Confrontations between Harbhajan Singh (right) and Andrew Symonds, during a ODI at Mumbai in 2007 and one during the Sydney Test the next year, have added spice to the India-Australia rivalry. Photo: Getty Images
There were rumours floating in the air when the Mumbai Indians (MI) first signed Ricky Ponting in this year’s IPL auction that it wouldn’t be a long-term partnership.
Besides the fact that Ponting was already a retired cricketer there was talk that he was going to stoke the proverbial fire in his soon-to-released-autobiography — The Close of Play.
Ponting duly obliged, and the person at the receiving end was one who has handled his fair share of criticism — MI icon player Sachin Tendulkar.
It’s almost became a fad to take aim at Sachin when releasing your autobiography — Shoaib Akhtar and Adam Gilchrist chose to walk down a similar line, not the least to maximise book sales.
Ponting joins in
Ponting didn’t disappoint. The obvious bone of contention as in Adam Gilchrist’s ‘True Colours’ and Malcom Conn’s ‘Sticky Wicket’ was Sachin’s involvement in the Monkeygate scandal that engulfed the cricket world during India’s tour of Down Under in 2007-08.
Gilchrist’s first claim, that he wasn’t able to find Tendulkar in the dressing room after India lost that infamous SCG Test, falls flat.
No sportsman likes to lose. Isiah Thomas and his Detroit Pistons’ Bad Boys walked off the court before the final buzzer after losing to Chicago Bulls in 1991, a team that they had beaten, not just on the scoresheet, for three straight seasons. It was pretty much a similar reaction to the one that Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics had doled out to the Pistons after years of domination.
The second claim, reiterated in both Gilly and Ponting’s book, that Tendulkar lied in the proceedings is worth examining.
It is worth sharing that at the time even Australia’s own board, Cricket Australia, was trying to bury the situation. Not only had the BCCI signed a lucrative IPL agreement with CA and Cricket South Africa a week before the Test, but more gravely the BCCI had threatened to pull out if the racist claims weren’t dropped.
The Australia players were as disappointed by the attitude of their board as they were with a new force threatening to shake up the established order.
Both Gilly and Punter claimed that Sachin had first said that he didn’t hear what was said, but suddenly changed his statement in front of the judge and claimed that Harbhajan hadn’t actually called Symonds a ‘monkey’ but had rather used a Hindi curse that sounded much like the racial taunt.
Conspiracy theorists have for years argued how Sachin’s statement turned the entire proceedings on its head, but they miss the point. What should have Sachin said?
Plato was arguably the smartest man that ever lived, and he argued in favour of the noble lie, he said that if it truly benefits all involved, it is actually okay to lie. Now, the point isn’t if Sachin lied or not, but rather, if it was a noble lie or not!