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Nudge becomes big, Aussies to probe ?insult?

The 'Sharad Pawar shove' the Australian cricketers staged on the dais of the Champions Trophy presentation is snowballing into a major controversy.

india Updated: Nov 08, 2006 10:54 IST

The 'Sharad Pawar shove' the Australian cricketers staged on the dais of the Champions Trophy presentation is snowballing into a major controversy.

Though Pawar himself has reiterated that he did not feel slighted by the Australian captain Ricky Ponting and his mates urging him off the stage during the presentation, Cricket Australia (CA) said it would investigate reports of the "rude behaviour" by the team.

"You are all blowing this out of proportion," Pawar said on Tuesday. "It is true that all the Australian players had crowded the stage and that I felt a jolt," added the BCCI president. "But that wasn't intentional. I have seen the footage myself. There is nothing to all this."

But Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) saw the issue in a very different light - his party colleagues took to the streets in Mumbai to protest against what they termed their leader's "humiliation".

"We will make a formal complaint to the Australian embassy," said Chaggan Bhujbal of the NCP.

The Australians arrived home on Tuesday to prepare for this month's home Ashes series.

CA spokesman Peter Young said the organisation would investigate the alleged insult to Pawar. "The players have only just arrived back in Australia and over the course of the next few days we will just be finding out what, if anything, did or did not happen," he said.

Young said the players had talked about the importance of respect for players and officials at the pre-Ashes boot camp in August. That may be so, but mere talk of "importance of respect" is not likely to cool tempers in India.

Even Sachin Tendulkar, who prefers to stay silent on controversial matters, took a swipe at the Aussies. "From what I heard, it was unpleasant and uncalled for," Tendulkar said in Mumbai on Monday.

On Tuesday, more cricketers joined in the criticism of the Australians. Sunil Gavaskar said thatPawar was not only nudged off the dais but was addressed as "hiya buddy" by one of the Australians.

Gavaskar, present on the stage on Sunday night, condemned the incident. "I am not amused by one of the Australian players, who said 'hiya buddy' when he went up to receive his medallion from Mr Pawar," Gavaskar told a Mumbai newspaper.

"Just receive it quietly… You are not in your country. In India, we respect our elders. A certain decorum has to be maintained, you have to show respect.

Would they have done such a thing to their Prime Minister?" Gavaskar said.

At the presentation ceremony, Gavaskar gave away the Player of the Series award to Chris Gayle.

"I did that and walked to my original position and was then told to go to the left," Gavaskar added. "It is possible Mr Pawar forgot his way too. Australia waited all these years to win the Champions Trophy. Surely, they could have waited for Mr Pawar to be escorted by the lady from the ICC rather than nudging him away." Indian chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar said the incident was "appalling".

“You expect such behaviour from uneducated people,” Vengsarkar said. “If they wanted to pose for photographs, they could have politely requested him. This is appalling.” Former skipper Mohd Azharuddin, Yuvraj Singh and Yashpal Sharma added their voices to the chorus of reproof.

First Published: Nov 08, 2006 10:54 IST