Another Australian Book, Another Media Storm

I swear, these Australians have way too much time on their hands. I can understand a little newspaper column here and there, but can these guys please stop putting out books every other week? Don’t they make enough money that they don’t need to put out more gossipy drivel for the sake of a quick buck? 

Maybe I should go easier on Ponting’s latest literary effort, Captain’s Diaries. He seems very careful — much more than idiot-of-the-year, Adam Gilchrist (why would you even think about attacking Sachin Tendulkar? Does he not realize how powerful the Indian market is? Does he still want to play in the IPL?). He merely says that an Indian senior player hoped that the process would not get too bogged down after the Symonds-Harbhajan affair. Fair enough.

And there is some good stuff here: he describes the infamous meeting that Symonds had with Harbhajan in Mumbai during the Future Cup ODI series–

“He walked out of our dressing room, knocked on the Indian team’s door, asked to see Harbhajan, confronted him and said flatly, ‘Don’t do it again’,” Ponting wrote. “When Symmo returned to our room, he told us that after he explained how much the insult had affected him, while Harbhajan had not admitted that he said it, he did acknowledge that it was unacceptable, had apologised for any offence, and assured Symmo there’d be no repeat.”

But Ponting clearly still feels some resentment over the whole thing. He talks about wanting “justice” served during the Sydney affair, and questions the motivation of the Indian team during the entire crisis (he says that it wouldn’t be good for the Indian team’s image if one of its members was accused of “racial abuse”; the obvious implication being that he doesn’t think that Indian team would react negatively because they thought Harbhajan was actually innocent). 

Where does this all leave us? Regular readers will recall that I took a rather original position during the crisis; I thought Harbhajan did actually say the word “monkey,” but that that didn’t qualify as “racial abuse,” since there are many cultural misunderstandings going on here. The way the Australians talked about this — see, our crowds ain’t so bad; even the Indians are doing it! — kind of offended me, because it equated white racism with brown prejudice, which are two very different things, given the history of colonialism and current global economic and political structures. 

Now, I think the Australians are even more full of it: Gilchrist claims that Tendulkar changed his tune, even though Gilchrist’s version of events is disputed, and Tendulkar never actually contradicted himself. Moreover, Ponting obviously thinks that the whole legal affair was a sham, even though he started the whole thing in the first place.

But here’s the thing: if you think the legal system is unfair, you need to make a pro-active case for reforming with it. Putting out books that undermine confidence in the whole affair is, ironically, equal with what the BCCI does when it pressures referrees and loudly appeals cases. Either you respect the process, or you don’t, Ricky. You can’t have it both ways — so the next time the BCCI loses its head about a player getting banned, you should keep quiet, because you obviously don’t think the process is worth it anyway.

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