Monday, March 3, 2008

Sane voices in a mental asylum

There's been a lot of bad blood between the two teams this season, unlike any other I've seen.
There have been instances of opposing teams not being the best of pals- recent examples being England-Australia, South Africa-Australia, Sri Lanka-Australia etc (noticed a trend didn't you?).

However, there has never been animosity between Australia and India- only respect, or even awe to great performers on either side. Harbhajan was not the obnoxious weed when Hayden toured in 2001, or 2005 (except perhaps when he kept picking his wicket!), and Symonds wasn't even in the fray to be provoked- he hadn't even established himself. (He's a weed who has taken root pretty recently). So there had been no problems for the Aussies with the Indians (of course, they are not absolutely in peace with anyone, but well...). And if at all there had been any, the media knew nothing about it, until this summer.

It has been one of the most controversial of the last decade. Something new springs up at every step. At the drop of the hat you have the media ready to gobble anything new to grossly magnify, prevaricate and "sell" to their eager ardent readers (of gossip).

At this juncture, Hayden's comment was entirely unwarranted. He knew the delicate state between the teams, and was it absolutely necessary to give a comment from the heart? It would have been better, and fitting in fact, had he hit Harbhajan for a few sixes and give vent to his feelings in the pitch.

Whether they do it unwittingly or as part of a strategy to incite and provoke the Indians, we may never know. The problem lies in the fact that the Australians are weeds who are unwilling to change. And the new Indian team, filled with hot blooded youngsters finds it hard to bite their teeth and tolerate such cocky behavior, like their illustrious peers, who kept the action on the field, and within cricketing limits. After all, the Aussies are the ones being beaten! So why should they be the arrogant brats! The whole idea of the Indians is ironical. They must just let the losers whine while the winners shine. Even the level headed Dhoni speaks about teaching the "art of sledging" to Indian youngsters, so that they may give the Aussies a taste of their own medicine.

They mustn't forget one thing-there can be good friendship between the members of these two teams, if they make an effort. Neither a (humbug of a) public apology (Not that anyone is willing to do that), nor will handshaking and hugging in front of the media would help amend relations.
Only shifting the attention wholly to cricket is the need of the hour.

Just look at the way the two great warhorses of either side- Lee and Sachin conduct themselves, and you have a ready made solution for this problem.
Lee had just sent in a life-threating beamer, of course unintended, and immediately apologized, Tendulkar started walking towards the leg side to regain his concentration (he was on 98 at that time); Lee walked further upto him and offered his hand and Tendulkar duly obliged by putting his arms into Lee's. Both were in smiles.

The apology was so truly genuine, and Sachin happy, even bemused at Lee's gesture. In fact, he wouldn't have called Lee "a bully" hadn't he persisted with the apology. Because both of them knew each other. It was a glorious moment. I must say each and every guilty party who watched that- the likes of Sreesanth, Harbhajan, Symonds, Hayden, etc. must have been shamed by the kind of friendship, kind of mutual respect these two have, the kind of friendship they could have only in the dreams of fans like us.

Not only that incident, these two have been far away from all this filth right from the start. In fact, Lee and Sachin are two names to come out of this untarnished, and that's a miracle, considering the way they have performed in this tour.
Both have excelled everybody in their respective departments, played hard competitive cricket, and duly respected the achievements of the opponents.

Whenever Lee sent a bouncer or a good ball that unsettled Tendulkar, he would nod his head acknowledging the good effort. And we all know Lee's felicitation of Sachin after the magnificient hundred in the Test at the same venue- Sydney, by patting Sachin on his helmet.
Why don't the players look at Sachin and Lee and learn from them, or why doesn't the media talk extensively about how such a friendship (the way it clinically dissects every controversial incident to the minutest detail) can stand unfettered by the fire that rages around them?

Fans like me who love Hayden's batting and Symonds all round skills, Bhajji's tweakers, and Sreesanth's fiery bowling can only dream of the day when Sreesanth would put his hands between Symond's.

Such a moment may not arrive at all, but if ever Bhajji and Hayden wanted to know what it is to play good cricket and chill off with your opponents after the game, they needn't look far- Lee and Sachin are having a drink (non-alcoholic perhaps, how would I know?) right beside their brawl.

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