South Africa’s coach just joined the Harbhajan-Sreesanth controversy, but adds fewer than the entry fee’s required two cents. First, he notes that his team had several issues with both players, especially after Sreesanth abused De Villiers and Harbhajan went after that meekest of batsmen, Ashwell Prince. (The latter point is particularly distressing, since Prince is black, revealing a distressing pattern with Harbhajan.)
But Arthur should have uttered his points and left it at that. Instead, he has to go on about not being a “squealer,” and why he didn’t say anything before:
“At the end of the day, we are not squealers,” Arthur said. “We strongly believe that what happens on the field stays on it. Besides, we were very happy with the general spirit in which the series was played in, and we left with very pleasant memories of the tour, especially the cricket that was played.”
Well, let’s put aside the obvious contradiction here: Arthur says he’s not a squealer, just as he complains about the two players’ behavior. But that’s not what’s distressing: I don’t understand exactly why players should be treated as squealers for having a difficult time with another player’s on-field behavior. This argument came up before, during the Sydney Test fiasco, when Australians and Indians criticized Andrew Symonds for not “taking it like a man,” essentially, and leaving the racist remark on the cricket field where it belonged.
It’s an infuriating comment to make, because it puts the onus and guilt on the abused player, rather than the abuser. There’s absolutely no reason to insist that players keep these comments buried within their chests; the whole point of rules about behavior is to offer protection and ensure a modicum of good taste on the pitch. And it echoes an awful part of the racial discourse in America, where minorities are often told to take racist comments in stride; don’t be so sensitive; oh, come on, chin up and get on with it. That might be good advice as self-help, but it fails to address the person who made the racial comment in the first place, and absolves him/her of all the responsibility.
So, Arthur, dispense with the needless two-step, because not only does it make you sound incoherent, but also makes it more difficult for players to rightfully speak up when confronted with a grievance. In other words: “I am a squealer, and I’m proud of it: Sreesanth and Harbhajan are bastards.”