The Harbhajan-racism-poor umpiring-cricket tour affair is getting curiouser and curiouser. The latest are accusations by columnists and former cricketers that the BCCI is holding world cricket to ransom by threatening to pull out of the tour. From Glenn McGrath to Clive Lloyd to illustrious presspersons at the Australian newspaper, everyone is condemning the ICC’s decision to sack Steve Bucknor as umpire for the third test at Perth beginning on the 16th of January. To add insult to the injury, the Australian claims that Symonds tried to work out his differences with Harbhajan Singh after the match but that Harbhajan was unresponsive. In short, everything that has happened since then, including poor umpiring, calling Dhoni and Kumble bastards and the judgement against Harbhajan are the making of the Indian team. They alone are responsible for the current state of affairs. The Australians play hard and “fair” after all.
What irks me is the allegation that the ICC has bowed to pressure from the BCCI and acted is a rather invertebrate manner. I have only one question to ask of all these people. Why should the Indian board be apologetic about throwing its weight around and getting its work done? Is that not what Australia and England had been doing for decades? From politics to trade and commerce to sport, the rich and the powerful have always dictated policies. So, why should cricket be any different? If it is acceptable that the EU and the US throw their weight around and manage to retain subsidies on agriculture at the WTO, much against the wishes of at least 120 other countries, why should the BCCI not do the same in the world of cricket? After all, everyone plays for money. Would any of these cricketers, be they Indian, Australian or Kenyan play for honour alone? Would cricket be the same without Indian money or multinational sponsors? Why then, are we pretending to care about the supposed neutrality of the ICC and its alleged capitulation to pressure from India? You are free to think what you want. I call it hypocrisy.
Now, back to the racism issue. India has complained against Brad Hogg for allegedly calling Kumble and Dhoni bastards. Which brings us to a rather interesting question, as posed by Robert Craddock. Would you be more offended if someone called you a monkey, than if they called you a bastard? Hmm… Interesting question that… Even more interesting are the responses the question has evoked. One reader takes the pains to explain that calling a person a bastard is a serious insult because Indians attach great importance to parentage and being illegitimate is a stigma. To this, another reader (presumably Australian) says,
“Well this suggests there is a serious problem in Indian society where people born without married parents are some how considered less of a person than someone born with married parents. This probably breaches the universal declaration of human rights, and parts of the Geneva convention (which incidentally was in part written by an Australian).”
According to this explanation, I should be free to call any Australian (or Brit/Frenchman/Canadian et. al.) a bastard because many people in the west have children outside of wedlock. So, our cricketers are free to call Ricky Ponting as Mr. Bastard Ponting. Bastard is not offensive after all. And as another person comments,
“I’ve had a quick look at the code & I’m struggling to see how “bastard” qualifies as a contravention.”
So, here’s my message to the Men in Blue. According to our friends in Australia, bastard is not an insult. Guys, you are free to call anyone, including Mike Proctor and Steve Bucknor a bastard. They, after all, do not share the same value system as us and what is insulting to us is normal to them. But, you may not, under any circumstances, call any of them, of any colour or hue, a monkey, donkey, dog or cat. That would be construed as a racist remark and the team will be banned from playing. On second thoughts, maybe you should call them donkeys or something. At least then, you won’t have to tolerate a bunch of arrogant toerags for the whole of next month.