Monday, January 7, 2008

Ban is unjustified option

As the Indian team launches a battle off the field against the allegation of racist remarks against Harbhajan Singh, the elders of the city’s cricket fraternity are all with them. P.R. Man Singh, who knows international cricket better than many, feels India should pull out of the third Test at Perth as a mark of protest if the off-spinner is not given a clean chit. "I won’t say they should abandon the tour because a lot of money is involved, but they should not play the third Test."

"Harbhajan has been framed. There was no conclusive evidence of him using the word ‘monkey’. Still the match referee has banned him. This is inexplicable," Man Singh fumed. "Mike Procter is from a country (South Africa) which was banned by the ICC for decades because of racism. So I expected Procter to handle this issue better. He could have at best reprimanded Bhajji, saying if he has done it, it’s wrong and shouldn’t be repeated."

R. Sridhar, the coach of the under-19 Hyderabad team, said this is an Australian ploy to weaken India. "Since they have problems playing Harbhajan, they are trying to push him out by hook or by crook," Sridhar remarked. "Though we don’t actually know what words were exchanged between Symonds and Harbhajan, I don’t think there was enough evidence for punishing him like that."

Man Singh also pointed out that that in the wake of this controversy, nobody should forget the shoddy work of umpires Steve Bucknor and Mark Benson. They ruined the game," he complained. "Their competency is not unquestionable anymore. They should gracefully call it a day like Srinivas Venkatraghavan did as soon as he started to make mistakes as an Elite Panel umpire." He also demanded the ICC to evaluate the match referee’s performance.

Considering that Procter was the man in charge in the infamous World Cup final this year when the two umpires made a mess of the rain rule, and also in the Pakistan versus England Test at The Oval last year, Procter cannot be respected as a match referee, Man Singh said. "If ICC can evaluate players and umpires, they should also evaluate match referees."