Posted by: nestaquin | October 24, 2008

Andrew Symonds: Martyrdom in a Corporate Redneck Wonderland

Australian society from the very first day of settlement has possessed, some would say encouraged, a strong anti-authoritarian streak and it is unsurprising that the national cricket sides have had their fare share of men that are indignant to the whims and wishes of their so-called masters.

The history of cricket is littered with Australian players expressing their distress at administrators often at tremendous personal cost, beginning with the first Test ever played in 1877 when Australia’s premier fast bowler, Fred Spofforth, refused to play in protest at what he believed was partisanship and corrupt practices within the selection committee.

Even cricketing saints like Victor Trumper, together with Warwick Armstrong, Clem Hill and several others, felt such disgust at the conceit of administrators that they refused to tour England to contest the ambitious Test match tri-series of 1912 which included three Tests against South Africa and a similar number to decide the Ashes.

The indifferent administrators of the time called the players bluff sending a second string team and Australia returned home empty handed after being dismissed for a paltry 65 at The Oval in the final Test.

The pattern continued unabated from decade to decade with famous names like Victor Richardson, Bill O’Reilly, Stan McCabe, Keith Miller, Ian Meckiff, Rod Marsh, Ian Chappell, Dennis Lillee, Greg Matthews, Dean Jones, Shane Warne and many others, all having disputes with cricketing administrators who chose to ignore their annoyances or apologies and instead recklessly decided to wield their undisputed power.

The latest victim of the administrators’ wrath, Andrew Symonds, banned from the Australian team for the spurious reason of not attending a meeting, has much in common with his recalcitrant cricketing forebears.

He is a straight shooter, often answering questions with a direct unadulterated honesty, he possesses remarkable cricketing talent and his deeds on the field have the opposition lamenting, even fearing, his participation.

Andrew’s former Queensland and national coach John Buchanan, a man nicknamed The Professor for his attention to detail and innovative technologies and reasoning, produces a DVD for each individual player at the end of every day’s play with a document and video for study in preparation for the next.

Buchanan soon noticed that Symonds’ laptop was missing and that his DVDs were left in the nearest bin and rather than force him to comply, he conceded that his analytical methods were not the best way to proceed with a player as unique and as headstrong as Andrew. Instead, Buchanan allowed him to have a beer and go camping and fishing for he knew that the dreadlocked athlete performed at his best when left to his own innocent devices.

Symonds famously overstepped the line in Cardiff in 2005 and was duly punished by his coach and it should be remembered that he hasn’t transgressed where alcohol is involved since.

Adopted as a baby, Andrew was raised in the redneck wonderland of Far North Queensland and he no doubt was exposed to racism at a young age. It is the measure of the man that he has kept it private never wanting to appear the victim but when he believed he was racially vilified by sections of the crowd in India and then on the field in Sydney he asked his fellow players and the administrators of the game for their assistance in ridding cricket of this ignorant and ugly blight.

He was promised much and yet little was delivered except a slur on his own character. Absurdity and injustice are well known to people with an abundance of melanin in Australia and for Symonds’ to be made the criminal when he was the perceived victim caused him to lose faith in the administrators and I expect some of his more sycophantic team mates.

It is rumoured that the selectors wanted the Queenslander chosen for India and later to replace Phil Jaques who returned to Sydney recently for treatment but James Sutherland, head coatholder at Cricket Australia, is refusing Symonds admission to the team until he completes a corporate re-education program. I suspect that the process is akin to a forced mental castration of a character like Symonds and if his form and demeanour for Queensland are any indication it is doing his cricket more harm than good.

A cricket team like any organisation needs diversity amongst its people to thrive. Different views and lifestyles are healthy for in difference, as long as there is respect, lies strength. Presently, the Australian team, with their corporate haircuts, designer luggage and waxed chins, chests and backs appear more like a team of accountants than a tough world beating cricket side.

Without individuality and a sense of larrikinism, something Andrew Symonds naturally exudes, the team is one dimensional in character. Although cricket is a difficult technical pursuit at the highest level often the best players are those that are charismatic, instinctive and mentally unencumbered.

Most successful teams have a talismanic player, a man who invariably produces something special when his team needs it most. Without Warne and Gilchrist, Andrew Symonds has filled this role in the field and with the bat admirably and successfully.

Despite the hurt, confusion and disappointment Symonds’ has endured, his Test batting average in the last 12 months is 77.70, a quarter century an innings more than Hussey, and on several occasions he has played vital innings in restoring Australia’s position in matches after the top order has failed.

There can be little doubt that the Australian team without the dynamic Symonds is a poorer outfit. He is regarded as the world’s best fieldsman, he scores runs when they are needed most and his variety in bowling styles offer the team options that they do not have without him.

Unfortunately, Andrew Symonds’ international career may have come to a premature end because of the neglect and arrogance of cricket administrators and the lack of leadership and understanding inherent in the current Australian management structure.

It’s not the first time that those that are trusted with protecting the players and the sport have failed in their duties and history proves that it certainly won’t be the last.

Tomorrow: An open invitation to our readers to email a contribution. Don’t be shy, many of you have fine cricketing minds and it is a shame to have all that considered opinion and knowledge cluttered within the comments.

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Responses

  1. I recently stumbled on this blog and boy am I glad I did. This is going on my favorites page. Take a bow ladies and gentlemen. Fine fine writing and insightful comments. Far cry from the “Indian curry makes aussies worry”, “Indian tigers have kangaroos for breakfast lunch and dinner” type comments.

    The Guardian has some quality blogs too. Recently when Sachin broke Lara’s record, the blog somehow became a discussion of Sachin Vs. Lara. I decided to chime in with a Phd dissertation length comment. Would’nt you know it could not post. Grrraaaugh. :)

    Interesting take on the Symonds affair. While I have no problems with anti-authoritarian, Symonds is beginning to come across as a rebel without a cause. Rebel for the sake of being a rebel, hence destructive to himself, and more improtantly, the team.

    I wish Ricky, Pup , and his pals in the team sat down with him, tried to understand him and talk him into chanelling his aggression and anger against the opposition rather than towards his own. Then as a team they can be anti-establishment and get the powers that are to lift this ridiculous ban. I know, easier said than done but hey worth a shot.

  2. Profound, Original, and a very Insightful dig Nesta. (And Hi! This is my first comment on your brilliant blog)

    Agree to your observations lest for one contrarian view.

    Being in the shoes of the administrators – how does having an indy like Symmo rub off on the other lesser mortals in the team?

    Cricket is a team sport and I for one believe Symonds with his perfectly head strong ways would breed divides, discontent and general anarchy in the team if you let him be on his own.

    He possesses exceptional skills, grit and ability to come on his own everytime its required – but he’s probably in a wrong game here – I would not blame the authorities you are trying to take on for the sole blame (though being an Indian I’ve no particular insight in your internal matters here) but I still have to say, he’s a borderline case of a lost champion if he doesnt mend his ways.

    Dhruv

  3. An interesting context to place Symonds, a man whose cricketing skills I admire.

    I’m possibly a bit less sympathetic than you Nesta, since we hold different views on sledging. Symonds has led the chorus for a while and, at times when he has needed friends (and he’ll need them in the future) they have melted away a bit. I understand that Symonds has been carrying the sledger-in-chief personality off the field too, but that may be journalists being fed stories by his enemies. The tales of him shouting at late-comers on the bus weren’t pleasant.

    I’m a bit less sympathetic about the missed meeting too. The boat was there for a reason – a raising of the stakes from throwing away the DVDs. He was bound to transgress sooner or later.

    But I hope he comes back as I suspect he needs cricket’s mateship – once that is wrenched away, fragile personalities can crumble.

    On a lighter note, it’s amusing that he is beginning to share a characteristic of many England players (had he chosen so, would have played 100 Tests and 250 ODIs for us by now) – the longer he is out of the team, the better player he becomes!

    PS – I look forward to reading longer contributions from 99.94 readers over the coming weeks.

  4. thrd_umpire & Dhruv,

    Thanks for taking the time to enlighten the folks at 99.94 with your considered opinions.

    Andrew Symonds may be a rebel and does give the impression that he doesn’t give a toss but I wonder if the punishment fits the crime.

    Perhaps his exile was a preemptive measure to stop him throttling one of his team mates, perhaps he was made an example of for other reasons but one thing is patently clear, when dropped there was little wrong with his cricket and that’s what the spectators pay to see.

    The soap opera off the field is a sideshow to the main event and without Symonds the team lacks a bit of mongrel.

    Also, if thrd_umpire would like to repeat the lengthy dissertation on Lara and Tendulkar and email it to 99.94 I can guarantee that it wil be given pride of place on the front page with a glossy photo and sparkling introduction to compliment it.

  5. I’m not sure about Symonds. He comes across as a bit of an oaf, but there’s no question that his cricket is superb. He is not just a big hitter, I’ve seen him play the role of a finisher as well as Michael Bevan.

    My personal opinion on this subject is that if the team management feel that overall he is more of a disruptive influence that a positive influence, then they have to make the call.

    It must have been the management who originally reported his indiscretion in missing the meeting. Therefore it must have been team management who had an input on the punishment. I also seem to remember vice captain Clarke at a press conference criticising Symonds’ behaviour. Therefore on balance I would say that if the team management and senior players do not approve of his behaviour then the sanction has to be correct.

    The issue of team morale also needs to be taken into consideration. Does the fact that Symonds already gets special treatment annoy other players (e.g. the DVD in bin example from the article). Therefore a line must be drawn somewhere. If his behaviour continued in that vein, then firstly it would annoy others and destroy morale, and secondly it might make younger players feel as if they can behave in the same way.

  6. I think what you see is not what he is with symonds.
    You have to consider that this is an adopted *coloured person* growing up in an intolerant corner of Australia. Maybe, I should say yet another intolerant centre in Australia.
    It is obvious that he would have faced taunts over his ‘different looks’ and background while growing up. It is seen in his *tortured soul* behaviour.
    Why does he prefer the lonely hobby of fishing, for instance? Is it because he cannot wait to get away from the intolerant society? Which is that intolerant society? Who are the intolerant people causing him grief? We would be naive to think that his grievance is merely ovr Harbhajan Singh.

    Did he not famously say that ” I can tolerate racial slurs from my friends but not from opponents like the insuffferable Bhajji” after the Sydney fiasco. He did. And that is where I feel, as an Indian, that he is more to be pitied than censured. In the sense that many jingoistic Indians would like to see him as villain after the Sydney fiassco. But I dont see it that way. I see him as a victim. We sit here in India. We dont have to face the jingoistic, racist Aussies everyday. He did and he is scarred for life because of that. Made worse by the fact that he has to make peace with that.
    For, what sort of life do you have when you are conditioned to *tolerate*, nee, feel proud about “friends” who *slur you racially*? That, to me, is the most revealing comment he made,

    As a privileged member of the Aussie society, who despite the racism, had such humongous talent that his rise could not be suppressed, he has to still *conform*. He cannot rebel completely, he knows that. He knows that the Aussie society has treated him specially. This is a complex situation for him. Deep down, the question to ask is this:
    Harbhajan Singh, even if he called him monkey surely was doing that as a sledging mechanism? But his own friends slurring him racially(since he claimed that he will tolerate that from friends, it is fairly sure that they do, even if the disguise it as humour)? Surely, that is a more deep-rooted prejudice?

    I am sure he is pondering all this. Who is my friend? Can a person who slurs me racially be my friend really? Maybe I tolerate him because my profession requires me to. So why dont I get away from it all.

  7. Raj, I think you make some decent points but on the whole, it seems that you are painting Australians as a whole with a racist brush (even if you aren’t, your post comse across that way). Don’t forget that he faced some pretty vile garbage from the crowds in India as well – I find Indians on an average to be more racist than any other nationality I’ve met, and I attribute this to the racially homogeneous population.

    Sorry, that was a bit of a segue but I couldn’t help myself, especially after the “pitied than censured” line. Andrew Symonds is the finest athlete ever seen on a cricket field, and he’s pretty darn skilled as well. I think you pity him at your peril, and I dearly hope he is back soon (unfortunately, we won’t get to see him this series), as he is hands down, one of the most exciting cricketers to watch. I know you meant well with the pity, I just think “understood” would have been a better choice of word than “pitied”

  8. Toots

    I know there is humour involved when you state that Andrew Symonds is somehow over rated but it would be difficult to imagine a higher podium for him to stand.

    He is a two time World Cup winner. In fact he has never lost a a match at a World Cup.

    He has won every Test series he has been involved in and only once played in a losing Test match.

    He is also the highest paid foreign player in the IPL and only second to India’s favourite MS Dhoni overall.

    I’m not sure we can pump him up any higher, in all forms of the game his deeds speak far louder than our imaginations.

  9. Nesta – It’s useful to be reminded of Symonds’ record.

    My remark did have a little humour, but there’s a bit of truth too. Whilst anyone would see Symonds as the one of the key players (or THE key player) in the limited overs side, in the Test side, he has only recently established himself.

    In Test cricket, as a bowler, he is handy, no more, and is a fine batsman, but would never get into the middle order ahead of Punter, Hussey or Clarke (until perhaps now). And that’s my point – in Test cricket, he is not a key bowler and fourth choice for four batting slots.

    Were we talking about the return of Gilchrist, Warne, McGrath, Langer, Clark, even MacGill, the point wouldn’t hold. All were number one or two choices for their slots.

    There’s no doubt that he would strengthen the side merely by bowling 10 overs per day, making 30-odd and fielding (especially). Aus should do all it can to get him back and firing physically and mentally.

  10. Hi Nesta… this is a wonderfully written article… so beautifully put across, so well thought out and so refreshing to read.

    The comments are also very interesting. Though my point of view in some aspects of the article are on the other side of the divide, where many do not understand the cultural insensitivity factors and what in my personal experience as an Indian who has traveled quite a bit around the world had to cope with.

    Today you gave me a reason to cheer so much about the Internet and how it is such a nice place to exchange different points of view. I wish I had 1/3rd of your talent in being able to write this well.

    Cheers

  11. There is no doubt that Andrew Symonds is as much a once-in-a-generation player as some other recent Aussie greats are.

    However, if the team management and administrators feel that he is not setting a good example to others in the team, and that he is not demonstrating 100% commitment, it is their prerogative to punish him.

    The question is: Is the punishment fair for the supposed ‘crime’?

    Even Roy’s worst distractors (outside the Aussie establishment) would agree that it is grave injustice to deny a man arguably at the peak of his powers, a chance to make an impact in one of the marquee series of our time.

    I hope I am wrong. But I feel at least a few Australian cricketers would have grudged Roy getting the top billing in the IPL auction?

    After reading Ponting’s ‘disappointed’ statements about the price he fetched, and David Hussey gloating about how he got almost double compared to his more illustrious brother, I wondered whether Roy’s price tag would have made some people bitch behind his back.

    The Sydney incident – I agree with Matt Hayden that Bhajji is an obnoxious weed.He is the kind who imagines insults where none were intended.Bhajji and Sreesanth are cricketers who love to think of themselves as ‘new age’ Indian cricketers who can give it back to the Aussies and others.

    Much as I admire their talent and contributions, it does not make them my favorite cricketers. And much as I admire the talent of Roy, and empathise with his ‘growing up years’, I feel he should have set an example by playing hard and fair, but not being sledger-in-chief.

    Hayden (who is actually very soft spoken in private I believe) should have mentored Roy because I don’t think Rick(y) has it in him to mentor any one. And I really don’t know about Clarke.Did he feel Roy, if allowed to misbehave, could try to undermine his authority in future, similar to how Warne did for Tugga and Punter at times?

    _________

    RK@6.44 PM:It is true that crowds at a Cricket match in India could comprise of elements without any sensitivity and lacking the true love of sport to genuinely respect a cricketer.They do it because they read in the media that ‘xyz comment’ will rile a particular cricketer, and they do it to have ‘their type of fun’.

    They did not do it because they knew Roy’s ethnicity and look down upon it. The media gave them a target, printed photos from earlier matches to show what ‘fans’ at other Indian venues did, and the crowd wants to go one up on that.

    I have seen very respectable Indian cricketers being abused as well. And we all know even Dhoni’s effigies were burnt and house attacked after the World cup loss.A country of 1.3 billion will have its statistical share of morons.

  12. This is funny. A tribute to Symonds. I must search some of the indian blogs for an equally glowing tribute to Bhajji somewhere, with some appreciative references to Sreeshanth thrown in between.

  13. Am now throwing my hat into this discussion.

    There is a huge obsession in charging on the ‘politically correct’ anti-racism jingoism this incident has highlighted.

    Amidst all that, everyone conveniently forgets that this incident would never have happened if someone first of all had not behaved very badly.

    And that someone was Andrew Symonds and he becomes a hero… the fall guy who was racially abused.

    Are we missing something here?

  14. Something that is often missing when people get emotional over cricket is that the players are human.

    They make mistakes, some incidental, some bizarre and some have unknown consequences far outreaching the actual transgression.

    They are as fallible as the rest of humanity and yet we choose to judge them more harshly just because they have extraordinary hand-eye coordination and were fortunate to be given a chance to harness their talent and express it.

    Under pressure every man can fall into error and a little forgiveness can go along way to allowing the perpetrator the opportunity to mend what is broken.

    In the case of Symonds and Harbhajan I think it is pertinent to remember the wisdom of 19th Century essayist and perpetual rogue, Charles Caleb Colton, who wrote,

    “We hate some persons because we do not know them; and we will not know them because we hate them.”

  15. That’s a superb quote Nesta… and how true!

  16. Kumar – fair comment, it is always the few morons who ruin it for everyone. And my diatribe against Indians, painting them (us, actually) as racist is really angst coming through. I am Indian myself and it infuriates me that there is such a lot of casual racism which abounds in India without the perpetrator even realising it. When I was going to the US for a trip, my parents helpfully warned me against those “dangerous blacks”. When actress Rimii Sen praises her make-up artist by saying “he can make even a black African look beautiful”, it is just symptomatic of a culture that reveres white skin above personality. No wonder Fair & Lovely is such a draw.

    I’m really sorry folks, I have gone completely off-topic, but hey, if you can’t vent on the web…

  17. nestaquin, your last comment put things in perspective.

    I would like to give the benefit of doubt to both Symonds and Bhajji. I am not saying all australians are racist. I am saying that they have a problem there with understanding other cultures. Even Gilly talks about “cultural problems” about shaking hands etc. I mean, you are saying the whole culture of the Indians is unsatisfactory there. How arrogant! Yet, we’ll call someone like Symonds arrogant, even though he is only consistently speaking his mind – we wil call Gilly a gentleman. This is a problem in evaluation.

    # The problem is with the ICC choosing to punish *only* Harbhajan for the incident. That was a farce.

    #In the end, Aussies get away with bad behaviour consistently. Their media then drums up statistics on how they are the best behaved team if they go by ICC punishment statistics. I can see supporters around me getting agitated over this. One can only imagine how that affects players like Bhajji who see their indiscretions punished but opponents’ indiscretion lauded. Shane Warne’s shenaignans and his disdainful treatment of umpires, ironically, brought him admiration from those same umpires. If Harbhajan or Sreesanth indulged in half the antics Shane did in his time, they would be banned for life.

    # Ricky Ponting is a hypocrite! He would talk about gentleman agreement on fielders’ word and then not take it when his team is 10/3. He has consistently exhibited hypocritical, jingoistic, smug behaviour(“Dont question my integrity” – are you,like, Nelson Mandela?)

    #Ricky Ponting has never copped decent punishment in his whole career despite his whining and poor behaviour through the years.

    # All this adds up to frustration on the sub-continent side. And when it is the Indians, with the power they have now, they just brutally brush this aside, which makes the Aussie media go holier-than-thou, which they can ill-afford to.

    # I believe that Symonds has been trying to drum up to himself that “he has been given a chance, so he must stand for his mates etc”. Part of the problem is his seeming belief that “you are not supposed to be mates with your opponents”. Who made that rule,eh. Roy?

    I guess thats where, reading between the lines, he was trying to be over-zealous about proving his “Aussie” credentials – that he was one of the Oz boys, not an immigrant with roots elsewhere. Michael Jeh talks about growing up in Australia. Surely, Symonds would have faced the same discrimination and taunts when he grew up?

    I think at this point he is confused about where he belongs. If he is completely happy with his adopted homeland, I dont think he will have the problems he has now.

    Also, lets remember that Ricky Ponting was made captain after a whole lot of indiscretions. Why, then, is Symonds alone being victimised? When Mark Waugh and Shane Warne accepted money from bookies, CA hushed it up. What shameful behaviour! Is ANY of Roy’s crimes worse than that nefarious deal?

  18. Vent all you please, RK, as long as it is respectful (which you have been).

    This is off-topic too and something that I have found curious while watching TV advertisements between overs in the cricket when in India.

    There is a product by Nivea, I think, that promotes beauty by making your skin paler.

    I found it ironic that the Europeans buy skin products to become darker while Indians do the same but to become paler. (Is that Fair and Lovely, RK?)

    Is it because deep down we all wish to be a lovely homogenous light brown?

  19. Nesta, yes F&L is the one. They have a pretty surreal ad, where a dark skinned girl (actually, a pale skinned girl who has had dark brown pigment smeared all over her) is despondent because no one answers her matrimonial ad. Fair & Lovely to the rescue and, lo and behold, she’s become a fair maiden (yea, must’ve been really difficult to scrape the brown paint off) and waltzes away into the sunset with the man of her dreams. It’d be hilarious if it weren’t so reprehensible.

    Deep down inside, we all do want to be light brown. In a 100 years, we’ll all look like Adriana Lima or Nicole whatshername from Pussycat Dolls . Actually if the women look like them in a 100 years, where can I sign up for the cryogenic freezing procedure?

  20. Raj, you’re right about a lot of things. My own take on the events on Sydney is:

    # Bucknor was at fault for a lot of decisions, but that happens – I mean, we totally lucked out at Lord’s last year. But yea, umpiring errors are less palatable. BUT still, no top class team should subside like that on a decent pitch, so the Indians definitely deserve a lot of the blame

    #The threats to abandon the tour were distasteful, period.

    # I think the Australian press (I’d appreciate Nesta’s feedback here) is like any other press, with its own moronic elements (I’m looking at you, Malcolm Conn) – and some whipped things up in a jingoistic frenzy and refused to see what the Australians did wrong. Ricky Ponting’s “catch”, Michael Clarke’s refusal to walk, and the unsightly celebrations at the end (hey, India goes over the top in celebrations too, but the Aussies usually seem to look amused and turn their nose up at this) were conveniently forgotten by much of the press, except for a few souls like Roebuck.

    #I don’t really have any comment on the race row , can’t be sure who said what without impugning someone’s integrity, which I’m not willing to do.

    About Mohali, I read a poster on the Guardian commenting that both Sydney and Mohali had the losing team have bad decisions go against them, but the Aussies haven’t threatened to call off this tour, ergo, they’re noble and superior.

    It vexes me that anyone would think Australia lost at Mohali due to umpiring errors, it really does. And nesta’s admirably unpartisan (and superbly written) match reports do tell the truth.

  21. “They are as fallible as the rest of humanity and yet we choose to judge them more harshly just because they have extraordinary hand-eye coordination and were fortunate to be given a chance to harness their talent and express it.”

    Nesta, true in essence BUT I think, we the public, subconsciously start thinking of them as role models not just athletes. This may be why we get emotional when they act like boofheads. This may also explain why they are held to higher standards and as a consequence judged more harshly when they fail.

    Case in point, Tom Brady, Quarterback of the New England Patriots (American football). He was an unknown backup QB in 2001. He got a chance to play only because the regular quarterback was injured, grabbed it with both hands and the team went on to win the superbowl. 2 more championships followed in 3 years and young Tom was the toast of the town, poster boy of the NFL. Then Tom started dating movie stars. He had a child with one of them, did not marry her and is now dating a supermodel. In the meantime after a run of 19 straight victories Tom and team lost the all important final, the superbowl. Fast forward to the next season (the present) – Tom got injured and is now out for the rest of the season. Needless to say people do not like him anymore. I think the emotion is more disappointment and disillusion. One of my co-workers said, and I quote, except for the unprintables “What was he thinking, why did he not marry her, my 8 year old looks up to him and this is what he does that @#$%”

    And thanks Nesta for the invite to email. I shall rewrite

  22. RK,

    My opinion of the Australian press in general is that it is poor and becoming worse from month to month due to financial pressure exerted from the World Wide Web.

    Every major metropolitan newspaper in the country is bleeding money and unfortunately due to many staff being made redundant and the fickleness and absurdity of the human condition all of them are now basically tabloids that peddle celebrity, advertorials and sensationalism as content.

    Regarding cricketing journalism there is a sycophancy inherent within the ranks because if you write something that isn’t force fed through the media manager you may lose access to the information and hence be out of a job. Therefore, most of it is recycled press releases much like Cricinfo is now that it is owned by the Disney Corporation.

    No-one in the Australian cricket team talks to Roebuck for this very reason but he has fashioned a niche for himself by the force of his writing talent, wit and knowledge.

    A word on the Sydney Test which I attended on the final day.

    Australia was so thrilled and excited to take three wickets in the penultimate over that it took them a while to come back to Earth and acknowledge the opposition. It was regrettable but not deliberate.

    It was a miracle win and I think if everyone would just take a deep breath and put themselves under a BaggyGreen for a moment they would realise that no disrespect was meant, the excitement of winning the Test just overpowered common sense and perhaps, decency.

    India’s reaction to it all was just as understandable for the disappointment of that little collapse, especially with the skipper at the other end watching his team mates fall and with the match all but saved, must have been literally gut wrenching.

    I think most of the players have moved on and I think the supporters of both nations should follow their lead.

  23. thrd_umpire,

    The issue of role models is an interesting one.

    I recognise that many people may want to see their sporting heroes as people to emulate but in the case of children like the boy in your analogy, the truth is his parents, teachers and immediate family are his role models.

    That doesn’t mean a kid or an adult cannot or should not idolise a sportsman or woman for lessons can be learned when their chosen heroes fail or succeed. It’s a two way street.

    For example, if your football player doesn’t marry his girl, the parent could explain to him why some think this is not a good idea and why some think it doesn’t matter and why others think it’s none of their business then listen to his kid’s questions and answer them honestly.

    I doubt an eight year old kid would care less if his favourite football player was married or had a harem of Las Vegas Showgirls unless he has been indoctrinated, carelessly or deliberately, to think otherwise by the adults that control the information he consumes.

    In summary, if people choose to have role models and they have found that the choice was a bad one, there’s only one person to blame. Themselves.

  24. * I agree that Aussies celebrating without acknowledging Indians is no big deal – and the players know it. It is stupid Indian press that made a big deal of it

    * Ponting, Clarke, Symonds et al behaved very badly but Mike Procter chose to turn a blind eye. Not for the first time, not for the last. Chris Broad did it again in the Mohali test. Zaheer blows his top. So does Brad Haddin. That is supposed to be an incident in the field to be buried. Zaheer blows his top against Hayden and Hayden complains. Boooo!

    Chris Broad is waiting to punish any Indian, Paki or Lankan so he pounces on the opportunity. The problem with Indians is they cannot complain at the right moment, and complain in a way that will be taken seriously. If they do, Australia’s test squad will wither away in bans and fines. If this had been done in the last 10 years, we need not have waited for Glenn, Shane etc to retire. If we played the cards rightly, we could have got them a serial ban for their behaviour. No Aussie supporter who fails to acknowledge this is not being objective.

  25. Well, we cannot move on because there has to be a resolution where we see Aussie players copping fines and bans for their behaviour. Nobody can deny that their behaviour is poor. Until we see, I , as an Indian cannot move on. On top of it, aussie and english media cry BCCI domination Truth is true domination would be when the likes of Chris Broad are weeded out as referees. Chris Broad has problems only with Indian subcotninent players. How can he be so racist openly and not be punished for it?

  26. I mean, the usual response is What price Bhajji etc. Fine, but they get punished dont they? Why dont Aussie players get punished for bad behaviour? You cant reasonably claim that they are well behaved

  27. raj,

    In the current series I’d say that both teams have been very well behaved.

    Zaheer shouldn’t have given Hayden a send off and I’m reasonably sure that his captain would have been disappointed in him. Those sorts of antics are no longer tolerated and if an Australian, Englishman or Eskimo does the same I would expect him to be punished also.

    As for Chris Broad, they are serious accusations you make and I am not in a position to comment but I can say this, having one man as judge and jury is a system fraught with danger and in the wrong hands could lead to injustice.

  28. Fair enough nesta, one always has a spot for instant-head-in-the-cloud-reactions, absolutely. In fact, my point is not at all to berate Australia for the celebrations. The point is to divert attention towards Oz’s (actually, Gilly and Roy’s I think, not tooo sure) reactions towards Indian celebrations when we won the T20 WC. Just seems that if one were accused of celebrating too loudly, one would prefer it if the accuser didn’t live in a glass house.

  29. also, the aussie team which pushed Sharad Pawar off the stage. How vulgar was that?
    (Ricky Ponting was at the centre of it all, wasnt he?)

  30. As a sidebar, I love the fact that we can have a really civilised flame less discussion here. Guardian and cricinfo are full of trolls intent upon, well, trolling.

    Next topic, what is your world test XI? Mine is

    V. Sehwag
    G. Gambhir
    R. Ponting
    S.Tendulkar
    M.Hussey
    K.Pietersen
    M.Dhoni
    B. Lee
    Z. Khan
    I. Sharma
    A. Mendis (or M. Muralitharan)

    I know it seems India-heavy, but I honesstly believe these are the best equipped players today to facea Mars, apologies to Messrs. Sangakkara and Jayawardene

  31. raj, imagine a world without all these spats, and without a rivalry worthy of the name. Cricket finally has its Federer v Nadal situation. Let’s fan the flames, shall we? What should we start with, taunting Ponting about Ishant (“Ishant and Ricky, sitting in a tree, K-I-L-L-I-N-G”)? How about Matty Hayden (no songs, his name is terrifying enough- mothers in the chambal valley routinely put their kids to sleep by threatening that hayden will materialise if they dont go to sleep)?

  32. This is a really fascinating and intelligent thread and I totally agree with whoever compared the GU threads in an unflattering way. I don’t tend to even try and comment now because any comment will get trolled.

    Re Symonds – I’m not keen on him as a person, but he is such a good player that it is a shame if it truly is disputes with CA that are keeping him out of the side.

    I was reminded as I read the article and comments of the furore that is going on here about Joey Barton. And also, coincidentally just read John Pilger’s latest article about racism in Australia.

    We, in the UK don’t have much to be proud of, and the hideous sectarianism in Scotland is vile, but the Aussies are as bad and seem to have taken all our nastiness, and made a system of it.

  33. I think it is quite unfair and completely incorrect to state that there is systemic racism within Australian society.

    There are families and social groups who in their ignorance divide humanity into categories according to their skin colour, religion and other differences but there isn’t a system that discriminates on physical appearance.

    While your comment is appreciated mimi, please be careful with generalisations and if you are making outrageous claims please provide evidence to support them.

    John Pilger has made a career out of writing fiendishly about Australian culture and is infamous for only presenting the research that supports his ideology and conveniently ignoring any evidence that doesn’t support his extreme and somewhat distorted view.

    He is a highly skilled, mischievous storyteller who understands his niche market brilliantly and despite his reputation within the UK, the fact is that he is hardly an impartial observer but a man shunned by his compatriots with a lonely axe to grind.

  34. nesta, just to be objective, I need to tell you I have a sister in oz and she is depressed very many times with the discriminations she faces.
    This doesnt mean it is systemic in Oz. But the anecdotal evidence points to a rather intolerant society. To be fair, one could say the same of any society that one or the other community will be discriminated against but if we are talking about “racism”, Oz definitely would be near the top of the ranking, surely?

  35. mimi, on the contrary, I think UK, specifically, England can be proud about its efforts to integrate the immigrants. There are still nut cases but I think by and large, atleast Southern England is much more tolerant

  36. RK, ah! I’d pencil in Sanga and Mahela ahead of Dhoni and Ponting respectively. I mean, Sanga is way ahead as a batsman, 192 against Oz in oz. MS was hiding behind Kumble’s coat-tails(oversized or not) and never came out of his shell. He couldnt even score a decent 20.
    As for wicket-keeping, Sanga is not Healy but Dhoni? He is yet to prove himself as a decent keeper – the one chance he had to prove by going to Sri Lanka and keeping to Bhajji and Kumble, he chikcened out of. How can you even consider such a lightweight over a proven player like Sanga?
    Sanga is not keeping much but he can do it for that one important match against Mars no? Sanga at 50% would be abetter keeper than Mega Star Dhoni.

  37. A fit Chris Gayle surely is more value than Gambhir? Even Cook and DeVilliers could stake a claim?

  38. Raj,

    I’m not sure if the UN has a racism ranking and I think that even if it did crimes like ethnic cleansing and restriction from Government services based on ethnicity might be some criteria when judging.

    Despite its reputation, mainly due to the cretinous J.Howard and his cronies, Australia is in the main a successful, peaceful multicultural nation filled with people from every continent.

    It”s a work in progress and although not perfect, it is a safe and prosperous place to live.

    I do not know specifically of your sister’s troubles but I am certain there are communities within the continent that would accept her without concern of her country of origin.

    There will always be random incidents of ignorance and fear because that is part of the fabric of humanity and it is only through education that we can help the irrational learn that race is an invention and that in diversity lies strength and wealth.

  39. Yea I thought long and hard about the keeping position, but I counted Sanga out as he hasn’t kept for over a year in tests. You can go either way.

    Not too sure about Chris Gayle in tests, he’s been inconsistent and has injury problems. At this point, I realise that I’ve made one grave omission which needs to be rectified – Chanderpaul needs to be in, but I’ve no idea who to bump off. Either Gambhir or Tendulkar, with Mike Hussey opening if Gambhir goes off..

  40. There’s a lot in what you say Nesta. I guess I am not very objective on this due to my sister’s experiences.
    :it is only through education that we can help the irrational learn that race is an invention and that in diversity lies strength and wealth.
    :
    But one part of my minds says cynically that that will never happen. If it looked like happening, vested interests will jump into action.

  41. I’m not sure what you think my outrageous claims are, Nesta. I mentioned that I had read John Pilger’s recent article and you have a very strong view about him, which is entirely your prerogative.

    You seem to have misunderstood my reference to the recent very unpleasant situation between Rangers and Celtic fans here, or maybe it is simply not something understood in Tasmania.

    Here, we, everyone of sound thinking, find it desperate that in this day and age, two football teams, or their so-called fans, choose to incite hatred over matters that took place hundreds of years ago. To have a situation where a player has F*** the Pope carved on his car, or Die you Papist f***** on his car, is not part of a civilised society.

    My point, obviously poorly made, was that Australia has its failings too.

  42. Mimi

    There was no misunderstanding on my part.

    It is outrageous and patently false to write, “the hideous sectarianism in Scotland is vile, but the Aussies are as bad and seem to have taken all our nastiness, and made a system of it.

    While your comment is appreciated please be aware that 99.94 is, according to the statistics provided by the generous people at WordPress, read by people on every continent including Antarctica, and what binds us all is an interest in cricket.

    References to things outside the boundaries of our common interest should have a brief explanation or a hyperlink to relevant information provided. Otherwise you will most certainly be misunderstood.

    This is an international blog and it is important to not assume that other readers have any notion of local events in your corner of the planet.

    Finally, another reminder about generalisations. You finish your last post with, “Australia has its failings too.

    While that might be true please be specific and provide examples, anecdote, comparison or evidence to support your claims.

    It will aid in comprehension and promote intelligent respectful discussion by allowing others to agree or refute your assertion.

  43. I have been crystallysing an article on how the “BCCI is dominating ICC” is a myth in the context of how Asian cricketers cop more punishment compared to Aussies and English men and how strategically placed staff as referees, committee chairmans helped the Eng/Aus boards to dominate the thinking at the ICC still.
    BCCI is a bunch of piss-pots alright but the way the western press have ben shedding crocodile tears about Cricket and the spirit in which it was run by the erstwhile admins compared to the neo-lords who are corrupt, partial and reverse-racist.

    I hope I can submit it to you though knowing myself it will remain a dream to coherently put together one.

  44. Why, for instance, do we dress up Shane’s shenanigans in intimidating umpires as “he used to sledge Koertzen because surely we all know how incompetent Rudi is so what a smart thing Shane did”. Yet we all know that the same person who says this will go over the top about top-knot etc behaving badly if Harbhajan does half of that. I wonder why these people cannot smell their shitty hypocrisy?
    (I cannot stand Bhajji either but at least I am being consistent)

  45. I apologise unreservedly for bringing another sport’s issues to this thread. An assumption that everyone knows about the Celtic/Rangers debate was a crossing of boundaries.

    Cricket does not have those problems.

    It has a host of its own to deal with.
    And doesn’t need the Pope to add to that.


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