It’s cricket, but not as we knew it

While I don’t follow it anywhere near as closely as I used to, I still retain an affection for Test cricket, (as opposed to the limited over stuff which can be entertaining but is ultimately disposable). I keep a half-eye on the games played around the world (with much greater frequency than a few decades ago) and usually spend a bit of time around this time of year watching it on the TV.

I found some of the actions and comments during the recent Sydney Test match hard to stomach, and if the websites and letters to the editor are anything to go by, the controversy over the way the Australian cricket team won their recent Test match against India has become a massive talking point – not just in Australia and India, but in other cricket playing countries too.

Peter Roebuck, a well respected cricket commentator with an extensive understanding of the culture of the game around the world, has written a  column calling for the Australian cricket captain, Ricky Ponting, to be sacked – a huge call for someone of his experience to make. It is currently the most read article on the websites of both The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald.

Stories relating to the controversy are also featuring at or near the top of the ‘most read’ lists on many other mainstream media websites, and there are hundreds of reader comments. 

I have been surprised at the large numbers of letters in the Australian papers from local people who are very critical of the Australians. This suggests to me that the hostility and dismay towards the way some of the Australian cricketers carry on is quite deep and strong even within Australia and is a good sign that many people can look past patriotic jingoism and openly discuss some of the real issues that are afflicting the game.

I doubt this has all developed just because of the collection of less than ideal actions that occurred in just this one Test match. It is much more likely to have developed over time and I suspect a large part of the reason is the notorious sledging which Australia has become famous/infamous for.

No doubt sledging is in the eye of the beholder. One person’s playful teasing can be another’s obnoxious posturing. Personally, I thought the advertisement which screened repeatedly during the game – which I think was about some sort of competition to win a game of backyard cricket with some of the Test team – featuring young kids giving some tough guy lip to the Test players was signalled to me that the culture of sledging has already poisoned the game probably beyond redemption. I’m sure the advert was all in good fun and all that, but regardless of the joke, it painted a very clear picture of what is assumed to be standard practice for any person playing the game, no matter how young and even when it’s meant to be backyard fun.

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  1. So do you think the term “monkey” is racist? I’m not sure about that.

    My father used to play grade cricket (50-60 years ago) and he says sledging has always been part of the game – maybe it’s worse now, but I suspect it’s just that it’s more publicised and in the public view/hearing.

  2. I was listening on radio rather than watching TV (with the benefit of Mr Roebuck’s comments, among others). I was hoping for a draw and, yes, the Australians should have been embarrassed to win with so much help from the umpires.

    Liz, I’m not sure that ‘racist’ is the right term, but Symonds is clearly offended by being called a monkey. The Indian defence that the monkey is a clever animal in Indian culture and that they have a monkey god just doesn’t wash.

    Tendulkar in his press conference was saying that Harbhajan Singh’s comment was friendly ignores the fact that Symonds found it offensive and Harhajan knew he would because he had been involved in the ‘monkey’ incident in India.

    The Indians, we were told on the Teev tonight, were horrified that at the hearing the great Tendulkar’s word had not been believed. But whether Tendulkar denied that Harbhajan used the term is not known. The Indians are also implying that Symonds, Ponting, Gilchrist, Hayden and Michael Clarke were lying.

    Andrew, I made a comment on the issue of sledging, but failes to tick that box about accepting the comments policy and lost it.

    The shorter version is that I suspect that the Australians are better at getting inside their opponents head than most other teams, but they do it within the guidlines alid down and under the supervision of umpires and referees. I’m not saying that this aspect should not be reviewed, however.

  3. Sorry about my substandard proofing. That shaould have been “guidlines laid down” for example.

  4. Oh!Dear! Monkey….primate…..Andrew Symonds ,AS,Arsenic,…Ricky Ponting RP, RePeat, to chant…What do you do between wickets in cricket with a dicket when you spend the money for the ticket ?When the players from Australias are boring ,as when Australians do the Mexican Wave!Misbehave!? Learn to rave, reduce the brave to the grave,cannot save them from a leg before the wicket.Morse Code,try the upload ,think about wether or not,if you said the word Monkey would you like to be arrested for it!?I say,.Oh!Shit! I am a Singh said the cricketer within,my fellow countrymen have been arrested for mentioning one word,like its dropping a great big turd on the whole country because some may still worship the monkey.I heard a cricketing commentary on the ABC, that said, that Australians as culture always play on words.Strange!?A new range from another country,has put some noses out of joint.Must I point out!?

  5. Andrew,

    I really don’t think citing Roebuck as a “well respected commentator” will do much for your cricket street cred.

    I’d stick with Richie, if I were you.


  6. I think there is a been a bit of an overreaction, fuelled of course by the subcontinental media and supporters and an undercurrent of concern about the way the oft combative Australians play the game.

  7. I didn’t see the advertisement with the kids in it, but this kind of behaviour on the part of children is becoming an increasingly common event in the homes, schools and anywhere else children go.

    There is very little respect for other people at any level of society these days.

    People involved in any kind of international sport are very competitive. When the financial stakes are high, there is also more stress involved.

    As for such a huge fuss over one black man calling another a monkey, can’t we just try to remember what we learned in our youth?

    “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”

    I’m tired of people whingeing about racism at every opportunity. I’d call it personism in this instance.

    As I advised my Korean niece, if anyone calls her “China Girl” again, she must think of a good name for him/her.

  8. “Monkey”,used in a casual context would not be offensive or racist.The Indians have persisted with this tag for Andrew Symonds in the hope that it will diminish his cricket ability.It has become offensive by the very fact of their intent.Apparently people of dark skin colour being racist,is less offensive than Anglos exhibiting similar attitudes.

    The Indians in the past have used all manner of tricks and deception to win a test.We are rolling over by the very fact of the econimic power of India.Ricky Ponting and his team are just reflecting the intensity and attidudes of the Indians,and they don’t like being beaten at their own game and it isn’t necessarily cricket.

  9. You dont say.Arjay!?I think the cricketers of Australia are cricketers,what anyone else says is simply not going to be their thoughts.I am not rolling over for India,I am a grown up,I think cricket is over rated.If the Indian population as cricket followers and cricketers have some psychological superiority over us,it will not be found chanting at a cricket match,but more tolerating opinion which allows them to see the world is indeed strange.How hard it must be being arrested for calling somebody in a game,which you have paid for, a monkey.And how strange indeed to be accused of a racist matter on this,unless ones name means a particular race..but that doesnt mean much,because calling people monkeys is universal,and not India derived.Must people be virgins about this word,after all it is a fairly prominent word..and doesnt suggest directly say….baboons arse…mandrills balls….gorilla gonads, or even those orang utans who may sometimes be the colour of a cricket ball.Until it is required to rub in public down ones inner thigh.A bit too serious here.Try being bored instead of boring.

  10. Having wandered around the SCG and many other cricket ovals here and abroad for some 20 years through the 70’s and 80’s there is nothing particularly new in all of this, in terms of sledging and the like.

    What is new is the transforming of a self regulatory regime into an imposed regulatory regime – not unlike many other facets of society. So we have the ICC trying to set on players a regulatory regime to satisfy the never ending desire for “management and regulation” (so beloved by the Democrats and other social reformers of the 80’s I might say) that the public and squealing media has now been brought up on and slowly but surely we slide further into compliance, eg new security measures, internet porn filters, powers bestowed on the police for our own good what an oxymoron that is, the list goes on. Maybe there’s something in Coral’s green capitalist communist paranoia after all.

    Why would cricket be any different, couple that with the emotion of Ponting being Singh’s bunny and don’t think they wouldn’t have been giving it to him over that, and the chance to get him back and the associated impact of that on his behaviour. The context of the poor umpiring played a big roel in this two – so a series of events converging together and bingo.

    What should have and what would have happened prior to the imposition of rules was that when the lines were overstepped, senior players and / or the captains would cool it down, sort it out later and that was that.

  11. Long memory Kenny,has transformed what Corral said,to a form of red under the bed…with a dope plant in the beds slant.HE also without abandon noted that the Democrats were into management and regulation.This must mean that someone with the relevant authorities forgot to tell the offending Indian cricketer,that, without any analysis of conditions.. on the day,to use the word monkey… is the most insulting thing you could call our cricketers.Long memory Ken,no doubt, as he wondered around the cricket grounds in the 70s and 80s will actually present an example of this Democrat policy other than the specifics associated with language inside a sporting pavilion,under State government regulations even then. Go on… a straight bowl right hand over the wicket,please!It is over to you long memory Ken!Gee!I really need full time employment..I have had enough of the Telstra Bills and the opinions generated by a storm in a tea cup,which may have been a momentary problem.

  12. Of course “monkey” is racist. It’s a reference to the idea that black people aren’t fully evolved. The Indians are selling shirts showing the evolution from monkey (with Symond’s head) up to human (with Harbijan’s head).

    If a white Australian had said something similar to a black player from another country then we wouldn’t hear the end of it. But for some reason the same rules don’t apply to Harbijan. I wonder why.

  13. What is the business connection between Harbijan and the sellers of the T shirts?..As the hump man got a video or other legally enforceable ,in India ,evidence.. that the cricketer has anything to do with it.There is no need to wonder why! They dont like Symonds!I visited a web site where it was showing an Australian cricketer pushing away a Master of Ceremonies type,so they could stand there and smile incessantly to the cameras.If you think that is a great heroic Australian act.. I dont.It was offensive to me,as much as anyone who finds the attitudes of professional sports persons… right up their nose.I suspect a very large population of Australians dislike that,as I would also suspect the Indian TV audience who saw it did also.Pigs arse.. to you Arjay!And as a side issue,I have seen offensive cricket t-shirts,but, what was on then escapes me.Eh!Australian made.

  14. Lets keep it simple for you Phil.

    Cricketers have alwasy sworn at each other.

    They used to do that before codes of conduct and lo and behold sorted it out.

    Our lives are overburdnened with rules and regualations and people like Speed and the Presidnet of the BCCI sticking their noses in, in my viwe. No ones is asking you to agree.

    Can you get the three fairly simple concpets.

    Stick to the prickles and moaning about Telstra Phil

  15. That’s not very nice, Ken.

    A person can get quite tired of all of the disgusting behaviour that occurs these days. How about this one from tonight’s news?

    Someone is marketing extremely distasteful teeshirts promoting promiscuity, drunkenness, greed etc to tweenies.

    John Humphreys:

    You have taken the term “monkey” much too seriously. They were both black men for Christ’s sake, and even if they weren’t, I’m tired of the term “racist” being bandied about every time the slightest thing is said.

    I do agree that all sportspeople could treat one another with a greater degree of respect, regardless of their colour.

  16. I am living up to Mark s requirements,I wont say a thing,just type this in instead.Good on your Ken,there is no doubt about you,your the only expert on me,and how I play Telstra at concpets.Concpets as a game is simple,first you must decide wether you are playing with a prickle against opponents or an inflatable dirigible,I think Dickhead rubberitoutanddoitagain have the sole merchandising.Anyone else into concpets we could start up a National competition.Until the people of India call themselves Black,that is a great marketing concept Coral…apply to the International Cricketing Board before the critiques of Democrats and myself here do!Maybe they will finance concpets competitions!?

  17. I used to have Indian neighbours. They considered themselves neither black nor Asian. I thought they were black Asians. Their skins were black and they came from a part of Asia.

    So why Indians want to pick on the Australian cricketer, using some kind of neanderthalic racial discrimination, makes no sense at all.

  18. I cannot really tell you Ken, or claims of rampant racism will fly. But here is what the lady of the house had to say:

    “Everyone’s a racist.” This included herself.

    What the hell! They all considered themselves to be well above any other race of people, except for “Granny”. She was an exceptional human being of mixed race, who had suffered racial prejudice from both Indians and Fijians.

    She was my friend for many years until her death. She spoke good English, Hindi and Fijian. I sat at her bedside on the day that she died – luckily intuition got me there on the right day.

    No one had bothered to tell me that she was even sick.

  19. Some of you miss the basic point. None of it was about you. It’s whether Andrew Symonds was insulted; that’s the point. As already pointed out, he experienced this in India last year from the crowd. Also, no one can excuse or forgive a wrong, only the one who feels slighted. Racism should have no place in any field of endeavour, sport or workplace. It’s hurtful, demeaning and destructive. As a ‘white’ person, how would I know about racism? As a woman I’m subjected to sexism, and I think ‘racism and sexism are the twin towers of evil’ (not original, but good)I have empathy for unnecessary and cruel taunts that remove a human being’s right to dignity and to just “be”.

    I think the Australian team behaved like bad sports after the game. You shake hands with the opposition batsmen and umpires before you start celebrating. I understand their joy, but it was not right. I love cricket, but I felt ashamed and sad. The Aussies need to take stock, and the behaviour of the Indian when he took Ponting’s wicket was also over the top. You can goad the opposition without swearing or being offensive – it’s called good manners and sportsmanship.

    I understand that the Indian people don’t use the “f” word, so perhaps he was just selecting a comparable word when he was insulted. Either way, they should all stop behaving like little boys and grow up. I’ve known kids in the playground with better manners and sense of sportsmanship. I hope they’ve all learnt lessons from this debacle! 2 weeks of nonsense? Truly!

    I’d have taken both teams to task for their behaviour, and ‘slapped’ (so to speak)the Aussies into line for their arrogance. One hour in the rooms would have done it. I’d send the umpires for that special eye test (not just 20-20 but perception, apparently)tell the channel 9 commentators to also grow up, and go back to listening to the ABC with TV – mute!Sad after a great ending! I was excited too! Win with grace!

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