The Australians always seem to get away. Whatever their transgressions on the field, invariably it is their opponents who end up paying a price.
Somehow or the other, teams playing against the Aussies seem to invite the match referee’s wrath.
That is why I am not looking at the most recent incident in the Australia-West Indies series in isolation. In the Delhi Test against us, my last, the one that earned Gautam Gambhir a ban for having a go at Watson, the same umpire and the match referee were officiating.
At that time, the umpire Billy Bowden didn’t see it fit to report Simon Katich who had later obstructed Gautam and the match referee Chris Broad too didn’t bother to act on his own or follow it up with the onfield umpires even though it was very much evident on TV. And as on that occasion, the provocateurs got away in Perth too, with Haddin and Johnson receiving minor reprimands.
There doesn’t seem to be any punishment forthcoming for someone who provokes and that to me is against the principles of natural justice.
Jeff Crowe, of course, had no such issues when he docked Mahendra Singh Dhoni for the team having bowled three overs short. The facts were very evident. It is a huge blow for the Indians and they will surely miss the multi-tasking ability of Dhoni. They will miss his batting (what a hundred he made in Nagpur when under pressure), his wicket-keeping and his leadership skills.
When you are defending a total though these things happen. Sometimes you do lose track of time but having said that this is international cricket and you have to be mindful of everything and you have to be aware all the time of what’s happening.
What you need to do to avoid such situations is stay ahead of time. The last overs will always be tension filled and there is an understandable tendency to take additional time to take decisions.
But if you are ahead of the clock, say by the 34th over when the second drinks break is taken, you will get that much more time to plan. Also the entire team needs to rally around the captain, especially on Indian grounds where all the noise makes communication very tough. And when you have three medium-pacers to operate the last overs, some time has to be given for that too.
For stand-in captain Sehwag, the next two games will be a test. One thing I am confident of is that captaincy doesn’t affect his batting. He has led India in the past, both in Tests and ODI’s and so it will not be anything new for him.
What he and the team need to do is come up with a plan to tackle the unorthodox hitting of Dilshan and the orthodox batting of Sangakkara. On these unhelpful tracks it is a tough ask but perhaps the answer lies in striking with the new ball.