Vantage point

Tuesday, February 11, 2003


This is a proverb in hindi which means "Your blood is precious, but our blood is worth water?", which basically means "Why this partisan behaviour?".

I am talking about something that happens in the cricketing world all the time. And what has prompted me to comment is this news. It is early days yet for this news, but mark my words, there will be a clamour all over the world to let Shane Warne play anyway, using the "medicine" argument. Everyone will cluck their tongues and say "what a great guy he is", and how he got stuck in it unintentionally. The only reason he will not be castigated is that he is an Australian. I love the Aussie team, they play great cricket and are truly the best right now, but I am very pissed off with this special treatment they get, not only from the cricket authorities, but the media as well.

Whenever any Australian misbehaves on field, he is given the lightest punishment possible, or often let off with just a warning. If anyone else misbehaves, BAM, 3 match suspension. Who can forget the way Slater yelled at Dravid, then yelled in the umpire's face, arguing that he had taken the catch even though the TV umpire decided it was not out, as was clearly evident in the TV replays. What did he get? A cut of his match fees, that is all. And if an Indian or Pakistani appeals too long, then it is called "pressurising the umpire", and on the bench he goes for 2 matches. Maybe we should just start yelling in their faces.

Then there was the Darren Lehmann incident last month. During a match, he made a racist comment to a Sri Lankan, calling him a "black b******", among other things. He was docked only 5 matches, whereas the maximum punishment that can be given is 8 matches. Not only that, everyone was sympathising with him, saying "Oh he is such a nice guy. Why did this happen to him?". I mean "happen" to him? Hullo? Did he not bring it upon himself? Spare a thought for the Lankan who faced this ignominy. He should have socked him in the face. Imagine if someone had called an Australian "you son of a convict", what would the reaction have been? It is clear double standards. If the Aussies can't control their tongues while sledging, they better stop doing it.

What I hate is these double standards. When Ganguly and the Indians fought fire to fire, be it sledging or "psychological disintegration" in the media, the Aussies cried foul, complaining this is not done. When New Zealand took advantage of the rules to keep the Aussies out of the Carlton Series finals last year, Waugh again whined saying "rules must be changed", conveniently forgetting that he had done the same thing to New Zealand in the 99 World Cup, albeit unsuccessfully. They can dish it out, but sure as hell can't take it.

Now you have this Warne incident. Already he has been let off once by the ACB when according to them, he and Mark Waugh took money from a bookie to "provide weather information". Yeah right! Like they are the only source of information about weather. There was definitely something more to it than meets the eye. Otherwise why would the ACB keep it under wraps for 5 years? Now he says he is "devastated" that he has been caught in a drug test. First of all, it was because of a medicine that led to an unnaturally speedy recovery from an injury. So it is unfair anyway. Secondly, the Aussies are supposed to be the most advanced team when it comes to physical fitness and sports medicine. The ICC had announced long back that it would conduct random tests during this World Cup, with the list of the banned substances. This list is largely taken from what is banned in the Olympics, in which Australia has always done well. So do not give me this bullshit "We didn't know it was illegal" argument. Aparna Popat lost months because there was something forbidden in her cold medicine. If he has taken drugs which helped him in some way, he should be kept out of the World Cup. Otherwise the ICC will be setting a very bad precedent.

So be prepared for all the whiney goody goody comments from all the senior Aussie cricketers, saying "Oh poor Warnie, he had no idea how he recovered so fast from that injury. Bummer, life is so unfair". He will be heaped with good wishes and probably play later on. Actually the next stage of the results are yet to come. So who knows? Warne might be innocent after all. But that is not the point here. I don't mind Warne playing. In fact his exit makes it harder for India to win against Australia on the 15th ;-). But what sickens me is this attitude of "It's OK to do wrong, because you are the best in the world."

But again, think. If it had been an Indian or a Pakistani who had tested positive, wouldn't the media and everyone have torn them apart? Remember Sunita Rani before she was proved to be innocent.