Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Weeding Out The Story

Now Matthew Hayden has gone and called Harbhajan Singh an “obnoxious little weed”! Whether you agree with that sentiment or not is immaterial. What isn’t, is the sense of making the statement at all.

The Australians (and the Indians to a lesser extent) have made this a summer to remember with their big mouths. And that’s been useful for us newsmongers. But at some level, you do wish it would stop now. There’s been enough. Not any more! At least the unwarranted ones. The ones that don’t come with a provocation.

But that’s never going to happen as far as the Aussies are concerned, see. Because this is the Australian way, and that’s not about to change.

First of all, Hayden’s statement, or Symonds’ statements since the incident with Ishant Sharma, does have a provocation – a common one. That India have reached the final. So India have reached the final of the tri-series – that’s the action, the provocation. That the Aussies must now talk, is the reaction, the retaliation.

Secondly, what can anyone do about Hayden calling Harbhajan an “obnoxious little weed”? Nothing. The ICC has no jurisdiction over what a player does off the field, in an interview. The only thing that can, logically be done, is that Harbhajan can file a defamation suit against Hayden. But surely no one is going to take things that far!

And what the inability to react is going to do, is to make Harbhajan more and more agitated as the days go by and he has to wait before having a go at Hayden on the field – on the 2nd of March in Sydney. Harbhajan also knows that being a spinner, he is probably not going to have a bowl at Hayden anyway. Hayden is going to get out well before that (going by Hayden’s recent form). And that’s going to frustrate Harbhajan more.

Now the Australians have perfected this art, haven’t they? Harbhajan is the worst behaved cricketer in history, because all his little tantrums on the field down the years have been carried out stupidly. He hasn’t figured out how to misbehave without being caught. Which is exactly what the Australians have done so successfully. Is Harbhajan worse than McGrath? Or Lehmann? Or some of the others? No, but he’s not smart enough. No Indian is. Ganguly was. Which is why Symonds says what he does to Ishant and nothing happens. But Ishant reacts by openly pointing to the pavilion. Who gets the wrong end of the stick? Obviously Ishant.

That’s being Aussie. They never play by the rules, but they never break the rules either. They will find loopholes in the law. They will stretch the law far as possible. Like the Chappell Brothers’ Underarm Show, or the Lillee Aluminum Bat Show, or all the McGrath Shows. None of these were illegal. They were against the spirit of the game. But the spirit is intangible. It doesn’t stop you from being the best in the world in terms of collecting trophies.

And now, Harbhajan’s going to pick up another reprimand in the final – you mark my words.