The Indian cricket team yesterday threatened to suspend its tour of Australia following a sequence of disputed decisions by neutral umpires, the charging (and three-match ban) of Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh over abuse of an Australian player, Indian demands that West Indian umpire Steve Bucknor not stand in the next Test and a senior Indian player smearing Australia as “a team that cheats and lies quite blatantly”. All of which leads Peter Roebuck to conclude:
Ricky Ponting must be sacked as captain of the Australian cricket team.
Why, precisely, Roebuck doesn’t say, offering only broad swipes: Ponting is “arrogant and abrasive”, he’s shown insufficient respect for his “accomplished and widely admired opponents”, and “has not provided the leadership expected”. Oh, and there’s this: his team has a “narrow and self-obsessed viewpoint”. (There’s a line guaranteed to sting a professional sports outfit.) According to Roebuck, the “worst aspect” of the Australian performance was … :
… their conduct at the end. When the last catch was taken they formed into a huddle and started jumping up and down like teenagers at a rave. It was not euphoria. It was ecstasy … Not one player so much as thought about shaking hands with the defeated and departing.
How unseemly. Roebuck also wants Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist sacked and reckons Michael Clarke “cannot be promoted to the vice-captaincy of his country” because:
In the first innings he offered no shot to a straight ball and in the second he remained at the crease after giving an easy catch to slip.
About Harbhajan Singh – unlike Ponting, Hayden, Gilchrist and Clarke, actually suspended by the International Cricket Council – Roebuck is a little more forgiving:
Harbhajan Singh can be an irritating young man but he is head of a family and responsible for raising nine people.
Makes all the difference, then. Why wasn’t the ICC made aware of this? Besides, he’s only guilty of responding to Australian taunts:
Australian fieldsmen fire insults from the corners of their mouths, an intemperate Sikh warrior overreacts and his rudeness is seized upon.
Curse those intemperate Sikh warrior genes! They’ll get you in trouble every time. By the way, the SMH ran this on the front page. It’ll be interesting to see how the Australians deal with reporters from that paper … especially as, claims Roebuck, Ponting has turned them “into a pack of wild dogs”.
Perhaps they’ll “overreact”.
UPDATE. Thoughtful pieces from Gideon Haigh and Greg Baum, who notes that the media “forgot themselves at Indian captain Anil Kumble’s press conference and applauded him for sticking it to Australia.”
UPDATE II. This should liven things up:
The International Cricket Council has confirmed that umpire Steve Bucknor will stand in the third Australia v India Test at Perth from 16 January.