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Procter may be taking out frustration of pre-apartheid days

india Updated: Jan 09, 2008 15:16 IST
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I had the misfortune of dealing with Mike Procter in 2003 during a Test match against Bangladesh. He handed me a five-match ban for claiming a catch behind wicket when television replays showed that the ball had touched the ground.

During the hearing I told him I did not know it was a bump catch but I got a feeling he was not willing to believe a Pakistani player could make an honest mistake.

Eventually, his punishment of five one day internationals ban led to my saying goodbye to cricket.

I got a feeling (I might be wrong) that he was taking out his frustration of the pre-apartheid days when South Africa were banned from international cricket on the Asian players.

What has happened during and after the Sydney Test between India and Australia is certainly not good for cricket's already tattered image.

But I firmly believe that while the Indian media and part of the international press is justified to some extent in going after Australian captain, Ricky Pointing and his team for their antics during the Sydney Test and even questioning the extent of their gamesmanship, I think everyone needs to go back to the Twenty20 World Cup to understand the Australian's behaviour. From what I have observed it is clear that the Australian's are stretching their gamesmanship only against the Indians and frankly speaking the ball was set rolling by the Indians themselves during the T20 tournament with some childish behaviour.

Take a look at the India and Australia match and you will see that Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh and S Sreesanth had gone overboard with their celebrations against Australia.

This animosity continued when Australia toured India for the one-day series with the Sreesanth antics and the Andrew Symonds taunts.

I get a feeling that the Australians were waiting for India to play in their own backyard to pay them back in their own coin in gamesmanship and this has led to what has happened.

I am not defending the actions of the umpires who made some glaring mistakes or the match referee, Mike Procter but honesty speaking I think the Indian players also need to review their behaviour.

It is natural for any team to be arrogant when they are dominating world cricket like Australia is doing but the answer to breaking their arrogance is not to resort to gamesmanship like the Indians have tried to do, specially some of their younger players, but to beat the Aussies on the field.

In that context, the Indians certainly have every right to feel slighted because they suffered some glaring umpiring blunders in Sydney and if these decisions had not gone against them the result might have been different.

Certainly there was no justification for the way Symonds got let-offs on the first day from the umpires and it changed the course of the match. Procter should have kept this in mind while ruling on the Harbhajan racist remarks charge. He should have taken the circumstances on the field into consideration.

My mind goes back to the Oval Test in 2006 between Pakistan and England. Even then Mr Procter failed to diffuse an explosive situation and it went out of hand. Eventually the ICC had to step in, like it has done in this case.

I think a more sensible match referee would have called both captains and the team management and told them to cool down things and put the Harbhajan charge aside by putting it down to the ongoing animosity between the two sides or the Indians frustration at the rank poor umpiring.

Ever since Darren Lehmann was banned for racist remarks against the Sri Lankans, the Australians have developed this tendency to prove to everyone that other teams also do this crime.

They brought a charge of making a racist remark against me during the World Cup 2003 and it was not proved.

Having been an international player I know of many instances where players make remarks in the heat of the moment which don't have any meaning except to rile the opponent. A lot of things are said on the field and I think they should remain there.

What has happened during and after the Sydney Test should quickly be resolved because it is greatly damaging for the game.

The ICC clearly needs to review its system of appointing umpires and referees and grading them because they are fast becoming a laughing stock in such issues.

Mr Steve Bucknor has been making glaring mistakes in his last few matches and yet he continues to supervise top matches. Other umpires and referees have blundered and nothing is done to hold them accountable.

I have always felt most of the on-field incidents between teams stem from frustration at poor or stubborn umpiring. I just hope that after the Oval incident, the Sydney Test will finally serve as a catalyst for changes in the way the ICC umpiring and refereeing system and also forces the Indians and Australians to have a long hard look at their ways.

The bottom line is the rest of the cricket world nations are not happy with the Australian arrogance stemming from their cricketing prowess and the arrogance of the Indians built from their knowledge that they control and call the shots in the ever-expanding commercial market and value of cricket and that they control this market. Both need to change their attitude.