Cricket Sours Relations Between Australia and India
Probably of interest to two people around here and a dog and maybe a few tumbleweeds, but anyway.....
Australia and India are currently playing each other in a cricket series in Australia. The games are called 'tests' and they are meant to go over 5 days. Yes, yes, I know the Americans who read this will roll out the 'boring' adjective for test cricket, but I can assure you that once you know the ins and outs of the game it is nothing of the sort. The tension builds for days and each day, each minute, has its uncertainties and trials. There is a constant psychological battle between opponents and once hooked into the game it is hard to forget it. If you see a great test match you have seen one of the greatest sporting contests you will ever see.
Anyway, in the test just finished in Sydney, the Australian team won the game with minutes to spare after a titanic battle over the five days. However, though the game was one of the greatest in the history of the sport, the umpiring (or referering if you will) was extremely poor and sorely favoured the home side (umpires come from different countries to those competing). The Indians would surely had won this game if they had of had an impartial treatment from the umpires. (there are two umpires and they have virtually no assistance from technology to assist their decisions)
India is totally absorbed by cricket. It is a nation of great contrasts and widely differing classes all unified in a love of a game first invented by the English. Players are treated as virtual Gods in India. Players cannot venture into public because they are mobbed by fans, sort of like the Beatles in their heyday. Millions play the game on every apposite street corner and many hundreds of millions more follow the players at the national level.
To rub salt into the Indian wound for the loss was the fact that one of the Indian players was charged with racism, namely calling a black Australian player a 'monkey' on the field. It does sound bad, but having played cricket I can assure you a lot worse is said on a cricket field between opponents and I am of the belief that what is said on the field should bloody well stay there.
To add further to the mix is the fact the Australian team has been acting like a pack of pork chops on the field. They seem to be whooping it up in the American fashion which just isn't done in cricket....'trash talk' is not something that is associated with the ideals of the sport of cricket, but it has crept into the game.....Aussies don't mind a bit of 'mental disintegration', but acting like tools when you have a small victory over an opponent and jumping all over each other like a pack of poofs at a poof party as seems to happen in the USA with every other sport is really frowned upon by many of us. Even the captain of our national team, which is one of the most priveledged posts in our country, higher even than our highest elected leader, our Prime Minister, has been acting like a Class A idiot on the field. Many Australians think he has brought great discredit to our country....
....and certainly many Indians think that way! There have been a stack of effigies burnt of umpires, players and even cricket officials in India. Not to mention the headlines. This sporting contest is grabbing all of the attention in both countries and has the potential to affect diplomatic relations as well.
Don't believe me? Check out the top stories in the Sydney Morning Herald and India's Hindustan Times, or the Times of India....it has supplanted every other story and will do so for some weeks. This will be one of the biggest sports stories on the globe of this year and probably of this decade. Not that you will hear about it Stateside, but it is one of the rare instances where sport is on the front pages and not the back.....and it isn't the first time where cricket has been there nor probably the last.