Sunday, January 06, 2008

Sydney Test: It's about truth

You could argue endlessly about the poor umpiring decisions in the Sydney Test that the Indians surprisingly lost after having Australia on the mat twice. But of the two rallies staged by the Australians, one didn't have involve help from the umpires and was the more impressive of the two.

I'll explain. The first saving act was performed by Andrew Symonds - fast becoming Cricket's biggest cry-baby. That one came with a lot of help from the men in white and black. But the second one came with Australia staring down a rare first innings deficit of 49 run and on 90 for two. Captain Ponting had just exited the field, the new batsman in was Mike Hussey, coming off of shaky performances in the first Test. Australia's best batsman Matthew Hayden was beginning to feel the tightness in his back and Harbhajan was ascendant and fizzing the ball off the rough.

Here, the tactics of the Indian bowlers seemed straightforward enough. Spin the ball off the rough and force the batsmen to make a mistake. Knowing the penchant of the Australian's to score quickly, this seemed to be a useful strategy. Thus, Harbhajan gave up all hopes of an LBW decision by pitching the ball outside leg and turning it across the left handers.

And this is where the Australians surprised the Indians. They batted patiently - not worried about putting runs on the board at all. Instead they defended stoutly, Hayden with more confidence than Hussey, and took their singles when they presented themselves. Hayden, in particular, played with soft hands - careful not to mishit anything to the fielders. And with Harbhajan's line - getting him out was impossible unless the batsman made a mistake.

By the time Harbhajan switched back to bowling over the wicket - which predictably resulted in less turn - both had got their eye in and tided over a delicate period for Australia. The pair put on 160 and took the game away from India.

This was the only aspect of the Australian performance that I truly enjoyed in the second Test. As far as playing in the spirit of the game goes, Peter English in his piece on Cricinfo finally puts into words what Dad has been saying for years:
Australians see catching differently to appealing and walking. They say it's up to the umpire to decide on edges and lbws, but when it comes to knowing whether a ball has carried, the fielder is the best person to judge. What they miss is that both arguments are about telling the truth. Why should Clarke be trusted to rule on a potentially match-turning catch when he stayed at the crease on day four after edging a ball to first slip?

Still I believe the Indian team is fighting a losing battle here. This argument over sledging - or as I like to call it: Australia's plan B - needs to be fought in the board rooms and not on the field when its much too late.



Anonymous said...

As one of the millions of outraged cricket-fans, it was interesting to read how much Bucknor earns!Am pasting the article here.With that sort of money he has no business to be doing a shoddy job! I think Benson should be warned too. Its not as if he has done a great job.

Steve Bucknor is the man very much in the news, both here and back in India, for his abysmal umpiring in this key second Test against Australia, and even as he flubs and stutters his way through yet another assignment, a local newspaper has dug out just how much he is raking in all the while.

According to the Sunday Telegraph, Bucknor draws up to $440 an hour for his work in the field.

In 2007, he was paid $120,000 for 34 days of umpiring — a tidy sum for getting it wrong more often than right.

For many India fans, here is some bad news. The 61 year old Jamaican has indicated that he wants to continue umpiring till 2011 when he turns 65.

He has already officiated in a record 120 Tests and it looked like his career was over when he was part of the horrendous mix-up in the final of the World Cup last March.

Yet, here he is, and will stay with India till at least the Perth Test.

Anonymous said...

Heres some VOI news for Saritha and other fans of VOI. Toshi was attacked on the head by a group of hooligans in Mumbai. Is in hospital but out of on the news channels.
I happened to see an episode of 'Bol Baby Bol'(I am so impressed peopel manage to remember lyrics of so many songs')Priyani won 10 lakh rupees!!Wow!The other VOI contestants participated too but I dont know how much they won.

Anonymous said...

I was just mentioning to my husband this Friday that Chotte Ustaad is seeking such publicity with all news channels talkign about Jayant;s gradual loss of vision. I sympathise woth the boy, but I thot it was getting too melodramatic.I was relieved Lil Champs was not resorting to such gimmicks.(esp since Sahils mother being a dhobin and Rohit;s not having a mother, was announced after they got eliminated) But I guess I spoke too soon.The way they went overboard with Amir;s being a poor autodriver;s son, and the hullah created, changed my opinion. I am so glad Sonu Nigam expressed his disagreement with such tactics....I guess he had to, cos in the neginning of the show, he kept saying 'this is the number one show wothout resorting to any gimmicks blah blah'.

Anonymous said...

For those who were as horrified as I was,while reading my published comments,I apologise for all the spelling mistakes.I was in a hurry!

Unknown said...

anu g, do you happen to have a link to the Bucknor article? I am hugely curious! (Thanks for the info, as always).

Saritha said...

Good to have you back,anu.

Gosh!That's absurd.Why would anyone want to hurt a singer?

Reg Jayant,I read somewhere that Smita Thackery invited him over Tea and promised him to do what she can about his eye sight.I really hope he gets treated.

Anonymous said...

Aspi, this article appeared in a local Hyderabadi newspaper called Deccan Chronicle but quoting the Telegraph. I google searched for it, and found the article which is so much more interesting than what i it is:,22049,23012034-5006069,00.html

Anonymous said...

Btw, my daughter is very curious to know why 'monkey' is being termed 'racist'. She has two arguments:
1. All humans have originated from apemen.
2. She calls her brother 'monkey' when she is exasperated with him.But she also calls him by other names like Idiot and many others.....
So whats the big deal!!!

Unknown said...

anu g, thanks for the link. And I think your daughter hit upon something critical in this whole mess - interpretations vary across cultures.

Which is why when someone sledges the Indian cricket team with anything hostile, the BCCI should simply call it unacceptable in our culture and force the ICC to write some laws to that effect.

Anonymous said...

Anu g, this is in answer to your daughter...
My take is that many darker skinned or tribal people have been called "monkey" as a way of putting them down. This name calling is done with the intention of labelling that group as "primitive." Yes, interpretations vary across cultures but as compassionate human beings we also have a duty to be sensitive to other people's sore spots. And if an insult is truly inadvertent then an explanation/apology is in order.

Unknown said...

Mind Rush, quite right. If Symonds were willing to apologize to Bhajji for calling him a bastard, which is offensive in any language, then I'd say the word "monkey" is worth an apology as well.

Given the context most people use it in India, it seems like a way to describe an out of control person - which Symonds is. On the other hand, Symonds has expressed his discomfort over that word to Bhajji during the Indian tour - something which our spinning sardar should have kept in mind before going to town.

Anonymous said...

I understand that there r different interpretations. But frankly, after reading the sort of comments the Aussies generally say, a word like 'monkey' as a gaali seems like a nursery chant.
But again, Sachin says Harbhajan never said anything like that.The icc has no audio or video proof. If the Aussie players' word is taken as witness, then why not the opinion of Sachin who was there too?Now India can start claiming of racist and biased behaviour by the icc!
Heres an article:

Anonymous said...

Mind Rush, yes, u r right about apologising if u know a person is sensitive, and still rub it in. I somehow never thought of monkey' as racist cos its very freely used in India 'pyaar se' when kids keep jumping around and playing.

Anonymous said...

Anu, interestingly someone of Indian descent was on the receiving end of the monkey-is-racist line of thought - in Virginia last year, one of the candidates for senator called this INdian kid who was volunteering for his rival a "macaca". It became a huge deal and he was made to apologize. So this isn't the first time the word has come up.

Anonymous said...

I thought I'd share what I read on a news site which says the Indian team is going to follow a zero-tolerance policy on sledging. Heres a part of it:

The Indians argue that "monkey" is not racially insulting in their country. Hogg is understood to have said, "I'm looking forward to running through you bastards," and the Indians claim "bastard" is deeply offensive in their culture.

"This is a serious term. It has a lot of bad meanings back in India and we are very sensitive about these issues. In India, we do not have children without getting married. It is a taboo and it is not accepted in the society. A child born out of wedlock is considered to be very low and an outcast. We don't use this word at all, only when you really want to abuse somebody in a derogatory manner," claimed Chauhan.

"First Dhoni informed me and then Anil Kumble also confirmed that the word was used and it was in full hearing distance. Ricky Ponting heard that and checked Brad Hogg because he understood the meaning," Chauhan added.

Anonymous said...

Maybe they should playback AB's speech to Zeenat from Laawaris :D

Unknown said...

amrita, you have a tremendous memory and I'm glad you brought Laawaris up - reminds me to do a post that I've had in my head for long.