Bangalore: “It’s sad, isn’t it?” asks an anguished voice. And when the voice belongs to G.R. Viswanath, batting legend and more than that, perhaps the perfect gentleman ever to play cricket for India, the angst is understandable.
Asked about the episode between Harbhajan Singh and S. Sreesanth and the resultant 11-match IPL ban on the off-spinner, Viswanath said: “These things should never happen on a cricket field. What happened was assault and it cannot be permitted.
“Perhaps the IPL committee also wanted to prove that the tournament is not just bang-bang and it is indeed serious cricket where the rules and spirit of the game cannot be compromised.”
Has the excessive aggro robbed the game of its much-touted ‘Gentleman spirit’? “Well not all players get involved in such incidents but if you look at both Harbhajan and Sreesanth, they have had their turns before match referees in their careers so you do have two individuals who are known for their aggression.
Just not done!
“But this time, the lines were crossed. You cannot hit a player and here it is someone with whom you have played together. The ICC rule on assault is also stringent and I think the Board will also take a decision based on that besides the IPL ban.
“As for cricketers and crossing the line goes, now we do have match referees in domestic cricket and players are aware that rules cannot be broken. Hopefully these incidents will never happen again,” Viswanath said.
Viswanath has played against aggressive cricketers like Javed Miandad and Vivian Richards but he stresses that he never felt any wrong vibes.
“No. I never faced any misconduct during my time. I never indulged in any misconduct, nor did I sledge anyone and nobody sledged me when I batted. I guess things have now changed,” said Viswanath.