What a test! And not just for the cricketers – the ICC and BCCI are in it up to their necks. The second test between India and Australia ended in bitterness and confusion as allegations of racial abuse were exchanged – first by Andrew Symonds alleging that Harbajan Singh called him a monkey, and later by Anil Kumble and Mahendra Singh Dhoni against Brad Hogg – exactly what the ‘offensive remark’ was I’m not sure.

The first thing that struck both Java and me was how calling someone a monkey could possibly be considered ‘racial’ abuse. For surely monkeys are not generally associated with any particular ethnicity? The second thing was how Mike Proctor could possibly slap a ban on Harbajan Singh for three test matches when no one else heard any abuse. The umpires heard nothing and none of the other players have admitted hearing anything even remotely close to what Symonds alleged. And as this boils down to one man’s word against another’s, how could Proctor make any decision at all? On what grounds? Crazy? Crazy!

The incident then started snowballing into what threatened to be a political incident with India taking umbrage against the decision to ban Singh and also demanding that Steve Buckner be withdrawn from officiating in the third test match due to his horrendous umpiring in the second test. The ICC quickly backed down and re-instated Singh for the next match pending a further inquiry and also withdrew Buckner, whose days are, if not over, certainly numbered. So the next match will go on as scheduled at Perth and the proceedings will make for excellent viewing, what with the simmering righteous indignation on both sides adding no end to the drama of the game itself.

But back to the ‘sledging’ – Australia has pretty much been at the forefront of this sort of gamesmanship – what Steve Waugh famously referred to ‘mental disintegration’. Over the years complaints from individual players have been made, followed by investigations and results and we have all seen some of the cry-babies – old Harbajan not least among them. We think sledging is cool – it adds to the fireworks on occasion and is often pretty rich in humor. There was the incident reported about when Glen McGrath asked Eddo Brandes, pace bowler for Zimbabwe, how come he was so fat. Brandes, apparently without batting the proverbial eye, retorted instantly that it was because every time he fucked her, he would get a biscuit from McGrath’s wife! McGrath was also involved with a West Indian (it may have been Sarwan) who mentioned his wife at a very bad time (she was being treated for cancer) and McGrath threatened to ‘rip his throat out’. There’s more – Kumar Sangakkara let Pollock have it for all to hear and see, and Russell Arnold was never shy to take the sledging back to where it came from. The point is that ‘what’s good for the goose is good for the gander’, but since ethnicity and religion are pretty sensitive topics among most, sledging should not include abuse in these areas.

The question of why Australia behaved like a cry-baby is a bit difficult to comprehend. The big macho champion of sledging, complaining about being called a monkey???!!! What a bunch of ninnies! Much as I admire the brand of cricket they play and their brilliance with bat, ball and strategies, I must say I am disappointed.

Mike Procter? The less said about him – and Steve Buckner – the better! And the ICC? Time for them to take a long, hard look at a whole lot of aspects regarding the game – not least of them, the umpiring!

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