First of all, no matter Harbhajan Singh used that word or not, no one is guilty unless a crime his proved. Lack of sufficient evidences meant that Indian off spinner was not guilty of any racial abuse (here). If a charge is not proved, you cannot be hanged. Hence, there should not be so much of hue & cry which is there in Australian media. Harbhajan Singh has been charged and fined for using abusive language which he pleaded to guilty.
Now comes a point which most of us are missing, ICC always using different yardsticks for different countries. Calling someone Monkey doesn’t raise any eyebrows in India but it’s a racial word in Australia. They are happy to call or to be call Bastard but try doing the same in India and you run the risk of your balls being chopped off. These are cultural differences bound to exist. But if you charge someone because he has failed to understand this, do that for everyone. India dropped the charges against Brad Hogg and ICC also did not bother to take up the case after that. If I go kill someone, his family members report and take it back later, will I go scot-free? NO. But ICC turned deaf ears.
Harbhajan Singh is fined and rightly so. But why let Australian get a breather? After all it was Andrew Symonds who provoked him and accepted it although Michal Clarke said Andrew Symonds said nothing. Doesn’t it cast aspersions on Clarke’s credibility which was anyhow exposed in the same test match? And if Andrew Symonds provoked Harbhajan, he would definitely not have sung a birthday song for him, no way. If you have to provoke some one, you know the extent and severity of means. For that matter, Symonds has accepted to use F word which is again an abuse, at least for Indians.
But still, Symonds preferred to be a cry baby on the background of famous Australian saying “What ever happens on the field, remains on the field” which they have used over the years after their mental disintegration of opposition. But when something happens to them, they run off to ICC to hang the opposition.
I do not have any problem with ICC punishing Harbhajan Singh for abusive language, but do Australians have any legal right to use the same language? There is a popular saying in hindi “Taali dono hathon se hi bajti hai”. So why chop off one hand and let the other one go.
Even Justice John Hansen says in his verdict “It is apparent that the heated exchange arose because Mr Symonds took exception to the appellant patting the bowler Mr Lee on the backside. I have reviewed the television evidence of what occurred. It is clear that Mr Lee bowled an excellent yorker to Mr Singh who was fortunate to play the ball to fine leg. As he passed Mr Lee while completing a single Mr Singh patted Mr Lee on the backside. Anyone observing this incident would take it to be a clear acknowledgement of ‘well bowled’.” But Symonds pretended Harbhajan’s act as if he had deprived Lee of his genital rights. Whatever happened after wards is history. But later it was found that he him self was not sure if the word was used? Here are his own words as reported in Henson’s report
“MR MANOHAR: I put it to you that apart from the other Indian abuses he said to you the words “teri maki”?
MY SYMONDS: Possibly, I don’t recall, I don’t speak that language.
MR MANOHAR: Thank you.
HIS HONOUR: But you accept that as a possibility, My Symonds?
MR SYMONDS: As a possibility I accept that, yes.”
On Harbhajan’s patting back Lee, Symonds says
“MR MANOHAR: You had any objection to that patting on the back?
MR SYMONDS: Did I have an objection to it – my objection was that a test match is no place to be friendly with an opposition player, is my objection.”
And Hansen writes, “If that is his view I hope it is not one shared by all international cricketers. It would be a sad day for cricket if it is.”
Now, why Symonds should not be punished?
- For provoking Harbhajan singh and using abusive language which he has accepted.
- For charging someone with a serious offence which he was not sure of.
But ICC has continued its tradition of being biased against a certain set of countries. In my earlier post Racism, I had accused ICC of racism and this incident proves the same. If using a certain word is racism, then what do you say of what Mike Proctor did, what ICC is doing by using different yardsticks for different players with one being blindly accepted as saints and the other thrown in deep water to prove its not a devil.
For details on the hearing of justice Hansen, click here.
All said and done, Peter Roebuck is a good writer with great business acumen.