegedly racially abusing Australia all-rounder Andrew Symonds during the contentious second Test in Sydney was overturned at a code of conduct appeals hearing in Adelaide on Tuesday.
At the hearing, the charge was downgraded to a level two charge of using abusive language and Harbhajan subsequently pleaded guilty, with appeals commissioner John Hansen fining the spinner half of his match fee.
However, Justice Hansen then revealed he would have handed out a stiffer penalty, including a possible suspension, had he been aware of Harbhajan’s full record.
Justice Hansen was only informed of one prior misdemeanour by Harbhajan, with three other previous offences overlooked by the ICC, including a one-match suspended sentence for showing dissent to an umpire in 2001.
Mr Speed issued a written statement today that acknowledged the ICC had been at fault.
“It is very unfortunate that human error led to Justice Hansen not having the full history of Harbhajan’s previous code of conduct breaches and the ICC accepts responsibility for this mistake,” Mr Speed said…