Cricket’s day of shame
The Indian cricket board (BCCI) and the International Cricket Council
(ICC) have come under attack from sections of the Australian media after
India spinner Harbhajan Singh was cleared of racially abusing Andrew
Australian newspapers accused the BCCI of using their financial
muscle to hold the world game to ransom while criticising the ICC for
bowing to their demands.
The Sydney Morning Herald’s headline read “Cricket’s day of shame”
while The Australian proclaimed “Cricket caves in to India’s demands.”
The Sun-Herald’s main headline was “India gets its way, Harbhajan charge
downgraded, ban overturned.”
Harbhajan had originally been suspended for three matches after being
found guilty of calling Symonds, Australia’s only black player, a
“monkey” during this month’s bad-tempered second test in Sydney.
The Indian cricket board had threatened to cancel the tour unless the
ICC dropped the charges but the crisis was averted on Tuesday when
Harbhajan won an appeal against the original ruling.
Harbhajan was cleared when the appeal judge agreed to downgrade the
charge to the lesser offence of abusing an opponent.
He pleaded guilty and was fined half his match fee but the
three-match ban was lifted.
The broadsheet Sydney Morning Herald reported that the Indian cricket
board had chartered a plane to take their players home if the verdict
went against Harbhajan while Cricket Australia persuaded their own
players to drop the charges and agree to a lesser offence.
The paper said Australia’s players were privately seething about the
turn of events but were left with no option because Cricket Australia
feared the prospect of a multimillion dollar lawsuit if the tour was
“World cricket authorities have caved in to the game’s financial
superpower, India, and Cricket Australia has incurred the wrath of its
own test players by pressuring them to drop a racial slur charge against
Harbhajan Singh,” the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
“The Board of Control for Cricket in India had even chartered a plane
to take its players home tomorrow if the Indian player’s three-test
suspension — for calling Australia’s Andrew Symonds a monkey during the
Sydney test — had not been overturned at yesterday’s appeal in the
Federal Court in Adelaide.”
Former Somerset captain Peter Roebuck, writing in the same newspaper,
said the Indian cricket board should be condemned for their abuse of
“If this is the way the Indian board intends to conduct its affairs
hereafter, then God help cricket,” Roebuck wrote. “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?” Peter Lalor,
writing in the national broadsheet The Australian, said the decision was
further proof of India’s ability to wield their financial power to win
events off the field.
“India, the team that bleated about the spirit of cricket after being
beaten in Sydney, has again held a gun to the game’s head and had its
demands met,” Lalor wrote.