The BCCI has once again outperformed its cricket team. By flexing its financial muscle, it has enabled Harbhajan Singh to get away. Whether or not Harbhajan used a racial slur, his on-field conduct has been far from exemplary. He first denied having said anything and later admitted to using abusive language against Andrew Symonds — an action that questions his integrity. The Australians may not be saints but they have every reason to be furious if one of their players is racially abused.
It is also time we stopped pretending that we are always deprived of justice. If anyone is being unfair, it is the BCCI which is using its financial influence to dictate terms in the cricketing world, off the field at least.
There seems to be an atmosphere of triumph in the Indian camp. But it is a matter of shame that Harbhajan has been found guilty of using abusive language against a player. In the interest of cricket and national honour, the BCCI should take steps to ensure that our players stop resorting to sledging as a tool to win matches. It should not hesitate to punish players like Harbhajan and Sreeshanth whose on-field behaviour is far from satisfactory.
The BCCI and the cricketing fraternity may gloat over the dropped charge of racial abuse but the fact that Harbhajan was held guilty of using offensive language against Symonds is shameful. He should be banned from playing cricket. We don’t need such cricketers who tarnish the image of Indian cricket and India.
While we rejoice over the so-called victory in the Harbhajan issue, as a nation that was once led by the Mahatma we should ask ourselves whether he would have considered this a victory. Two wrongs do not make a right. If Australian sledging can cause our players to flare up, in what way are we a better nation? Should we impart such victory-at-all-costs lessons to our future generations?
Whenever Australian batsmen find it difficult to negotiate a high quality bowler, they come up with some trumped-up charge or the other to get him out of the way or at least undermine his bowling. Judge John Hansen probing the issue has clearly stated that it was Andrew Symonds who provoked Harbhajan. Cricket Australia would do well to make its players understand that there can be no shades or degrees of honesty. Either you are honest or dishonest.
None of this absolves Harbhajan of his guilt. Whatever the provocation, he should have informed the umpires and not abused the Aussies. He should be told to behave or face ban for life.
Why was Symonds let off without even a warning while Harbhajan was fined 50 per cent of the Sydney match fee? The Aussies are known for sledging and hurling abuses against all teams. Why are they never punished and not even reprimanded for bringing the gentleman’s game into disrepute?