The disappointment of losing a Test was bad enough but the Indians hadn’t prepared for anything like what happened a lot, lot later. To say that Harbhajan Singh’s ban has left Anil Kumble’s men devastated would be understating the obvious.
There were players who were saying that the whole thing was a farce, that Harbhajan and everyone else - Sachin Tendulkar included - who argued his case for so long after an almost full day’s hurly burly at the SCG were just made to go through the motions.
The team management, to a man, has not accepted match referee Mike Procter’s verdict.
“We maintained that no such words were uttered. Despite this, the match referee did not pay heed to our version and that's unacceptable. Instead, he went by the deposition of two Australian players -— Michael Clarke and Matthew Hayden — that they had heard Harbhajan uttering the racial words,” India manager Chetan Chauhan said.
There is though no question of calling off the tour despite what happened today, Chauhan said.
Yes, there is talk of appeal and Harbhajan, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has assured, will be backed to the full but relations between the teams would now be tetchy at best. Terrible at worst.
And the gentleman’s agreement that Ricky Ponting referred to while talking about the catch that Michael Clarke took to contentiously claim Sourav Ganguly’s wicket is off.
“After this, no way,” said a senior player. “You cannot be expected to honour people who have no honour of their own and no sense of fairplay.”
The player’s comment found an echo in a statement Sunil Gavaskar made in another context. How can the umpires go by what a player (Ricky Ponting) who hadn’t walked in the first innings and another who stood his ground after being clearly out in the second (Clarke) said, Gavaskar had said.
Clearly, the players aren’t the only ones fuming here.