Everyone is saying it’s over, but the tension between the sides is yet to disappear. It’s not exactly simmering, but an undercurrent can be felt at the slightest provocation.
<b1>There is discontent in the Australia team that Justice John Hansen let Harbhajan Singh get away with just a fine while the
media here is convinced that India’s stranglehold over the commerce of cricket played a key role in the ICC Appeals Commissioner’s judgement.
On Thursday, Ricky Ponting, for obvious reasons, didn’t say anything on how big a role the BCCI’s financial clout could have played, but didn’t forget to mention that Hansen had pointed out he had not been given the full details of Harbhajan’s past acts of misconduct.
"The judge has made it pretty clear that even he was a bit disappointed with the severity, or non-severity, of his findings…Basically, because he wasn’t handed some pretty vital and important information. There’s no doubt there’d be a few players in the Australian dressing room who would be a little bit disappointed with the outcome as well."
The captain was on the defensive when asked whether he thought the penalty was inadequate. "I have made it clear that to me, it was not about the verdict or the penalty. It was about an appropriate outcome, letting justice run its natural course."
Sensing that he was going a little too far, Ponting was quick to lob the ball in Cricket Australia’s court. "I’m sure Cricket Australia will get to the bottom of that. It’s not up to the players or me. Cricket Australia will take it up with the appropriate people and hopefully, ensure that this sort of stuff doesn’t slip through the net again,” said the Aussie skipper.
While explaining his verdict, Hansen had also been critical of Andrew Symonds and said his behaviour was below the expected levels of sportsmanship. Ponting had a bit of blocking to do on the player’s behalf also.
"Any sort of character assassination on Symonds would be completely unfair. He’s someone who doesn’t want this stuff happening. It has taken a toll on him and it’s taken a toll on me as well. Now it’s time to start enjoying the game, and no better way to start than a Twenty20 game at the MCG, in front of 90,000 people.”
Undoubtedly, that would be a welcome change. Despite what happened in the last few weeks, the teams did dish out some quality stuff. Hopefully, that will continue in the coming weeks, but it can’t be said with guarantee that the bitterness will not linger.