I always had respect for the Australian cricket team’s game until I witnessed what they did in Sydney. The match was memorable for a lot of reasons- some right, most wrong.
For the first time, we also saw the Aussie sportsmanship being replaced by such a strong thirst for a win that they stooped down to shameful levels. The arrogance of the world champions has driven the spirit of healthy competition out of them. They were quite shocked with India’s response in the first innings because they had not faced opposition in the last 15 matches they played. They resorted to unacceptable measures on and off the field.
Whoever goes to the match referee for on-field sledging? The Aussies don’t even have the right to, because their team is the fore-runner when it comes to playing on-field word games. People who watch the telecast from their homes are not blind to not see the number of times the lips of their players shape to say the f-word. I don’t even think Bhajji called Symonds a monkey. Even if he did (he deserved it), I don’t think it falls in the domain of racial discrimination. Kindergarten kids often use monkey and donkey in their harmless banter.
The glaring blunders by the umpires were just one-too-many. Either they chose to err, or they have a genuine problem of the sensory system. The latter however, seems unlikely. If they had a problem in sighting the ball or listening to the edges, it should have affected decisions against both the team’s batsmen. As most of us know, this was certainly not the case. The former is a possibility, but I am assuming the integrity of men that operate on the panel at international level should not be doubted.
It was more like the umpires were in awe of the appeals the Kangaroos made. They were tested time and again, with appeals that didn’t even qualify as appeals. The way Dravid or Yuvraj were given out was absolutely crazy. The third umpire with all that gadgetry available to him could not have gone wrong with Symond’s decision. And then asking the fielding captain whether the batsman was caught cleanly was like asking a barber if you needed a haircut!! It is hats off to the Indian players for having fought so hard before going down in a battle which could not have been won. The next time Steve "Slow death" Bucknor shows our batters the finger, they know which finger to show in response.
The Aussie media might call Indians bad losers. They say a champion team is one that raises its game in the time of adversity. Agreed Indians didn’t bat well in the second innings but why were Ganguly and Dravid not given a chance to fight it out for India in the second innings? Agreed that they could have bowled better to the Aussies in the latter half of the game, but do they think Australia could have been won the game had Symonds been adjudged out when he was at 30 in the first innings? He went on to make a 130 more!
My heart goes out to Anil Kumble and his players for having conducted himself with such dignity. Our team deserved to win. Australia won the match, but the game of cricket lost like never before. For me, the Australian team is now nothing but a bunch of arrogant and cheap players. They should learn to behave like world-champions.