Category Archives: Sledging

Australia Attacks On Indian Students Spill Into Cricket World

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: Continue reading


Andrew Symonds’ IPL Sledging

Andrew Symonds’ talents were on full display during the IPL final between the Deccan Chargers and the Royal Challengers Bangalore, and I’m not just talking about his batting and bowling.

For what looked like a good minute, Symonds went after Manish Pandey, the 19-year-old batsman who briefly lighted the IPL world with some great late performances. I don’t exactly what Symonds said, but he just kept walking after poor Pandey, who did nothing wrong other than show up to bat. (You can watch the exchange here.) I completely agreed with commentator Harsha Bhogle, who said Symonds should pick on someone his own size. “He’s only a boy,” Bhogle noted.

It’s true that I don’t like Symonds. I started to think twice about him after his recent travails (alcoholism, bad form, losing place in the national squad, violence), but then came this latest unprovoked bout of bad temper. I don’t care for sledging all that much, even if it does yield exciting moments (like the infamous Venkatesh Prasad-Aamir Sohail clash). I think the much ballyhooed “spirit” of the game thing is important (even in Twenty20) and that verbal abuse should count as much against a player as physical abuse.

Don’t get me wrong: throw a glare to a batsman after you’ve just bounced him, or tease and prod if you must with a smile (as Brett Lee does), but don’t run around another player just because you think he might be vulnerable.

Are We All Australian Now?

I was looking at yesterday’s post that called on India to dominate New Zealand, and I started to feel a bit embarrassed. While I’ve enjoyed India’s recent success as much as anyone else, I’ve also had qualms about whether or not we’ve lost a certain “Indian” method of winning, taking too many pages from the Australian cookbook. During the 2007 India-Australia series, for instance, I was particularly irked when the Indian media urged the team to respond tit-for-tat to any perceived Australian sledge. If they do it, the argument went, we can do it even better!

I wonder, though, if the Indian brand of cricket — an attritional, patient game that respects draws and fate and also relies on crumbling pitches and wily spinners — has been lost in the modern age. Continue reading

Australian Cricket Writings

It’s a genre of its own, steadily expanding: first, there was Adam Gilchrist, and all the revelations of an un-sportsmanlike Tendulkar. Then, there was Ricky Ponting, offering another account of the Sydney crisis. And now, the main man himself, Andrew Symonds, picks up the plume and begins to write himself. Where does this all leave us?

First: Gilchrist, I think, is an idiot. Continue reading

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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: Continue reading

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Trial And Testimony: Gambhir, Sachs, And Cricket

I meant to blog about this when it came out — clearly, I can’t keep up with the Internet’s fast pace — but Albie Sachs’s opinion on the Gambhir-Watson merits some reading from cricket fans. I don’t know what kind of reaction “Gambhir-gate” attracted in India, but if I knew any better, I’m sure it echoed the hysteria that the BCCI displayed when the ban was decided. 

Let’s review: Gambhir and Watson get into each other’s faces during the 3rd Test Match. Then, when returning for a second run, Gambhir coyly puts his elbow out and lets Watson — reportedly, a very, very big man — have a little touch. A one-match ban takes effect for one; a fine for the other. 

Now, this is clearly a violation (or two) of those much talked-of but rarely-seen principles of cricket, and Gambhir admitted as much when he pleaded guilty. Chris Broad, however, felt that the physical contact went too far and could not be ignored, and so settled for the penalty he chose (apparently, he originally wanted a two-match ban, because of Gambhir’s run-in with Afridi, but he compromised after the umpires told him just how mean and nasty Watson and Co. were). 

Gambhir appealed, but Albie Sachs deferred. The BCCI gets angry, and cry upon cry is raised about the hypocrisy of the whole system. I think both sides have some merit, and I want to offer that kind of nuance into the debate: Continue reading

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Gambhir’s Battles

When Gautam Gambhir first came onto the scene, I didn’t want anything to do with him. He was forever frustrating, always slashing outside his off-stump and losing his wicket in a way that suggested he was more a dolt than an intelligent team player. 

Of course, that was then. The man has changed. But he’s still quite fiery; out of all the new generation cricketers — Raina, Uthappa, Gambhir — he’s known for his on-field hot temper. If you want to see all the sledging antics on Day at Kotla, please head over to:

(Watch in particular as Katich stands literally in front of Gambhir and prevents him from trying to take a run. Of course, you can also watch as Gambhir fairly gratuitously knocks Watson with his left elbow, and then fails to apologize. I don’t like either Watson or Katich, so I’ll forgive him this time.)

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Regulating Spirit Fairly

I’ve written before about changing the framework that currently regulates on-field behavior in the gentleman’s game. There are a few problems in the present system: complexity, ambiguity, lack of enforcement. But it’s also very ineffective. If authorities are serious about wanting players to play nice, they can’t be happy with the last few years, as every India-Australia series will attest. The underlying strutucal factors — namely, an exploding television audience — demand more friction and drama, and players will be only too happy to oblige.

What can be done about it? Continue reading

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Ian Bell Tolls For Thee

I wanted to write a post about the engima that is Ian Bell, the almost-double centurion against South Africa, but I see that Alex Massie has beaten me to it. He’s right when he notes that Bell cops far more criticism than is warranted (no one should be compared to the Shermanator), especially given the statistical background that puts him ahead of much of England’s batting line-up.

Still, Bell’s a difficult figure to root for or feel confident in. Continue reading

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Only Connect: Desmond Tutu Takes The Spirit

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the legendary anti-apartheid leader from South Africa, delivered a moving and perceptive speech this week at Lord’s, as part of the annual Cowdrey Lecture series. So far, Tutu’s address has earned most attention for its call to boycott Zimbabwe and Robert Mugabe’s “pariah” regime. That is as it should be, but a listen to the entire lecture yields many interesting points about the game’s “spirit,” and its face and role in society. I want to talk about a few tidbits, but be sure to listen to the full version (and Andrew Strauss’s reaction) here.

Continue reading

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