Great test match, but really bad smell on the field… Or was there?

05 Jan

As reported in The Australian:

INDIA spinner Harbhajan Singh faces being banned for the remainder of the Test series against Australia after being reported for racially abusing Andrew Symonds at the Sydney Cricket Ground yesterday.

In a sensational development that has completely overshadowed a brilliant century from Sachin Tendulkar on the third day of the second Test in Sydney, Harbhajan allegedly revived the terrible crowd abuse Symonds suffered during the recent one-day tour of India.

During the tour Symonds, the only black player in the Australian side, was abused with monkey chants.

Ricky Ponting made a complaint after Harbhajan confronted Symonds while batting yesterday.

Harbhajan has been reported by umpires Steve Bucknor and Mark Benson under clause 3.3 of the International Cricket Council code of conduct.

It carries a penalty of being banned for between two and four Tests or four to eight one-day matches.

It was at the end of a Brett Lee over that tensions boiled over.

On the way to a breezy 63, Harbhajan made a point of seeking out Symonds.

Tendulkar wandered over to join his batting partner and waved away Matthew Hayden as he turned to offer some well-chosen words to the noisy Harbhajan.

Unimpressed that Harbhajan had reopened a personal feud with Symonds, Ponting marched over and let Harbhajan know he should pull his head in.

By this stage umpires Bucknor and Mark Benson, who have barely had control of this game from the outset, were conferring and called Harbhajan over…

While this ought not to detract from an excellent day’s cricket, it is, if correctly reported, beyond the pale. I am all with Symonds on this one. The real monkeys — and I am in no way referring to race or ethnicity but rather to behaviour — may have exposed themselves here, don’t you think? Sure there’s sledging, part of the psyching out process, but then there’s sledging that just brings disgrace on the game and most of all on the sledger. I know Australian players have been famous for it at times, but there surely are limits, and this would appear to go way past the limit of what is acceptable.

If the report is true, of course: Harbhajan in racism row:

Harbhajan dismissed suggestions there was a racial element to the comments. “I did not say anything racist. I do not know what is going on,” he told the Herald. “I haven’t done anything, we were just talking. It wasn’t even sledging, it was just normal talk out on the cricket field. I was concentrating on my batting.

“I am here to play well for my country, to bowl well and to win this Test match. This is an important game for us and we have a chance to win, that’s what I’m focused on.”

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland confirmed an investigation was underway…

Fast bowler Brett Lee was also unwilling to shed any light on the contents of the mid-pitch conversation. “I know there was an issue out there and I think it’s best to ask the umpires about it,” he said.

Sachin Tendulkar, who was batting with Harbhajan at the time, said the altercation was light-hearted. “A couple of lines were exchanged here and there. It keeps happening every day. As long as the game moves on and the players don’t cross the limits, it’s fine, it’s good for the spectators. You sometimes also exchange humours and it’s funny.”

However, the matter appeared to be much more serious, and added an unsavoury element to the 129-run partnership between Harbhajan and Tendulkar…

Back in October 2007 the National Indigenous Radio Service reported:

Cricket Aust backs Indian board over racism saga

SYMONDS Andrew Symonds was again subjected to racist taunts during the loss to India in Mumbai. (Getty Images: Hamish Blair) The chief executive of Cricket Australia, James Sutherland, says he is happy with the Indian Cricket Board’s response to racist chants at Wednesday night’s one-day match. Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds was again subjected to racist taunts during the loss to India in Mumbai, six days after the original incident in Vadodara. Mr Sutherland says a statement issued by the Indian Cricket Board’s president Sharad Pawar, shows that it is taking a strong stand on the issue. “It’s really pleasing to see the announcements by the Indian Board president to condemn racism in cricket and whilst incidents in the last game in Mumbai are disappointing, it’s pleasing to see officials at the ground have taken a response to evict those people from the ground,” he said. Mr Sutherland says Andrew Symonds is refusing to dwell on the racist taunts he has endured while in India and praised the 32-year-old all-rounder on how he has handled a difficult situation with great maturity. “Andrew’s remarkable with the way he’s dealing with this matter. It’s not something that he’s necessarily comfortable with, but he sees that there’s no cause for reaction, because that only gives or I guess further inflames it,” he said.

Jason Gillespie is of Aboriginal descent too, as a matter of interest. “Jason Gillespie is a descendant of the Kamilaroi people of Indigenous Australians, and is the first acknowledged Aboriginal person to become a Test cricketer.”

Still, it isn’t up to me to make the judgement on yesterday. It will be interesting to see what is done about it. I saw only what anyone watching Channel Nine saw — play stopped, and a serious conversation, with hand over mouth just to annoy lip-readers in the commentary box or at home.


By 5.40 pm the Cricket had really developed drama of the more desirable kind. Australia 4/251 in their second innings and two of those wickets — Ponting (1) and Clark (0) went in the past few minutes. There will be overtime as there has been rain. It’s promising to be a nail-biter. One day to go. (Yes, you non-cricketing readers, games go on for days…)

8 January 2007

My, how this story has grown! I should also correct myself: I gather Symonds’s background is West Indian rather than Aboriginal; still, the fact he is not a “white man” remains relevant.

This entry was written at the time. Make sure you also read What a test match! written on Day 5, and And yet it really was, in many respects, a good and exciting game, that Second Test… written today.

30 January 2008

Fast forward to What price justice after this sorry saga?

Site Meter

Comments Off on Great test match, but really bad smell on the field… Or was there?

Posted by on January 5, 2008 in Australia, Cricket, Indigenous Australians, racism



Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: