Recurring Decimals…..

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Justice? …….Perhaps, and at what cost…..

with 11 comments

Harbhajan’s original sentence handed out in a purely uneven-handed manner by Mike Procter, has been reduced. Apparently, Harbhajan did abuse Symonds, but not racially.
As I had mentioned before, the original conclusion reached by Procter seemed hardly justified. This was further confirmed by the actual text of the rulings which is full of contradictions. However, the manner in which the BCCI has acted while the appeal was being heard, reiterating their pull-out threat, and even chartering a plane to bring the players back if the judgment was not to their liking, leaves a bad taste. As Peter Roebuck says:

India is not some tinpot dictatorship but an international powerhouse, and ought to think and act accordingly. Brinkmanship or not, threatening to take their bat and ball home in the event of a resented verdict being allowed to stand was an abomination. It sets a dreadful precedent. What price justice now?

Other questions remain unanswered. What did Symonds say to Harbhajan to provoke the latter (there have been rumors that it was a homophobic statement, which should not be treated with any less importance than a racial slur) ? How is it that Michael Clarke, who by all video evidences was too far away removed from the action to have heard anything provide testimony saying he did hear the word being used ? Isn’t that perjury ?

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Written by BongoP'o'ndit

January 29, 2008 at 8:28 pm

Posted in Australia, Cricket

11 Responses

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  1. Whoa, so now you want to point the finger at Australian players Symonds & Clarke? Perjury? Aren’t you satisfied with getting Harbhajan off through the intimidation of the BCCI? Why go after the Aussies? It’s just taking it too far.

    As I said to you on my site, players at this level should not necessarily adopt the ‘innocent until proven guilty’ mantra when it comes to racial vilification. They should be man enough to admit they’ve crossed the line and set an example to their millions of fans.

    Isn’t that ‘the spirit of the game’?

    raydixon

    January 29, 2008 at 11:02 pm

  2. @Ray: believe me, I have no ‘satisfaction’ at this incident. Ideally, I think the matter should have ended with Mike Procter – in absence of evidence, Harbhajan should have copped a fine, a suspended sentence, and a strong warning (or even a one match ban). What inflamed the issue was Procter’s wordings that he was ‘satisfied beyond doubt’ without providing any evidence.

    I am simply stating that if a hearing has found Harbhajan not guilty of something – shouldn’t it be established why Clarke said he had heard the word ? If Harbhajan is now being accused of using abusive language – shouldnt it be established why he said that ? Of course, this is the ICC, CA and BCCI we are talking about – all more interested in money than any iota of truth.

    If Harbhajan did use the word, certainly, he should be man enough to come out with it (and face consequences). I would have no trouble with a 3-match or even a life-long ban. But you, and a lot of other people are supposing that he did. Don’t you think someone deserves a fair trail before being labeled a ‘racist’ ? Whats happened with Harbhajan is presume guilty till proven innocent, which AFAIK most countries, including Australia dont believe in.

    BongoP'o'ndit

    January 29, 2008 at 11:13 pm

  3. There’s a difference in the way we look at sport here Bongo. We prefer to keep it out of the clutches of lawyers & Judges and do something called ‘self-regulate’.

    In AFL, players are offered a slightly reduced sentence if they plead guilty and avoid a drawn out Tribunal hearing. The guilty ones usually just accept that, even though there are often mitigating circumstances (I’m talking about charges like striking, or ‘rough play’).

    The point is India has taken this ‘innocent until proven guilty’ protection to the nth degree. But we are not talking about murder, rape, kidnapping or bank robbery here. We’re talking about words exchanged on a sporting arena under the eyes of the world.

    Unless and until India understands that it too needs to play ‘in the spirit of the game’ we will see more controversies like this one arise in future.

    Ray Dixon

    January 29, 2008 at 11:37 pm

  4. @Ray: We’re talking about words exchanged on a sporting arena under the eyes of the world.
    Yet no one, other than the accuser seems to have heard the word !! Once again, you are convinced that Harbhajan called Symonds a monkey, while I am not. The AFL case you mentioned happened before my time here, so I don’t know how much of it was caught on TV or tape.

    Self-regulation is well and good, but then some bloke will no-doubt try to take advantage.

    But once again, I agree that if Harbhajan used the words, he should have come out with it. The way it stands, I am not convinced he did.

    Btw, you also have to look at the manner in which ICC conducts these investigations. As you say, in AFL (as in many other professional sports such as soccer, American Football etc) there is a tribunal that takes care of such matters. In this case, ICC lets the Match Referee to conduct the case. They are usually ex-cricketers who may not serve as the best ‘judges’. Imagine a different scenario: Harbhajan gets reported, match referee hold a primary hearing and if he thinks it merits more attention, refers the case to ICC. ICC appoints a proper hearing – meanwhile, Harbhajan is allowed to play, but with his pay withheld. Thereafter, ICC holds the proper tribunal in a reasonable time. The tribunal publishes its findings in an open and transparent manner. If any player is found guilty in this manner, I will have no problems, no matter what their nationality. As it stands, problems will occur in future because there is a severe lack of standards and transparency.

    BongoP'o'ndit

    January 30, 2008 at 12:08 am

  5. The AFL Tribunal consists of ex-players. It’s not a ‘court’ where normal rules of evidence apply. That’s what’s wrong here. Procter’s decision was made (probably) based on his knowledge of the game and gut feeling. Not strictly legal but, in the end, I think that’s the way to go. It’s too easy to hide behind a convoluted legal process and I honestly believe that’s what India & Harbhajan did. He said it, Bongo- the players’ reaction is evidentary and ‘good enough’ in the circumstances.

    raydixon

    January 30, 2008 at 12:22 am

  6. Sorry Bongo, one more example of ‘Aussie sports justice’.

    Horse racing. In Melbourne it’s a massive industry and all race protests are heard by one man, the chief steward Des Gleeson. He quickly listens to all parties, views the film and makes a decision – within minutes. It’s very arbitrary and one man’s opinion, which is based not necessarily on someone being ‘proven guilty’ of interference, more like ‘balance of probabilities’.

    Millions of dollars swing on Gleeson’s decisions but everyone accepts them, because he is regarded as ‘beyond reproach’ … and he is.

    So is Procter in my opinion.

    raydixon

    January 30, 2008 at 12:32 am

  7. @Ray: Thanks for all the comments – you don’t have to apologize 🙂

    Sounds like it is a difference of cultural perception here. The way you describe the horse-racing ruling here, I doubt if it would be acceptable if it happened in India. Most Indians have a strong sense that ‘justice’ should be carried out – by any extreme (usually not violent) means if necessary. Which is why many people supported India’s withdrawal. Which is why the effigy business is thriving 🙂 . Personally, I usually dont agree with the justice (as they see it) at all costs attitude. Thats why I never supported the stance of threatening to withdraw. But I still cannot believe in the ruling that Procter handed out, given the evidence he had.

    Perhaps you are right in saying that Indian should have taken in on the chin and moved on. Unfortunately, there is a whole convoluted history of racism against Indians that regrettably enters the equation. Better not to step into that – else, we’ll be here all night.

    BongoP'o'ndit

    January 30, 2008 at 12:51 am

  8. Yes, there’s a whole convoluted history of racism here too, involving aboriginals, and it’s still a long way from being resolved.

    That’s why racial vilification is such a ‘hot topic’ in Australia. That, and our multi-culturalism, which many people still don’t accept.

    I see it’s late at night over there. Thanks for the exchange of differing cultural opinions. Cheers.

    raydixon

    January 30, 2008 at 1:17 am

  9. @Ray: errr…..I am actually located in Australia currently.

    There is a whole lot to be said about Aussie multiculturalism (and comparisons to melting-potism in the US, where I have spent time as well) – but as I said, to get into those issue is tricky business, especially on a medium such a blog comments.

    I just want to clarify that I probably don’t feel any less strongly about racism than you do. I have no problems with suspending an Indian player if he said ‘monkey’ to an Aussies. Some people argued about whether it constitutes a racial insult, but the fact is that it was agreed upon before the tour that the word would not be used – so that ends there.

    Having said that, I think people as a whole are getting too sensitive about race and stuff. God knows how many times I have had far worse directed at me – both in States and in Australia. If I were to pick up a fight every time, I’d be really wasting time on drunken louts (not to mention, a bit worse for the wear).

    BongoP'o'ndit

    January 30, 2008 at 1:30 am

  10. All are so wrong.
    Symonds, Harbajan and the BCCI.

    Niyaz PK

    January 30, 2008 at 4:19 am

  11. Tendulkar evidence helped Harbhajan

    This has a quote from Symonds:

    “a Test match is no place to be friendly with an opposition player”

    This was his reason for starting the verbal duel with Harbhajan after the latter patted Brett Lee in appreciation for a good delivery.

    Wow! What’s next, Symonds? Carrying a .38 in your pocket?

    Despite such display of cricketing spirit, it is “India” that is getting the flak from Aussie media and columnists. Can’t say I’m surprised.

    I am reminded of some lyrics of an old Amitabh Bachchan song.. Aapka kya hoga janaabe-aali.. “Hum dua bhi dein to, lage hai gaali” 😀

    Not that “teri maan-ki” is a “dua”.. but you get the drift.

    Vivek

    January 30, 2008 at 8:14 am


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