A nervy Australian run-chase after an outstanding bowling performance saw them creep over the line for a final over five-wicket victory over South Africa to begin their T20 World Cup campaign.
The recently concluded Anderson-Jadeja push-gate farce reminds me of the Harbhajan-Symonds monkey-gate fracas.
1) The antagonists had a previous history of riling everyone the wrong way
Harbhajan Singh had supposedly abused Andrew Symonds previously in Mumbai before Sydney. Likewise, James Anderson has long been known to continuously sledge his opponents on the field of play, going against his off-field persona. This was one of the reasons for the hard line taken by the two captains MS Dhoni and Ricky Ponting
2) Unsympathetic image of victim
Ravi Jadeja and Symonds were unlikely victims, in the sense that Symonds projected a tough-guy image on the field throughout his career – who could forget him shoulder charging a pitch invader.
While Jadeja himself is considered by most as flashy, not many take him as a serious Test match player. His $2 million job with the Chennai Super Kings reinforces his image as a spoilt brat.
3) Hardline taken by the captains rather than the victim
In both cases the complaint was made by the captain rather than the victim, because as speculated above, they both felt that a line had been violated and the perpetrators need to be taught a lesson
4) Failed back-channel mediations
Kumble and others from the Indian dressing room were supposed to have sent informal feelers to Ponting to drop the issue. Likewise, the ECB and ICC both tried arbitration but failed eventually due to the hard-line taken by the Indian and Australia teams, especially the captain in both cases.
5) Insufficient evidence that overturned match referees initial conviction
Did Harbhajan call Symonds a monkey? – most likely yes. Did Anderson push Jadeja deliberately? – again, most likely yes.
But these were not petty sporting misdemeanours. They were serious charges, which if happened outside the sporting arena could have been pursued legally by the affected parties. As such, there needed to be more hardcore evidence then just a case of ‘he said she said’ argument.
6) The questionable process followed by ICC
In the Harbhajan issue, match referee Mike Procter was satisfied that Harbhajan was guilty. Again in the Anderson-Jadeja case the match referee David Boon was convinced that something improper had happened. But when it went to the next level of appeal the ICC-appointed-legal-adjudicator ruled that there was insufficient evidence.
7) Behind-the-scenes collusion between the boards
The Australian cricketers felt let down by their board, who didn’t want BCCI to walk away from the series.
Similarly the Dhoni’s boss and ICC president-elect N Srinivasan reportedly tried to talk Dhoni into backing-off as the BCCI president didn’t want his recently formed arrangement with the English and Australian boards to be rocked
The final word
Harbhajan eventually got slapped with a 16-match ban by his own board for slapping his colleague Sreeshanth.
Now that Alastair Cook has come out backing Anderson’s on-field sledging, I expect his harma to catch-up with him eventually.