There’s been a spate of highly publicized attacks on Indian stuents in Australia recently. Pretty gruesome stuff — I think one student had a “petrol bomb” thrown at him — and another one was attacked with a screwdriver. The whole affair has received a lot of attention in the Indian media, especially after film star Amitabh Bachchan refused an honorary degree from a Brisbane university because of the fracas.
Things are getting even weirder now: apparently, a cousin of Harbhajan Singh alleges a Melbourne taxi driver killed his son and left his body on railroad tracks. I really don’t know how much credence to give this story, because the Deccan Chronicle — which published the charges — is fairly respectable, but its article does not quote any Australian sources (or any Indian police sources either).
But here’s my problem: first, would these attacks receive as much publicity in India if not for the country’s often difficult cricketing relations with Australia? Second, why can’t Australians and Indians get along in the cricket world? I understand why South Asians would be attacked in a white-majority Australia, but I’m not sure I’ve ever figured out why the two cricket teams would have any beef with each other.
(Indeed, one of the most mystifying things about the Harbhajan-Symonds scandal was that it involved two non-white players, who otherwise would have found much to agree on.)
I have some theories: 1) India, an emerging economy prone to increasingly jingoisitc displays (tied to a post-colonial inferiority complex) feels Australia lords its cricketing superiority too bluntly and without respect to opposition teams. Other countries don’t take this to heart, but India feels it’s a cultural slight. 2) India’s cricket team, for once, could be world champions and therefore need to beat the current champions, Australia. Hence, conflict. 3) The two teams used to play with different styles — India, more spin- and attrition-friendly; Australia, more “modern” and aggressive. The two styles clash, both in strategy and onfield behavior. 4) Australia think India mistakes its financial clout and love for the game for actual onfield talent. In other words: the Indians act too big for their boots.
I’m sure there are other theories, less convoluted than the above. Feel free to state yours in the comments.