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This is so not cricket...

I don't quite know if it is right for me to indulge in writing such posts, but controversy has been the theme of the week and I don't quite mind indulging into one myself.

It was almost that all those media throries came knocking on my doors again. Call it lack of objectivity or sensationalism or even for that matter selective reporting, the reportage of the Sydney Test highlights each of these factors. There were plenty of things that were forgotten - especially India's bad batting. Barring two players in the media, there was hardly any highlight of what was a rather abject Indian surrender. It was almost that Steve Bucknor became the most hated personality in India after Narendra Modi, Mark Benson playing Jinnah and Harbhajan Singh was worshipped as if he was the apostle of all truth in Gandhi. This bullcrap is going on since a week and everytime I switch on the TV sets or read the newspapers, all I see is some erratic statements coming from India's new Shakespeare - Sharad Pawar or his comrades.

Why can't Indians also be racists ? If you ask me, we are racists of the highest order. How does one justify calling our fellow Indians from the North East as "chinkis - to suggest their mongoloid features or triple (a popular term in Mumbai derived from Triple Schezwan)" or for that matter, even using offensive terms against the minorities ? We still do live in the class mentality, where an upper-class Brahmin beats a Dalit almost to death when he tries entering a Temple ? Our famous perverts rape foreign tourists with an assumption that we are a superior race to the famously referred Goras. These sort of issues baffle me, not what Harbhajan said or did not say on the cricketing pitch. There is an acute sense of hypocrisy that prevails through the Indian mind when it comes to racism. Perhaps, they don't yet know what it means. What is even more surprising is the clean chit we give ourselves as not being a "racist state". I mean, there is this entire feeling of "Oh, how can we Indians ?" when it comes to being called racist.

The scope of analysis in the Indian media has stooped to a bad low that one of the news channels actually had the guts to balance Nayan Mongia with a man of such high repute as Shashi Tharoor, cracking the year's first big joke. There is a big wave of self-pride that has crept in and everyone has forgotten that the Indian batsmen failed to play 70 overs to save their backsides. That was the bottomline. Had they drawn the game confidently, would the media be crying foul ? Doubt so. And to the best of my modest cricketing knowledge, they had no business to surrender as haplessly as they did with just two overs to go. People argue about why did they slump to 210/7 (umpire's fault) and I answer, with three wickets in hand and not being able to bat out 2 overs is a crime. And then we have primetime shows on mainstream english channels with questions like "Should India withdraw the tour ?", "Are Australia playing fair cricket ?". And then a barrage of highly opinionated Indians wasting their time and money on sending SMSes to these television channels. What began as a stupendously serious effort on the part of the media to create public opinion on the issue, took an ugly trivial turn. Why ? Chomsky's first filter. The enormous or awesome power of the media to influence the public on an emotive issue is most certainly a good way to earn a healthy revenue. So what looked like a serious issue was dumbed down horribly to suit the media's needs. Audaciously enough, one of India's oldest newspapers carried their SMS poll results to justify the BCCI's actions, claiming "We told you so. Thank you readers." What sort of bullhockey was that ?

And then the other question that has crept up gradually - who runs cricket - the BCCI or the ICC ? Its a fairly complex issue to be honest. Indian cricket has grown beyond its sporting self to become a commodity, something like the Premier League in Football. So, its fantastic to come up with terms like "Hell yeah ! Money Talks man". Sharad Pawar, also the Union Agricultural Minister, talks about pulling out of the Tri-Nations in Australia if Harbhajan Singh is not exonerated of the racism charges against him. Thats like holding someone in ransom. I mean, who knows what exactly happened. Cricket must go on, and irrespective of whatever happened, the game is a mammoth compared to one individual. And none, I repeat none of the Indian media have even thought about citing a similar instance that happened in the West Indies, where Dwayne Bravo accused Graeme Smith of racially abusing him in 2005. Both of them were let off after inconclusive television evidence. Instead of constructively pursuing what could be an important precedent in the Bhajji affair, all they did was to go after personalities a la Bucknor, Benson, Procter and Ponting.

Is bastard a racist word ? Whoever asked the Indian manager to look up the dictionary and pronounce it to the media. That was something uncalled for. The unsporting crowds at the Wankhede Stadium often resort to using the term in an outrightly derogatory manner, but is there any action taken against them ? And why are we justifying what Harbhajan said or did not say, the term "monkey" - and for all you, who don't know about racist chants - MONKEY is a racist term irrespective of the usage and the sport. Or, as conspiracy theories are flying all over, I am tempted to defend Harbhajan by saying that "Ponting cant score a run of him to be honest" and thats something the Aussies have often used against people they don't quite dominate. On the other hand, it would be easier to say that the Aussies target players with acute temper problems, and Harbhajan falls under that category for sure.

This cannot be the cricket I knew, watched and wrote about. What we need to remember is that there is a Test match to be played at Perth and we need to come out of the psychological shell of persecution and denial and play some hard cricket. Everyone knows whatever happened at Sydney, but it is only fair to suggest that India go out and vent their anger, frustration in the middle and not at ICC meetings in Dubai. And the turn of events over the last week has unfortunately and unfairly increased the already existing burden of winning a match on this tour. It's only a matter of time that the breeze blows the other way and if India fail to put up stronger performances, the same who stood up will desert them.

This post first appeared on The Cricket Journal, please read the originial post: here

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This is so not cricket...


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