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Players are the problem - not umpires

Jonathan Agnew | 15:17 UK time, Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Anybody who finds themselves surprised by the events on India's tour of Australia must have been living on a different planet for the past five years.

The unedifying drama unfolding in Sydney is the result of a number of issues which have been bubbling away beneath the surface with increasing intensity.

They all exploded in a furious head as Australia single-mindedly homed in on their record-equalling 16th Test victory, without giving a damn about the consequences on the way.

Let’s start what will probably be a controversial, but honest, assessment by congratulating Australia on their achievement.

What a shame it is that the legacy of this fine team will be so tarnished by the ugly and offensive manner in which it plays the game – and has done for at least three years.

Ricky Ponting’s men have trampled all over the spirit of cricket by offering the lame excuse that they are "hard". In their world, deliberately conning the umpire is part and parcel of the game: “It’s his decision," they offer as a cop-out.

Just look at Andrew Symonds, who visibly gloated for the media when he admitted he had got away with a catch behind the wicket early in his first innings - what a miserable performance.

And what effect does that have on the umpire’s confidence – or that of the players in him?

This Australia team plays the game to win – there’s nothing wrong in that – but it has negated its responsibility to those who watch it and, more importantly, the next generation of cricketers who will inherit the battered sprit of cricket that Ponting’s team leaves in its trail.

Cricket can be an aggressive sport, but it is the ball and the bat that should do the talking. The hostile, nasty and intimidating environment that the Australians create on the pitch is a key ingredient in unsettling an opponent.

Little wonder that, sometimes, a volatile character lashes out in what he would perceive as self-defence, and what does it say of these "hard" men that they then go and report him to the umpire?

They can give it, but can’t take it.

That, of course, does not offer any defence for racism. If Harbhajan Singh did racially abuse Symonds, he must be punished for it.

But the above might offer some insight into how a cowed opponent could suddenly react to the intense pressure and intimidation that has been deliberately and ruthlessly applied to him by the fielding team.

Purely because we are talking about India here, I am going to throw in Sreesanth’s name as an example of an Indian cricketer who has often – and recently - gone well beyond the spirit of cricket: it is not purely an Australian thing.

And that is why the decision to remove Steve Bucknor from the next Test is so short-sighted.

As I warned when Darrell Hair was seen off by the Pakistan Cricket Board 18 months ago, the way was opened for powerful cricket teams to dispose of officials when a decision is made they do not like. How dare the game be held to ransom in this way.

But the real fault lies with the players – and it is their behaviour, attitude and respect for the game and its traditions that need urgently to be addressed.

Umpires will always make mistakes – just as the players do (although you wouldn’t believe it sometimes) and undermining their confidence by removing their most senior colleague in this way is unbelievably foolish.

Cricket is truly at a crossroads.

Administered these days by businessmen who have no feel for, or genuine love and understanding of the game, cricket is played purely for money, ego and power for those who control it.

Goodness knows where it will end unless a stand is taken, and that action must be directed by all the countries at all of their players, and not the umpires.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 03:31 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Tim wrote:

I must agree with everything Jonathan has said. Cricket is at a crossroads indeed. Unfortunately I feel under its present 'leadership' it will take the wrong path forward.

  • 2.
  • At 03:32 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Colin wrote:

Thanks Jonathan. The best article on this story that I've read over the past few days, and I completely agree - It's about time the Australians were put straight about how they've been playing cricket.

  • 3.
  • At 03:33 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Monkey at the Zoo wrote:

Well done Aggers, I believe you have the hit the nail well and truly on the head. I remember growing up watching, and playing cricket, where the batsman would walk if he was out and bowlers only appealed if they genuinely believed the batsman was out. Today's test teams, and it's not just Australia and India, have lost sight about what is important in the game of cricket, and for me it's a great turn off.

I can only hope Vaughn is reading these articles and will, before the next test starts in NZ, ask his team if they would prefer to win by pushing the laws of the game to the extreme or to lose by being fair, honest cricketers......

  • 4.
  • At 03:34 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • phil smith wrote:

Could not agree more with these sentiments - the time has come for the ICC to stand up to powerful players and teams and their lack of respect for the game. That includes England, but should undoubtedly start with the australians. Judging by most reports coming from down under - even the australians are disgusted withtheir teams behaviour.

  • 5.
  • At 03:34 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Harvey wrote:

I whole heartedly agree with Aggers comment. It is a crying shame that Steve Bucknor has to be dragged into the mess that is a new and ever increasing feature of watching the Aussies play cricket. I mean what would have happened if the arena's (in Austrailia) where players from South Africa were barracked with racial & food abuse, were stopped from hosting test cricket?
Gotta say the whole episode has been lame from start to finish and adding the racial twist just makes it even more absurd.

  • 6.
  • At 03:35 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Baz wrote:

Well said Aggers! Good to see someone talking with sense and guts. I don't know why these so-called sportspeople think it's hard to slag people off - in my mind, all it proves is that they are not good enough to succeed with talent and have to resort to playground antics to gain superiority. How grown up they are.....

  • 7.
  • At 03:35 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • MJH wrote:

Aggers,

A truly reasoned point of view here. And very accurate. The game is in danger of selling its soul and the amount of 'chat' and sledging on display at village level on a Saturday is a sad indictment of how the game is reaping what the big boys sow. I know of several players who have retired due to it.
I admire the likes of Steve Waugh and Ponting as batsmen, but in the case of the latter he displays the classic attributes of a bully. Remember the Gary Pratt incident. He would do well to remember Allan Border, who whilst no saint appeared to have more awareness of the spirit of cricket than the present incumbent. And don't even get me started on the 'religious' Matthew Hayden.

  • 8.
  • At 03:35 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Dan Stephens wrote:

I've never read a more rantish piece by Aggers, but I entirely agree. Do think he should take a few deep breaths after writing it though!!

  • 9.
  • At 03:36 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Neal wrote:

Absolutely right, Aggers, on all counts. The players are doing the game a great dis-service. And as you rightly say, it is not just an Australian problem; remember last summer's pathetic 'jelly-bean' episode?
And as for racist abuse being unacceptable, how did we ever get into the position where ANY abuse is acceptable? In many commentators eyes 'sledging' a player on a personal level about just about anything is OK, but the line is crossed when it is on a racial level. To me that is absolute rubbish; the line of acceptablility is reached way before abuse becomes racist. It is crossed as soon as any 'banter' goes from being good-natured mickey-taking to being nasty, intimidating or abusive.
The players have a responsibility to the game and each other to show more respect and restraint.

  • 10.
  • At 03:37 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • flip wrote:

top comments aggers, couldn't agree more.

  • 11.
  • At 03:37 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Joey B Lines wrote:

Well Said Aggers. We desperately need to nip this in the bud otherwise you'll have a football situation where managers and players surround referees for decisions they don't like. Throwing the ball at the stumps, constant appealing and dare I say it sledging can easily be stopped by fining players, but the spineless ICC must back their umpires 100%. This has to change for the good of the game, whatever happened to sportsmanship? You won't find any in the Australian side.

  • 12.
  • At 03:37 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Nick Payne wrote:

I couldn't agree more. The way I think of it, the Australians don't just play to win - they play to defeat the opposition.

It is this negativity that makes watching a hugely talented team play such a joyless experience.

It is the spirit of the game - and only that - which separates cricket from other sports.

In business terms, it is the USP. Without it, the game is doomed to follow the soulless footsteps of football.

I don't think it's any surprise that Harbhajan was the focus of this accusation, given that he's had Ponting's number so far in the series.

The whole thing stinks. And for Steve Bucknor - a man who's integrity I have never heard questioned before - to be made the scapegoat is tragic.

  • 13.
  • At 03:38 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Jat wrote:

The fault is not solely with the Players, the unpires have to take some responsibility.

It is the umpires job to control issues and players. But it is the unpires job to make correct decision, both were far from true during the last test.

  • 14.
  • At 03:38 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Rohit Gupta wrote:

Bad column by "Jonathan Agnew".

  • 15.
  • At 03:39 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Craig Thomas wrote:

Mr Agnew states that the Aussies can give it but not take it. He seems to be forgetting the major point here. If, and I repeat if Andrew Symonds was called a 'monkey', as he was by the Indian crowd last year in India, then I dont care if the Aussies are going for 48 wins in a row...the perpetrator must be made accountable if found guilty. It would be irresponsible and of detriment to the game if such incidents were not reported. Players and officials alike have a duty to stamp out rascism in sport. I dont care if its football, golf, rugby or tiddly winks if a player is racially abused then action must be taken. Mr Agnew seems to gloss over this point and as is typical looks instead to 'aussie bash'. I wonder how many English cricketers appeal vigourously or not walk when they know they hit the ball. Take off you English tinted glasses Mr Agnew and try to provide unbiased comment

  • 16.
  • At 03:39 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Alex wrote:

Aggers I would fully and wholeheartedly agree. I could list examples of good and bad sportsmanship but I won't all I will say is

The Umpires decision is final and paramount

The duty of ALL those involved in the game is to preserve and promote the spirit of Cricket.


One small aside that I would add is this - any player who is accused of allegations as serious as HS should be PROOVEN GUILTY BEYOND ALL REASONABLE DOUBT before he's punished. That way there can be no arguements as to the validity of a punnishment and would avoid the scenes in India where the public believe their player to have been a victim of a Kangaroo Court.

The only victims in this whole sorry fiasco are Cricket and its Umpires.

  • 17.
  • At 03:39 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • pete kirby wrote:

The Aussies can dish it out but they simply can not take it, after Englands ashes win the Aussies bacme even harder after what had been deemed as 'going soft' on their English 'friends' we saw Flintoff commiserating Brett Lee but you never see that from the Aussies. They have this hard persona now that everything goes for them to win a game, win at all costs attitude.

What happened to the what goes on, on the field, stays on the field?

Shame on Aussies for bring a great game into total and utter disrepute

  • 18.
  • At 03:40 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • John Heaps wrote:

Couldn’t agree more Jonathan - at this rate soon First Class cricketers will be able to consider new careers in the Football Premiership!

It's awful when you see a Batsman refusing to walk when the guy asleep in the Pavillion can see he is out!

As for LBW appealing - it's becoming rediculous.

The next generation is the key point as you suggest - I guess we will be watching out for Headbuts and the like when the Unpire is distracted!

  • 19.
  • At 03:40 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Cumbrianmuzz wrote:

Great article Aggers

Why blame the umpires when it is the constant hacking away by the players and the "spirit" in which they play the game which is to blame for what had happened recently. (Not just the Aussies but most of the nations)

  • 20.
  • At 03:40 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Liz wrote:

An excellent piece Aggers. I agree with all your sentiments.

I saw some of the match and couldn't believe my eyes when Ponting put his finger up when Michael Clarke took the rather dubious catch off Ganguly. Not only applying agreesive pressure to the oppsoition but also to the umpires
I would add to this the ridiculous over appealing that takes place with some teams.

I also agree that the Australians are not the only team who have members who go beyond the pale, Sreesanth has overstepped the mark on several occassions and not just with his no balls! I would add Anderson to this list who has a nasty habit of barging the oppostion. Lets hope the match referees will be firmer on bad behaviour in the future and lets see sledging reduced and get back to palaying great cricket.

  • 21.
  • At 03:41 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Jim wrote:

Sreesanth has not racially abused people so therefore shouldn't be considered in this debate. But I am currently loving this debacle, of course as I am on the outside looking in. But it seems that ten years of hyper-sledging, umpire pressuring, terrible antics and poor sporting conduct has finally caught up with the Aussies. Good on India for sticking up to the bullies, good on Harbajahn for sticking up to the bully Symonds (I am not condoning his behaviour IF he racially abused the guy). But there have been issues with Australia and India before, involving umpires.

Australia try and cheat, India stick it to 'um and suddenly we have a hell of a story.

I don't like cricket, I love it.

  • 22.
  • At 03:42 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Nick A wrote:

Excellent article as always Jonathan. The Australians have gone to far this time and deserve to be reprimanded. Singh is obviously in the wrong and should be banned. Symonds looked foolish and stupid in front of the media and the backlash he has receieved is more than justified.

Removing Bucknor is a serious oversight and sets a very dangerous precedent. Hair was removed in similarly dubious circumstances and cricket is in grave danger of becoming like football in its treatment of onfield officials.

Lets hope India bounce back in the third test and make good cricket the focus of this series again.

  • 23.
  • At 03:42 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • paddy wrote:

Good article Aggers! Like you said, this Australian team is one of the greats (in cricketing terms) but their behaviour in this test was nothing short of a disgrace. India are no angels either and what should have happened is that Ponting and Kumble should have got together and made sure their teams behaved.

When I was younger, I was in awe of the West Indian teams of the 80s, who played hard cricket on the pitch but were gracious off it. There is no doubt some of these Australians are world class but their 'win at all costs' attitude lets them, and cricket down

If Symonds was racially abused, he should come out and say so. As far as I am aware, it is only Ponting and other Australian players that have confirmed this whilst Symonds has been unusually quiet.

  • 24.
  • At 03:43 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Graham Brack wrote:

There may have been good reasons for reducing Steve Bucknor's workload before. In my view he has been increasingly erratic over the last couple of years, perhaps because he is tiring. But that is a very different matter from removing an umpire from a Test once his appointment is announced.
I think it would be a good idea if umpires had the right to insist that players who sledge are removed from close-fielding positions if they go beyond acceptable levels, in the same way as a bowler who runs down the pitch can be removed from the attack.

  • 25.
  • At 03:44 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Rodneyking wrote:

As usual Aggers - right on the button. The game must sort itself out or risk losing fans and the next generation of players. Hard but fair we were taught. Think the current crop have forgotten that.

  • 26.
  • At 03:44 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Richard Waggott wrote:

Top words Aggers, couldn't agree more. This kind of behaviour has been increasing in international cricket over recent years as everybody has tried to copy the Australian model of success. That it has spread widely was evidenced in the terrible spirit in which the England vs India tour last summer was conducted. It is unsurprising that finally this behaviour has reached a flashpoint and even less of a surprise that Australia are the chief protagonists. It is time for the media, the ICC and the players to take a stand and start ensuring that the traditions of the game are respected. Well done for starting that process Aggers.

  • 27.
  • At 03:45 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • sppadic wrote:

I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments expressed in this piece but could I point out that if as stated racial slur was used..there is no excuse but this is purely based on hearsay and where is the due process..I believe that you are innocent till proven guilty and not the other way around..

Also as for the spirit of the gentleman's game- it lost the gentleman tag a very long time ago and with the australians taking the game onto higher levels-their truly brilliant skills are matched hand in hand sadly by their arrogance..We all love to watch good cricket- bat vs ball..

I dont see the point of sledging but the again if Australia can get away with it..then why not make it fair for everyone to have a pop..the Aussies have to be able to take a dose of their own medicine and seems they cant handle it...Also no one has pointed out that this alleged incident happened when India was in the process of building a lead on Australia who were struggling to get back into the game at that point...coincidence it surely aint!

And finally I totally agree that the game cannot be held to ransom but surely the integrity of Ricky Ponting had to be questioned as of a few of his players..and also the standard of umpiring.surely the world cup final farce with Steve Bucknor being one of the umpires surely should have been investigated...if the premiership maintains refereee standards maybe the ICC need to improve or check the standards of umpiring because some of the decisions were am sorry to say absolutely shocking...ofcourse we can accept mistakes- we are all human - but not when such levels of incompetance. I have immense respect for Steve Bucknor who has beena great umpire but I believe his time is up and its really unfortunate that his name will be linked with this game for a long time..

Maybe this will finally bring the question of technology being used into the domain again...but thats debate for another day..
Atleast the tour is back on and I just that cricket makes the headlines from now on..but one things for sure..the rivalry between the two teams has just reached a whole new level..and lets hope it stays within healthy limits..

  • 28.
  • At 03:45 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Offbreak wrote:

Can't argue with a word of that.

Cricket will soon have gone the same way as football: conning referees, no respect for referees, win at all costs and blame everyone but yourself in defeat - we even give knighthoods to people who behave like this.

Perhaps on the day that Martin Corry announced his retirement from international rugby, professional footballers and cricketers should use him as the standard to attain when it to comes to respect for referees and taking defeat and yes, even injustice on the chin. Well done Martin - a true sportsman.

  • 29.
  • At 03:45 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Fast Bowler wrote:

Even as an England fan I was trully looking forward to this series. Unfortunately, I have seen too many bad umpiring decisions in recent test seies - The home series last summer and furthermore in S.L. and now this. I feel the Aussies put too much pressure on umpires and as a result we get this mess. Do you really think England would have appealled so strongly and got those same decisions, given the same circumstances? I doubt it. I am not convinced the current Oz team is as good as ever. For me the most honest and likeable member being Adam Gilchrist. Oz's shouldn't be allowed to bully their way into getting the umpiring decisions they want.

  • 30.
  • At 03:46 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Guru wrote:

Mr. Agnes,

For once I agree with your assessment in its entirety. You have made some good points in your article. However, I would like stress something here. If the playing teams have lost confidence in the umpire, then it may not be good for team or the umpire to be together in a match. The umpires may be perceived to be vindictive, or they could get extra careful not to offend and thus make mistakes. Either way it is not good for the sport.

Just like the players are dropped for poor performance, similar procedures must be adopted by the ICC for the umpires. I know many will not agree to this, but in my opinion, this is the right way to go. Strike when the iron is hot.

  • 31.
  • At 03:46 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Ian Harris wrote:

Hear hear. I don't think I could put it better.

For years the over competitiveness of Australian cricketers has been a slur on the good name of cricket and all that is has given the World via phrases such as "playing with a straight bat" and "it is just not cricket". They are overdue a considerable chastening and that must go to the top i.e. the Australian Cricket Board.

Equally there has been, over a number of years, bad blood between Australia & India that should have been resolved before now.

Many outsiders, myself included, see the Indian Cricket Board's threat to take their team home and call the tour off as simple blackmaill much like Pakistan and Darrell Hair.

The very sad truth is that money talks and much of it comes from the Indian sub continent and tv now.

  • 32.
  • At 03:46 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Clive Mallender wrote:

Well said Aggers.

I am a true fan of great cricket and I have to say that Ricky Ponting is so often sold short by people who, when talking about the modern day great batsmen, only mention Tendulkar and Lara. Ponting is quite simply a wonderful batsman.

However, he is a poor sportsman. You could see the attitude of the aussies from ball one of the Sydney test. Win at any cost, even if the cost is to cricket.

The umpiring at Sydney was terrible. Really terrible and I was simply amazed at the control Anil Kumble must have over his team and his own emotions. Ponting really ought to take a good look at the India captain, who should be a novice by comparison.

The aussie cricketers are first rate bullies, plain and simple. The abuse they give out to some cricketers is simply incredible and then they go off weaseling to the umpire when they get a bit back.

H. Singh would not have said his remark in a racist manner, and who knows what was said to him by the luckiest cricketer alive (symmonds), to have prompted such a response.

Lets remember that these same aussies were the players who questioned the state of mind of their Queen (and ours) when she gave an MBE to Paul Collingwood. How dare they feel that superior.

The funny thing about sport is that although the aussies won in Sydney, they lost far more...... repect from the cricketing world!

  • 33.
  • At 03:46 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • abdullah wrote:

Again the removal of bucknor means that the asian have a strong hold on ICC
who cannot make them unhappy
indian player demand were met
by the removal
harbhjan ban for three test and then BCCI threatened to cancel the tour
i the the test to be one of the best i have ever witnessed in some time
ok few decision went here and there
so what this is part and parcel of the game


so i think Indian board were very premature in their actions and ICC as puppet reacted to it

unhappy scenes for cricket

  • 34.
  • At 03:47 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • VFAF wrote:

Get Sreesanth in there for the next test he will sort out those rotten Aussie's once and for all!

  • 35.
  • At 03:47 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Bala wrote:

I agree umpires make mistakes like any other human but making mistake is one thing and asking the opposition captain before giving someone out is an entirely different thing.

You have written "How dare the game be held to ransom in this way". I think you will find it was a certain Mr. Hair who demanded half a million dollars from ICC to retire after that incident against Pakistan.

  • 36.
  • At 03:47 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Steve wrote:

Absolutely spot on, though it hardly pleases me to say it. The peculiar petulance that goes alongside this desire to win baffles me - though Ponting is its current chief exponent, I suspect the true inspiration is his predecessor in the captaincy.

What a shame this potentially great series has been ruined. As a seasoned Austrophile I was supporting them all the way, but the absurd running to the umpires along with what in my view was blatant cheating by Symonds and Ponting in the most recent match, I have been turned against them.

If this level of offensive ruthlessness is necessary to win at sport, why are the Australian cricket team not the only massively successful sporting outfit in the world? Do Brazil's football team or South Africa's rugby team behave so irritatingly? Of course not - presumably because they're aware on at least some level that a) it's just a game and b) that game is being played for the supporters' benefits - not their own.

  • 37.
  • At 03:47 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • softpenta wrote:

Agree to all the points but the removal of umpire Steve buckner. Legend of 120 test matches. I must say he was a good umpire but compare his performance in last 20 odd tests to the previous 100. The number of critical mistakes is huge. Sure, umpires are humans and make mistakes, but look at the consistency and number of them. Even Football umpires make mistakes but they are dealt quietly, behind the doors by FIFA. It's ICC job to look at umpire's performances and select them. If Steve Buckner does not want to retire, ICC should have taken the decision for him and we would not be facing this problem.

  • 38.
  • At 03:47 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Thomas Ingilby wrote:

Why did the match referee not bring a charge of unsporting behaviour and bringing the game into disrepute against Andrew Symmonds for not walking when he boasted that he was well aware that he had edged the ball and should therefore have been given out caught behind? He has set a disgraceful and very public example to all the youngsters following him. No surprise that the Indians were furious and very frustrated when he went on to score a large century and changed the course of the match.

  • 39.
  • At 03:47 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Arijit wrote:

Yes, agree to most of what Jonathan said, except the "umpires are human" rubbish. Yes, they are human indeed, and that is why, whenever possible they should take the help of the available technology. In a scenario where around ten decisions went wrong, and eight of them went against a particular team, which possibly turned the game on its head, the umpires can't be excused with this million-times-told-junk excuse of "umpires are human". If it's incompetence then these umpires should be disposed of - Mr. Bucknor seems to have passed his sell-by date. Although his history doesn't make it a mere coincidence.

  • 40.
  • At 03:48 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Raj wrote:

Could not agree more with Aggers !

I thought cricket was about skill, respect and honesty. If a player knows he is out he should have the 'balls' to walk. Waiting for the umpires decision is pathetic.

As for the management - most of them couldnt play cricket to save their lifes !

  • 41.
  • At 03:48 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Wooly_Warrior wrote:

Got to agree, Would of loved all the talk to of been about the game but the real drama has come after the game. Both sides have things to be embarrassed about. I think Ponting will go down as one of the greatest captains in the history of cricket but also the most arrogant and I think the BCCI putting pressure (direct or indirect it doesnt matter) on the ICC to change Bucknor is shocking. Also the ICC have to give themselves a good shake for the sake of the game. They set a presedent with Hair and all countires (or possibly counties in the domestic game) will moan when they dont get a decision and the umprie may be removed, placing far to much pressure on the umpries.

  • 42.
  • At 03:48 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Rakesh Patel wrote:

Good article Jonathan. I feel it is time that Australia are reprimanded for the poor spirit they have turn the game into. Claiming to take catches that are quite clearly is not the way the game should be going in.

Despite the umpires having a poor game, they are clearly not the reason for what has unfolded.

  • 43.
  • At 03:48 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Chris wrote:

What an interesting article I must say. I think i agree with what your saying Aggers. For a long time people have said that Australia, albeit a fantastic team with extremely talented players for which their system of introducing sport and a winning mentality to young children should be praised, do not play the game in a good spirit.
I remember during the 2005 Ashes when Ponting was moaning etc everyon was saying "They dont like it up em, the Aussies." They dish out a lot of gamesmanship and sledging and, on the pitch at least, look at their opponents with disdain. But they wont stand for it being dealt back.

Moving on to the umpiring issue. The ICC HAS to look after their umpires otherwise who will want to become an umpire in the future? The whole Darrell Hair issue seems to be opening a can of worms and I dont think it right to "drop" the most experienced umpire due to protest over 1 bad match. Where will this end? When all the experienced umpires are banned? When we have a bunch of "Freshers" umpiring? or will it turn into football where players have no respect for their referees?

The ICC need to pull their finger out and show some loyalty and intelligence.

  • 44.
  • At 03:48 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Rich wrote:

"as self defence, and what does that say of these hard men then they go and report it to the umpire. They can take it but they can't give it"

I have been following the events of the past few days pretty closly and have been intrested by what people have to say however this comment really bugs me, there is a big differace between sledging, harsh sledging and out right racism, which if he did make these "monkey comments" is exactly that. I would prefer to see cricket with only friendly sledging in the middle however at the moment i don't think this is possible at the level in which these two great teams are playing at. Lets just get the series back on track and not dwell on these events and salvege something from a potentially great series.

  • 45.
  • At 03:48 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Ryan wrote:

When Gilchrist walked in a World Cup semi-final the merits of walking or letting the umpire decide were vigorously debated. It seemed to come down to a personal decision by players with there being no right or wrong. Symonds had no obligation to walk. When later questioned about it, would you have preferred him to have openly lied and said he didn't edge it, continuing a ridiculous masquerade? He was just being honest.

I wonder if India had won or drawn the game if we would be hearing so much about this?

  • 46.
  • At 03:49 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Niren wrote:

Aggers had got it horribly wrong this time. Steve Bucknor has demonstrated his incompetence on more than one occasion in the past and is well past his prime. He is 61 and while some men do retain excellent health even in their 90s, Bucknor has clearly long lost control of his faculties. To accept such sheer incompetence by disguising it with "human element" is nonsense. Bucknor has to go. Period. The bloke gets $120,000 per year for standing in 4 tests and 16 ODIs and cant concentrate for even such few days in a year.
And while we are at it, why not discuss Mr Mark Benson as well? If he cant spot Brett Lee's noball in front of his eyes, how do you expect him to spot nicks and edges and misses? And then he goes and asks the fielder if he thinks he caught the ball correctly -pfaw! What nonsense is this? Does he not know the basic rule of umpiring is to ask the Square leg umpire? Benson must also be pulled up for his goof-ups.

  • 47.
  • At 03:49 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • colin wrote:

Agreed, Jonathan, but the problems are endemic everywhere, and that includes within the England team. Remember Pietersen not walking (more than once)? And Vaughan when he was blatently out in Australia some years ago? The media praised him then for waiting for the umpire's decision when the whole world knew he'd been dismissed.

The problems just cannot be addresed if we restrict our criticism to Austalia and India. I would exempt Gilchrist (whom my wife always cites as someone who "walks"). He doesn't throw jellybeans at the opposition either, does he, if it's the spirit of the game we're talking about, so please let's address this subject without any nationalistic bias, for I too am a big fan of Pietersen.

  • 48.
  • At 03:50 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Bala Superamaniam wrote:

Australian players on the whole have been the culprits for decades with their racial abuse of players from the Asian sub continent and the West Indies .No less a person than Sir Garfield Sobers, who lived and played in Australia, has said so in his autobiography. They start their sledging when the opposition is doing well. In the latest incident Harbhajan Singh was batting extremely well with Sachin Tendulkar when the incident of the alleged monkey taunt against Andrew Symonds took place. Was Harbhajan provoled by the Australian players?The answer is a definite "yes". Aussies may have stopped racial taunts with Symonds in their team but still carry on with other types of sledging to undermine the opposition players. This is the root cause of the present trouble.Bad umpiring and a poor decision by the match referee hasn't helped the situation.

  • 49.
  • At 03:50 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • David Mather wrote:

Good comments, all.

"Goodness knows where it will end..."

Just watch a football match if you really want to know, or a rugby match for that matter. Footballers are expected to break the rules if they can do so without the referee seeing. Failure to do so is considered to be "letting the side down" or naivete.

  • 50.
  • At 03:50 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Adnan wrote:

I also agree with Jonathans article. I think the Australian team are a great team and we should not take away from them their achievements. They have some wonderful and entertaining players. We have ignored the brillant knocks from Tendulker, Laxman, Hayden, Symonds and Hussey and the bowling spells from Lee and Kumble in the last test match.

I agree that the game is not being respected by some of the players. The umpires will always make mistakes but if we start sacking them for such mistakes who will be left to umpire? Surely cricket is not a sport for bullies but for gentlemen. Perhaps the time has come to have more technology involved and have more scrutiny on the players. A system where teams can appeal 2 or 3 decisions to the third umpire sounds like a good start???

  • 51.
  • At 03:50 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • that_little_urn wrote:

Well said Johnathan, an insightfully frank yet honest appraisal of what is a severely worrying episode in the game we all love. One almost senses that Harbhajan's alleged remark was an indignant riposte to the 'mental disintegration' that Australia callously uses to get under the skin of opponents.

Ponting is quite within his rights to report something he at first-hand believes to be racist, but he should not be surprised by the Australian public's reaction and judgement of him. Australians are extremely perceptive and he has never been taken too as strongly as many of the antipodean greats, because of his conduct on and off the pitch and distinct character flaws.

The Indian side is not blameless in this fiasco and its superiors at the BCCI should be reprimanded for they way they have effectively held the ICC to ransom by blackmailing it into 'dropping' Steve Bucknor.

But for me, fault lies primarily with Australia, and their captain Ricky Ponting. The sooner he realises he has been overtly arrogant, hypocrictical and loses the rhetoric that is souring the purity of this wonderful sport, the better.

  • 52.
  • At 03:50 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • VFAF wrote:

Get Sreesanth in there for the next test he will sort out those rotten Aussie's once and for all!

  • 53.
  • At 03:50 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Timothy Chase wrote:

While I agree that the Australians are guilty of 'hard' and single-minded cricket the problem in any argument against them is that in this Test the fault cannot be laid at their door. Although it may have been etiquette in the past, the idea of the batsman walking is not a rule. The rule is that the umpire should give him out. Which he didn't. Similarly, Ponting acted within the rules when reporting Harhajan Singh to the umpires and then his team manager. Harhajan acted against the rules by using a racist slur. Unfortunately, both me and you Aggers are from a country where concepts of etiquette and fair play are used to disguise the real reasons why teams like Australia tend to win. The only time in my living memory when England, for example, competed with the Aussies was when our strike bowler deliberately bowled bodyline on the first morning at Lords in 2005. There was no criticism then!

  • 54.
  • At 03:51 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Vikas wrote:


Absolutely rt..Jonathon
has pointed out the real 'culprits'
brash and arrogant players..who
want to take the game hostage
and win it at all costs.

If Symonds had walked..and played
fair..if Ponting and his teamates(
Gilly,Clarke) had not claimed
catches which looked too far off
for any reasonable appeal,
these unfortunate events may never
had occured.

Umpires were put under too much
pressure, and committed errors..
as they were intimidated into submission by Ricky "Punter"
ponting and his cronies.


  • 55.
  • At 03:51 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Mal Rallim wrote:

Jonathan Agnew is quite correct. The Australian cricketers, past and present, have always been allowed to get away with cheating when playing the game. Having said that teams from the sub-continent know how to use 'dodgy' tricks themselves.The decision to remove Steve Bucknor is a disgrace. Yes he may have made a couple of mistakes but he wasn't helped by the actions and antics of the players. Once again the authorities have bowed the knee to a disgruntled team from the sub-continent.

  • 56.
  • At 03:51 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Tim Hodgson wrote:

"Ricky Ponting’s men have trampled all over the spirit of cricket by offering the lame excuse that they are "hard". In their world, deliberately conning the umpire is part and parcel of the game: “It’s his decision," they offer as a cop-out."

Please could you point me in the direction of a test team that hasn't played in this way over the last 10 years? Ponting's team behave no differently than any of the others, they are however more successful because they're better cricketers.

I've yet to see the Aussies have officials removed because they don't like decisions, which in my eyes, is a far more alarming indication of the current state of the game and one we should be far more worried about. The Indians have not only refused to accept the umpires decision, they have also refused to accept the decision of a match referee and his QC, threatening to cancel the entire tour - that is where the disgust in this matter should be directed.

  • 57.
  • At 03:51 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Carl Torrington wrote:

I'm shocked at the decision of the ICC to remove Mr Bucknor from the test match between India and the Aussies.

It has shown that cricket has taken a different dimension lately.Umpires will continue to make mistakes and if the rest of playing nations take the same stance what is going to happen with the game of cricket in the future.It is only God's guess.

  • 58.
  • At 03:52 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Nick B wrote:

What a fantastic article, my only beef with Jonathan is that this needed saying in these terms a long time ago.
Shane Warne got away with unforgiveable cheating (or should I say 'mental disintegration' of umpires)for years, however great a bowler he was. Ponting, Hayden et al are a disgrace. Even your average Aussie appears to think so.

  • 59.
  • At 03:52 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Andy wrote:

Completely agree Aggers. By removing Steve Bucknor from the final test the ICC has not only given the authority of the umpires a solid kick in the teeth, but also left itself wide open to future manipulation from teams that aren't having things all their own way.

As captain of the team, and therefore - one would hope - some sense of responsibility for the sporting behaviour of his team, Ricky Ponting has been a disgrace, which is a real shame for such a great player. Of course he is not alone in this fiasco, players on both sides have let themselves and their sport down, but as captain he has a responsibility for the whole team and should face the consequences when there are problems. In my view he should be replaced as captain immediately.

  • 60.
  • At 03:52 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • annos wrote:

Umpires will always make mistakes - yep but how much can you tolerate? there were about 15 bad decisions in this match alone for both sides with india been victim for majority of them.

cricket is played between 2 sides and umpires are there to be judge not to change the course of the match.

the less said about mike proctor decision the better isn't he the guy who said nz, sa and aus should be given leeway since they are 'naturally aggressive'!

  • 61.
  • At 03:52 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • softpenta wrote:

I just don't understand. How can "monkey" be racist ? Even teachers and parents have a habbit of calling the young ones "cheeky monkey". How come "monkey be abusive and not "bastard". Because aussies think so ???????

  • 62.
  • At 03:52 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Mike wrote:

I agree with Aggers that the example being set is appalling. My nine year old plays in a cricket league and I am constantly shocked by the behaviour of some of the children (and parents) who you can see are mimicking their 'heroes'. One parent during one game bluntly told me that 'All's fair in love and war and this is war!". I had to point out that it wasn't, it was a cricket match between nine year olds! I don't mind healthy competition but at the moment it feels as though the spirit of cricket is in danger of being damaged beyond repair and the initial damage is being caused at the top!

  • 63.
  • At 03:52 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Richard wrote:

A thought provoking article. I thoroughly agree with Aggers. I don't mind the Aussies playing hard but they have to accept the rough with the smooth, at the moment they don't and they don't seem to understand other teams coming hard at them (see Ponting’s childish outburst at the use of sub fielders in the '05 ashes/Hayden's squaring up to S. Jones in the preceding one dayers).

Aside from the Aussie issue, it is about time the ICC grew a spine, they consistently shirk the big decisions, they are, as Aggers rightly points out, a slave to the big Asian tv/sponsorship money, this is dangerously undermining the game, surely the powers that be need deposing.

I also believe India are behaving in an outrageous manor, it is seems they are trying to exhibit their influence on world cricket for the world to see. Im sure if England behaved in the same way, everybody else would simply laugh at us.

  • 64.
  • At 03:52 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Lee Collis wrote:

Totally agree Aggers!! Can you imagine the furore that would be caused if FIFA dropped the worlds best refferee (e.g. P-L Colina) before the world cup final, just becasuse Brazil don't like him. Basically it wouldn't happen.

I do think though that this issue should never have got any further than a reporting to the ICC though. No one can make a guilty judgement with 'one word against another' and zero evidence!!! It shoud have been dismissed with a severe warning to ALL teams about future conduct.

However, the ICC have been incredibly weak in this case. I agree that it would be damaging for the tour to be suspended (as if that would ever happen when Indias board are obssessed woth cash like most), but how can the ICC not support thier officials??

Symonds and the rest of the Aussies can't complain about the alledged 'words said' as THEY created the situation themselves. At times they are brilliant and exceptional, but how can they let themselves down so much? Ponting and Symonds have an arrogance that goes way too far.

It's time for the ICC to stand up and put a stop to the threats we've seen from India & Pakistan, and surely others in the future. Teams with issues with officials need to follow due process. If teams want to pull out of a tour to make a stand against umpires and match referees, let them, and let them take the financial hurt!!!

LC


  • 65.
  • At 03:52 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Ben wrote:

Sadly Jonathan has got it right on the spot. I enjoy cricket because traditionaly it has been such a gentleman's sport with standards much higher than say football. However if this mess is not sorted out the game of cricket could well go the way of so many other major sports.

  • 66.
  • At 03:53 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • pazza wrote:

Good article Aggers! Like you said, this Australian team is one of the greats (in cricketing terms) but their behaviour in this test was nothing short of a disgrace. India are no angels either and what should have happened is that Ponting and Kumble should have got together and made sure their teams behaved.

When I was younger, I was in awe of the West Indian teams of the 80s, who played hard cricket on the pitch but were gracious off it. There is no doubt some of these Australians are world class but their 'win at all costs' attitude lets them, and cricket down

If Symonds was racially abused, he should come out and say so. As far as I am aware, it is only Ponting and other Australian players that have confirmed this whilst Symonds has been unusually quiet.

  • 67.
  • At 03:53 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Stephen Mitchell wrote:

Although Australia play the game 'hard' meaning that they try to upset the opposition and don't walk when they're out. They don't complain when they get a few bad decisions - for example the 2005 Ashes series.

Australia got a few clangers at crucial times but they didn't then demand that the umpires were not used for the next game.

There are always bad decisions, its only when someone makes the most of like Symonds did that people perceive an injustice.

  • 68.
  • At 03:53 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Gerry Moore wrote:

While Jonathan is right to point the finger at the players, there is far more to it than that; the ICC has consistently, over the last few years refused to tackle serious issues like this (Zimbabwe to name just one other). When a governing body repeatedly shows itself to be toothless and gutless it is inevitable (albeit regrettable) that the individual boards will take advantage. The changes required to make cricket once again a by-word for sportsmanship and fair play have to be initiated from the top.

  • 69.
  • At 03:54 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Marc wrote:

Absolutely spot-on and unfortunately this behaviour is then replicated at the grass roots / club level of the game.

Having played cricket for the last 25 years I have to say that in the last 2 seasons I have seen some of the worst behaviour in my club career and a win at all cost attitude that is beyond belief.

Bucknor's removal is a big cause for concern and Dicky Bird called for the umpires to take a stronger line and get the captains together to sort out this nonsense.

However, after what happened to Hair then I can quite why umpires are shying away from this - otherwise it could be the end of their careers.

How about if Billy Bowden and the other umpires supported Bucknor and refused to take his place as a show of solidarity? That would cause the ICC a few issues and face up to their responsibilities.

  • 70.
  • At 03:54 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Ankh wrote:

Bucknor, was held in high regard, as one of the best umpires in my opinion until a few years ago.
But if you have seen his decisions over the past couple of years, they show the decline in the standard. Sure, it took one controversial test for people to get him down from his high pedestal, but the blame for that surely shouldn't lie with the Indian management.
Bucknor may be well past his expiry date and like most cricketers, playing well past their expiry is just a painful experience for everyone involved. This test should've been remembered for VVS/Sachin/Hayden's wonderful batting and Lee/RP/Kumble's bowling, however all that remains is the memory of Msrs Bucknor and Benson and the missed opportunities.

  • 71.
  • At 03:54 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Drewboy wrote:

The amount of support that Test match umpires are getting from cricket's governing bodies at present is at the very least disappointing.

In the latest test between India and Australia, it appears that India have had the major share of bad luck/decisions. However, for the good of the game major cricketing nations should not be allowed to pressurise governing bodies into acting against umpires. Umpires that make difficult decisions in a fraction of a second (yes it is easy to huff and puff after 12 TV replays from every angle imaginable!)

Umpires need support - especially when difficult and sometimes controversial decisions have been made (i.e. Darrly Hair). If umpires genuinely have the support of the sport's governing bodies then they may even be able to stand up to such gamesmanship and pressures as outlined by Jonathan Agnew safe in the knowledge that there actions will be backed.

  • 72.
  • At 03:55 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Steve Ferguson wrote:

I have to admit to being staggered by the response this recent test in Sydney has produced. From reading the comments of not only this blog, but many others in different countries, you would forgiven for thinking hostilities had been declared between both countries.

I have been an avid follower of cricket for over 35 years and have always thought that society reflected itself in cricket rather than the other way round.

Is it not a symptom of modern society that we are encouraged to compete and win at all costs? Are we not told from a young age that we must strive to be the best, to push yourself harder than the next person if you want to succeed? If this is so, why should cricket, and indeed cricketers, be any different.

For so long the Australian cricket team has been admired for these qualities yet now they are being admonished.

Oversteppiing the boundries of fairness? This can be measured by ones own standards. Hands up who of you has never stepped over the line.

Burning effigies, threats to cancell tours, counter claims, bullying governing bodies into demoting officials.... Sounds like a normal day in the Commons to me.

Grow up boys

  • 73.
  • At 03:55 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • David Mather wrote:

Dear Craig Thomas, what is it about "That, of course, does not offer any defence for racism. If Harbhajan Singh did racially abuse Symonds, he must be punished for it." that isn't clear?

Great comments Aggers. It totally agree with you. The worrying think is that England have tried copying this aggressive style recently (since Duncan Fletcher left?)with the "Jellygate".
Its even more ambarassing when England do it as they cant back it up with the quality of play that the Aussies do. Certainly i would not want to be an umpire nowadays with what appears to be little backup form the governing body who bows to every team that sulks. A dire state of affairs where player power is starting to harm the game in the same way it has in football.

  • 75.
  • At 03:55 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • MG wrote:

First of all, i'd like to make it clear that the achievments of what is, in my view the finest Cricket team I have ever witnessed, should not be overshadowed by this whole episode. However, when even the normally bullish Aussie media are questioning the sportsmanship of Australia's on field sledging antics, you realise that it has gone too far and it is time that the authorities try to stamp it out.
Furthermore, an insult is an insult, whether it is a racial slur or not. In my view, the over the top verbals given to the Indian team are just as disgusting as what Harbhajan is alleged to have said to Symonds. Players of all nations need to realise that this is professional sport, not the playground.

  • 76.
  • At 03:55 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Sridhar Kolinjavadi wrote:

John, knows what he is talking about, he is angry at what happen, though I must say his article above is all over the place and is lacking coherence.

He jumped from think skinned aussies, to justifying the ban on Singh, to Bucknors removal

  • 77.
  • At 03:56 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Stan wrote:

"How dare the game be held to ransom in this way." What does that mean? How dare the game [hold itself to ransom]??

There's something amiss with your syntax here, Mr Agnew. You've got a passive voice with an implied subject that is the same as the object!! Who are you charging with doing the holding? And who is doing the editing at the Beeb these days?

  • 78.
  • At 03:56 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Frank wrote:

I'm a West Indian so if Harbajan did racially Symonds it especially resonate with me. However, what is clear is that Australia are truly pathetic to behave so abominably and then 'run' to the ump, when their feelings are hurt. I remember also the Glen Mcgrath/Sarwan incident in Antigua. It seems that there is a sledging rule book that only the Aussies have a copy of!

  • 79.
  • At 03:56 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • stuart mcintosh wrote:

As you have said the Darryl Hair situation has now opened the flood gates for all countries to continue whining about the umpires to get them changed for a more "sympathetic" umpire? At the end of the day we are all human and make mistakes. At the end of each test the umpires performances are logged and there performance over a period of time should be used to determine which games they can officiate in. It should not be done over a beer or glass of wine straight after one game.

  • 80.
  • At 03:56 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Norcross Bob wrote:

Spot on as usual Aggers. Only the players will change this present situation. Once they begin to walk when they have edged the ball then integrity will return to them and the game. Do not complain about umpires making mistakes when you are happy to cheat. Symonds hit it and knew he hit it, he accepted that the umpire was mistaken. Why then when players are willing to accept that do they not accept it when umpires make mistakes and give them out. They cannot have it all ways. Steve Bucknor will have made more than 5,000 decisions (5 days 45 overs a day from his end therefore 1350 front foot decisions, the same number of where did the ball pitch decisions and the same did he hit it, was it missing or going over decisons) in that match and got 2 wrong, yet he is incompetent. A batsman faces 200 balls scoring a hundred and makes one mistake, the one that gets him out, yet he is a hero. And once again the ICC show themselves the moral guardians of the game, bowing to pressure from the sub continent and afraid of the loss of television revenue. Shocking but not unexpected.

  • 81.
  • At 03:56 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Ben wrote:

When did 'not walking' become bragging about surviving through a bad decision ? Symmonds should be publically reprimanded for that whatever the racism charge (and that should be taken seriously as well).

  • 82.
  • At 03:56 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • V wrote:

I agree with most of Jonathan's comments, however I must say that I find the continual defence of the unpires disappointing. Some of the deicisions were absolutely SHOCKING! For example, the Dravid and Ganguly dismisalls on the final day, not to mention the Hussey and Symmonds deicision. I mean how can Mark Benson give Ganguly out without referring it to the 3rd umpire. The ball DID NOT carry. These combined with the fact that deicisions went for Australia (Ponting and Symmonds on day 1 and Hussey in the 2nd innings) there was absolutely no chance of a fair result. Cricket is a sport, where was the sportsmanship.
If umpires cannot handle the pressure then they should be dropped. SIMPLE.
If players can't handle the pressure then they get dropped so why not umpires to?
Fair enough a bad deicision here and there is bound to occur, but so many errors in such a short space of time. DISGRACEFUL.
Australia are a great cricket side but they are setting a very bad example to cricket fans. Also if Harbhajan has said what he did, then there is no question he should be banned, but after seeing their performance in the 2nd test would you take their word for it?
I personally would not.

  • 83.
  • At 03:56 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • David Sawh wrote:

If the Australians did not have a win at all cost attitude which includes constantly abusing and belittling their opponents this situation would not have arisen. Yest the aussies have great players which makes it all the more surprising that they have to intimidate the umpires and abuse their opponents so. They are constantly saying awful things about shagging an opponents wife and that type of thing then when you respond they report you to the match referee. Why can't they just use their skills!!!

  • 84.
  • At 03:56 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • mark wrote:

Well said Jonathan

  • 85.
  • At 03:57 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Mike wrote:

I also agree with everything Jonathan has said about the present Australian cricket team. It goes without saying they are incredibly talented and because of this I feel saddened that they resort to the vicious goading tactics that are clearly part of their psyche. It must be stamped out for the future of the game because if not I can see the Indians and other cricketing teams boycotting Australia altogether. Now that would be a tragedy.

  • 86.
  • At 03:57 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Andrew wrote:

Mr Agnew does not go far enough. The fault does lie with the players, but more can be done by the officials. Symonds could be banned for cheating. The Australian team could be reprimanded for aggressive behaviour with the umpire. The match referee could make clear that any offensive remark will be severely dealt with. Why just latch onto politically-correct issues of race? What about if a player suggests carnal relations with one's mother. Not racist, but deeply personally offensive and just as worthy of a ban. There are confused double standards at play here, and the governing bodies need to think about what their stance is going to be in the future. A clear signal should be given that winning only counts when it is done through being better. Winning through cheating is worthless.

  • 87.
  • At 03:57 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Partha wrote:

Agnew, I don't understand why sacking Bucknor is a short sighted approach?
Over the last few years he is consistently very poor with so many bad decisions.
If a refree makes a mistake in a premiership game then he is demoted the next week to a championship game, so why not umpires in Cricket have the same accountability.

Because of his poor umpiring, now an interesting series on card was reduced to a mere boring series. If India has won that game, they would have gone to the perth game with so much confidence and the upset was a real possibility. Now only 4-0 is a possibility.

Umpires must be accountable and the decision to sack is was a step in the right direction.

  • 88.
  • At 03:57 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Eric wrote:

I agree that no single cricket board should have the power to influence the ICC unilaterally. However, I believe some fault lies with the quality of Umpiring.

Like players , clearly umpires have their sell-by dates. On the evidence of the the Sydney test, aging umpires on a small "elite" panel making inexcusable mistakes consistently will shake the confidence of any cricket player or board.

The ICC or some combination of cricket boards should implement either better technological support for umpires, a referral system, and/or a rotation system where umpires are "dropped" following categorically poor performances.

  • 89.
  • At 03:58 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Jim Gallagher wrote:

Good points well made Aggers.

I was really looking forward to this series, but now cannot wait for it to end and fear that the Indians think the same.

We cannot blame the umpires for making genuine mistakes. As long as players claim catches they know not to be true, mouth obscenities when lbw decisions are turned down (viz Ponting vs Dravid in 2nd innings), it is inevitable that mistakes will be made

This is all going to end in the loss of the spirit of cricket, and constant referals to replays.

Ashes 2009 should set the standard. No sledging and batsman told by both captains to walk. Otherwise the game we have today will be lost

  • 90.
  • At 03:58 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Rod Stark wrote:

I very much agree with Jonathan.

What is so disappointing is that we have a situation in current world cricket where one team (Australia) is so far above all the others in ability that they could set an example of fair play and good sportsmanship while still staying well ahead of the competition. As it is, their "aggressive" attitude becomes the standard that lesser teams will see as an integral part of their success and try to copy. What a lost opportunity to reverse the unsavory practices that have crept into the name under the guise of "professionalism"!

  • 91.
  • At 03:58 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • James wrote:

A truly wonderful explanation for anyone who doesn't know what's been going on. Congratulations to Jonathan Agnew. However I would go further and comment that the apparent lack of leadership by the ICC on numerous issues in recent years, over possibly 7 or 8 years lies at the heart of this. Many members have been able to follow self interest without having the welfare of the game at heart meant that the Darryl Hare affair was a volcano waiting for it's moment to explode.
The lack of leadership over the issue of Zimbabwe made a mockery of the World Cup in South Africa. Whilst fault for the poor management and planning of the last World Cup has to fall at the feet of the ICC. True, the players must shoulder the blame, but where is the foresight that guardians of the game should be expected to have

  • 92.
  • At 03:58 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • kash wrote:

You do make some excellent points in this article. Players cannot continue with this current atmosphere of intimdation and this doesnt include just the australians (sreesanth is a good example). I believe this has arisen as one team has used these tactics to gain an advantage so other teams feel compelled to do so to go an even footing (which is understandable)
However I have to disagree with some of the points you made here.
What you are proposing is to make umpires unqestioned in their decisions. This will work for the good of the game in the vast majority of cases. However as you so rightly pointed out umpires do make mistakes. If they are allowed to get away with such mistakes how can they counted on not to let their standards drop?
Also please explain to me how it is in the spirit of the game when the umpires took the word of one team over an other team (whose case was pitched by 2 arguably the greatest batsmen who has ever lived and by a captain bowler who is respected for his honesty and integrity all over the cricketing world)

  • 93.
  • At 03:58 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Andrew wrote:

I agree with much of what Jonathan has said in his Blog. I am deeply concerned about the way the ICC seem to be influenced by the more powerful cricket boards.

Daryl Hair's removal from the international umpires list was an appauling decision leaving the way forward for India effectively to remove Steve Bucknor.

I truely hope that the ICC's "Leadership" finally show some backbone and re-instate Bucknor before their authority is completely undermined and cricket suffers.

  • 94.
  • At 03:58 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Jamie Brown wrote:

Totally and utterly agree with everything said. When I have argued this case, a common response has been 'It's not just the Australians that do it', often referring me back to the Simon Jones / Matthew Hayden incident and 'Jellybeangate' at the Oval last summer. Yes, this is true, but the Australians are by far the worse offenders. Ricky Ponting is a fantastic player, one of the best I have seen in my lifetime, but for me he will never be a true great because of the way he and his Australian team have totally ignored and trampled all over the spirit of cricket.

With the regards to the treatment of Steve Bucknor - this is ridiculous. The more that this happens, the more that cricket will become like football - in the sense that the clubs (or board in this case) have far more power than they should. (I am not biased here either - I am just as passionate about football as I am about cricket). This is also the case with the players, Ricky Ponting and his team have put pressure on the umpires, and unfortunately it seemed to work.

This is a very bad time for cricket.

  • 95.
  • At 03:59 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Anand Desai wrote:

Its just so disappointing to know that these all so called world class players talk about integrity and they themselves flounder on the same issue.

The point is australians play hard, no doubt about it but they dont play it fair.

The second test match has shown how the once called gentlemen's game has degraded to such a low level. Shame on the players and the administrators of the game who have brought this game into disrepute.

The other point i would like to raise is if the technology is available why not use it. many would argue that it would take the importance of umpires out of the game but i dont believe so. there is nothing wrong in refering to a TV replay if an umpire is not sure about the decision he is supposed to make. I think the umpires themselves should take up this issue and force ICC to bring in the TV replay technology.

  • 96.
  • At 03:59 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Tom wrote:

I agree with Jonathan, the players are at fault. Bottom line - if India had won the Test, they're players and fans would not have reacted so violently to the poor umpiring decisions throughout the match. There has always been sledging and occasional bad umpiring in Test cricket, they should swallow the pill and get on with the series. As for the Australians, I fear that Ricky Ponting has become too precious about his team and its achievements throughout the last few years.

  • 97.
  • At 03:59 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Jon Cooper wrote:

Re: Craig Thomas
I don't think Jonathan in being biased, I think he is speaking the truth and he would and has been just as critical of England. Why can't the Aussies take criticism in any shape or form?

  • 98.
  • At 04:00 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Chris Jarrett wrote:

Congratulations Mr Agnew for having the courage to say what the rest of the world is thinking, all bar Mr Thomas above by the sounds of it who is no doubt an Australian. I would not defend Singh, if indeed he did abuse the Englisman Andrew Symonds, but that the manner and spirit that the Australian cricket team now play their cricket can be seen throughout the world, from the current crop of international test players, to the young lads on the village green, this is unnaceptable in the extreme. We cannot let the sacred game of cricket go the same way as other mainstream sports I could mention where it is usual and seemingly acceptable to question the umpires decisions at every juncture. I say come down on Singh if it can be proved that he abused Symonds, if not, get back on the park and put your dummies back in your prams.

  • 99.
  • At 04:00 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Mohammed Mulla wrote:

Craig Thomas misses the point completely.

"Mr Agnew seems to gloss over this point and as is typical looks instead to 'aussie bash'. I wonder how many English cricketers appeal vigourously or not walk when they know they hit the ball.".

The issue was Symonds went onto to gloat to the media that he was out but did not walk. THAT is the difference.

  • 100.
  • At 04:00 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Damo wrote:

I'm sorry Craig, but this was hardly aussie bashing! Agnew also points out that other teams play beyond the spirit of cricket, and also said himself if Harbhajan did racially abuse Symonds, he should be punished! Hardly a biased comment.

  • 101.
  • At 04:01 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Pricky Ponting wrote:

None of the articles that I have read on this really gets to the heart of the matter here. The problem is that the people who dole out punishments and rulings on players are predominently of European origin. Any decision doled out or blessed by such a beauracracy will always be viewed with suspicion - sometimes rightly and sometimes wrongly- by the south asian nations. It is no surprise that that these feeling will persist given the long clonial histories that the south asian nations have. So a south asian team that hijacks the game is not culpable, but the clonial beauracrcy must change.

  • 102.
  • At 04:01 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • ricky chena wrote:

While Agnew as has been the wont sides with the Ump, belittling the Indian team, it is noteworthy point he should look into that mistakes happen, once or twice, but if they continue against one team persistantly then it has a grey shade associated to it.
Bucknor obviously has crossed the line. His refusal to call the 3rd ump at the contentious stumping, smacks of contrmpt for Indian team and indeed arrogance.
The thinking in his head seems to be if he continues pandering to teams like AUS nobody can touch him and he could continue his career.
There is more than meets the eye and Mr. Agnew you need to open yours too.
You need to call spade a SPADE!!

  • 103.
  • At 04:01 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • S Patel wrote:

There's no evidence whether Harbhajan Singh abused Symonds. Basically Proctor has told the Indians that regardless of anything, he would always take the word of an Aussie over an Indian. Harbhajan does not have the most integrity as a cricketer, but neither do the Aussies. However Tendulkar does. I think Harbhajan was really getting under the Aussies skin with comments in the media especially about Ricky Ponting, so it was convenient to lay blame on him. Stump mic would surely have picked something up if he had said something, so to the person below who has said he has racially abused Symonds, choose your words more carefully. Nothing was proved, Proctor simply stated he felt the Aussies were more trustworthy, and naturally there were more of them on the field at the time, so India didnt have a chance of defending themselves. Will be interesting to see how Hogg defends himself, as their whole team will rally around him as well. Also I think Ponting needs to get off his high horse. During the 2005 Ashes he criticised Vaughan for not accepting his proposal on dubious catches, and Vaughan quit rightly told him where to go. India and Kumble were perhaps a bit naive, but even so, if you make such proposals then you ought to stick to them. You can't suddenly decide to abandon it when it when you need 7 wickets in a session to win a test match and it suits you! He also still denies that his side blatently cheated. Ponting is a great batsman, but he is a hypocrite and needs to learn a thing or two about respect. He's not worthy of tying Steve Waughs shoelace. Gilchrist also, someone who I thought was honest due to his walking policy showed his true colours. He was appealing for catches which had cannoned into the ground, as well as those that had clearly missed the match. If England lost the Ashes in such fashion there would also have been outcry, maybe more due to the magnitude.

  • 104.
  • At 04:01 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Caroline wrote:

Mr Thomas also seems to be missing the point - or rather - the paragraph below the "They can give it, but can’t take it" comment.

He said, "That, of course, does not offer any defence for racism. If Harbhajan Singh did racially abuse Symonds, he must be punished for it".

He's not 'glossing over' the racism issue at all. The article's not about the racism, but about player behaviour (and in that, he has reason to 'aussie bash')and that the decision to remove Bucknor was a wrong one - see the title.

It's a blog. It's not supposed to be unbiased.

  • 105.
  • At 04:01 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Hitendra wrote:

The umpires must use technology and referrals when it is available to them. Umpires need to take more control on the ground and talk to the captains if there is excessive or inappropriate appealing and the third umpire should be able to initiate this action. Captains, vcs and senior team administrators should be given crash courses in cultural understanding and sensitivities on the sports ground when visiting/playing other countries.

  • 106.
  • At 04:01 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Chadders wrote:

I think the Test Captains have to form a group that can stand up to their national associations, and get rid of unseemly behaviour like slegding through gentlemen's agreements. In the first instance, at least.

I am surprised the ICC is inviting another lawsuit from Bucknor if he never umpires another India match. You'd think they wouldn't want to burn themselves _yet again_ in the courts.

  • 107.
  • At 04:02 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Richard Comras wrote:

I think this is a well balanced and intelligent comment put forward by Aggers.

The spirit of the game is being eroded by many, but I have to point the finger at the Australian cricket team as the major cause and culprits for this.

As a collective, as a team, as a pack, they verbally abuse their opponents relentlessly, pressurise the umpire and lie to obtain wickets. They obtain an advantage such that other teams have to respond to if they are to compete.

The Australians may have displayed the spirit of the game on occasion, but how many times have they done so in pressure situations? It is easy to walk when your team is 450 for 6 and you have scored a century. It is easy to not claim a catch when your opponents are 150 for 7.

When there superiority is threatened, they revert to a bunch of yobs. Screaming, swearing, shouting and glaring.

Sure other teams have crossed the line - Jellygate being an example, but none with the ferocity and regularity of the Australians. Secondly Sreesanth, Nel, Prior, and similar players are individuals. Their teams do not act in the same way they do.

Ricky Ponting said of his run out by Gary Pratt - "I think it's an absolute disgrace the spirit of the game is being treated like that. It is within the rules; it's just not within the spirit of the game." How very ironic.

P.S.> Andrew Symonds has proven himself to be a monkey, not for any racial connotations, but for gloating about the catch behind - which is a pretty apeish thing to do.

  • 108.
  • At 04:02 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Matthew Stroud wrote:

As ever, spot on Jonathan. The point you make about powerful cricketing nations being able to hold the game to ransom by demanding that an umpire be removed if they make a wrong decision is a crucial one.

The last few years have seen a steady decline in the respect afforded to umpires at international level, with 'Ovalgate' and this most recent case being the most high profile examples. Teams should NEVER be allowed to pressure the ICC into removing an umpire. The complaining country is effectively changing the playing conditions, and affecting their neutrality. The ICC, as we have seen time and time again, will always take the easiest option to diffuse the situation in the short term, without thought for the long term future of the game.

It is so sad that cricket at international level is turning into 'just another sport'. Cricket is in danger of its most integral characteristics: honesty and mutual respect.

  • 109.
  • At 04:02 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Andrew Wakefield wrote:

It is not aussia bashing even a poll in the australian paper says that with 80% they dont play within spiritof the game, i dont beleive for one minute symonds made up the alligation and theindian guy should be banned , i hate it how the icc bows down to pressure from india, both teams should be ashamed of there behaviour but for totally different reasons, whyis it contstantly thesse two teams that cause agro, poor steve bucknor, what a disgrace removing him, its such a shame for cricket, i love australia and australians but the cricket teamwill win anyway they can, fair or fowl, even many cricket reporters want ponting sacked at captain, and india once again just come across as cry baby's as they are getting spanked, cant both teams just grow up,

  • 110.
  • At 04:02 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Chris R wrote:

I would agree with much of the sentiment here, although I disagree with your view on the racist outburst - racism everywhere cannot be condoned for any reason whatsoever, no matter if the player in question had been receiving sledging all match for 5 days.

I do however agree that it is disgraceful that a complaint by the indian cricket board has led to an umpire being removed from the next test. Bucknor is the most experienced umpire in the world, and has no allegiances to anyone - tell me that there haven't been matches where india have received the rub of the green, resulting in a victory for them. It is unfortunate that so many wrong decisions happened to one side, but the australians did have a couple against them as well, and before anyone says 'but those decisions didn't change the match,' its because the aussies picked themselves up, got on with it, and then when they got the fortunate umpiring decisions, they ruthlessly drove the advantage home.

  • 111.
  • At 04:03 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Stan wrote:

"How dare the game be held to ransom in this way." What does that mean? How dare the game [hold itself to ransom]??

There's something amiss with your syntax here, Mr Agnew. You've got a passive voice with an implied subject that is the same as the object!! Who are you charging with doing the holding? And who is doing the editing at the Beeb these days?

  • 112.
  • At 04:03 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Richard Romer-Lee wrote:

My 10 year old son, an avid cricket fan and young player, was appalled when he saw the interview with Andrew Symonds, who acknowledged he had got away a catch behind the wicket. "Daddy, isn't that cheating?" he asked. What kind of example are these cricketers setting to the future of the game?

  • 113.
  • At 04:03 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Graham wrote:

Typical one-eyed aussie response to criticism by C Thomas

  • 114.
  • At 04:03 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • PHutt wrote:

Craig Thomas, Agnew wrote:

"That, of course, does not offer any defence for racism. If Harbhajan Singh did racially abuse Symonds, he must be punished for it."

He also states that it is not only the Aussies guilty of this.

However I think you are missing his key point here, that much as the Australian team is brilliant, they have stepped, or more accurately long jumped, over the line of what is reasonable and sportsmanlike. The tenacity and desire of the team to win is admirable, the methods they have used recently anything but.

  • 115.
  • At 04:04 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Shaun wrote:

Craig Thomas should read the column again to see that at no point does Johnathan Agnew detract from the seriousness of racial abuse. Instead he looks at the factors that may have led to Harbajan reacting in the way he did and if Craig can not see that since the days of Steve Waugh that the aussies have behaved like school bullies then he is obviusly wearing rose tinted specs.

  • 116.
  • At 04:04 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • David Derrivale wrote:

Sorry Aggers, you miss the point. The game of cricket in 2008 is a ferociously competitive arena played by athletes, unlike perhaps the English cricket of 20 years ago. Players and teams will try to take advantage of anything that will increase their chance of victory, even if only by fractions of a percentage point. The Aussies are simply the most extreme example of this. This whole melodrama in Sydney would not have happened had the correct umpiring decisions been made. Perhaps we need to have a sensible discussion about how this could be improved or made more accurate. Hawkeye has been around for long enough and like it or not, it is more accurate than any human being, perhaps the game (at international level at least) needs to embrace the technology that will bring it into the 21st century.

  • 117.
  • At 04:04 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • reverse swinger wrote:

the game is a metaphor of modern day life......

it is disintegrating before our eyes.

what a fantatstic example we are setting the next generation, our kids and our future??

I have nothing but contempt for most modern professionals (captained by Mr Ponting), they are louts: arrogant and full of their own self importance.

Too much money, no manners (eg. chewing gum, gobs open, like cows in a field), no respect (abusing umpires) and no brains....

Not so long ago the louts stood out, now it is difficult to spot the player who upholds the spirit of the game.

Shame on them all, no excuses they are responsible for the demise of a truly fantastic game.

Ban the lot of them!

  • 118.
  • At 04:04 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Raj wrote:

Well said Jonathon!!! Shame the authortise don't think like you.

  • 119.
  • At 04:04 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • aggers wrote:

Post 2...Put your glasses ON, and read the piece properly! I have said it is not entirely an Australian thing. I have said that if Harbhajan racially abused Symonds, he must be punished.

  • 120.
  • At 04:04 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Yatin wrote:

I agree with Jonathan on some points.
Yes, Umpires always do mistakes but not like this test and that also in favor of one team.

I love to hear your analysis on BBC.But either you did not see the match or do not want to blame umpires for their deliberate decisions.

You should write about What action should be taken against those bias umpires?

  • 121.
  • At 04:04 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Amit wrote:

Jonathan I agree with a lot you say, however in any job if you make a huge blunder then you are accountable. Umpiring is no different. If you make a mistake then that is human but if you don't follow the rules then your are incompetent or need a course to refresh yourself just as in any other profession. I have not heard Bucknor apologise for his errors.

By giving Dravid out because Ponting says so is outside the rules. The umpire needs to be sure himself before giving a player out.

Let us keep race issues separate from Umpiring.

On the race issue I agree if there is evidence that can be verified then fine. But there is none.

As Tony Greig said when things get tough for the Aussies they do resort to practices that can upset the opponent. Harbajan is a passionate young man and stakes are high for him as they are for others but you can't penalise him for something that can't be proved.

Finally the Aussies are one of the worst sledgers and some of the things they say can be very offensive. So do I feel sorry for the mess the Aussies have created themselves? No and neither do the people in Australia, based on press reports.

  • 122.
  • At 04:05 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Rob Young wrote:

In reply to Craig Thomas #2 Jonathan made it quite clear that he did not excuse racialist remarks and that they should be punished. However I believe that it is the umpires duty to police these remarks and not that of the players. Perhaps then the umpires would be held in the respect they deserve. The media too must take its share of the blame for highlighting every umpiring mistake even if it is only apparent on replays

  • 123.
  • At 04:05 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Mistry Man wrote:

I agree with parts of the article in that it is the players who make the situation occur in the first place.

Also if Harbhajan has commited an offense he should be punished as long as there is eveidence in place otherwise its unfair to have one mans word against another!

I feel that India did bully the ICC into making the decision to withdraw Steve Bucknor but i felt that this was neccessary.

In football if a team were hard done by bad decision making in a game they would not want that official to be incharge in the next game. Bottom line is that Steve Bucknor made two very serious mistakes which evidently swayed the outcome of the match!

  • 124.
  • At 04:06 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Patrick wrote:

Couldn't agree more Aggers..
I have watched alot of Australia playing cricket in the last 3 or 4 years.. What irritates me the most.. is the way the team thinks it is acceptable to verbally abuse batsman.. then when someone has the bottle to bite back or refuses to be bullied... they spit the dummy out... just ask Sarwan, Vincent, Pieterson, harbhajan, sreesanth (under constant provocation), Graeme Smith (no angel himself)...
What the Aussies forget is that Sport goes in cycles.. they may be enjoying their golden generation currently. but when this ends... which it will... there are going to be a lot of people around the world wanting to rub their noses in it..

  • 125.
  • At 04:06 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Alex Easdale wrote:

Mr Thomas obviously has some problems with recognising the faults of the Australians, and the point of this article. It is their intensity, and win-at-all-costs mentality that has raised the bar in world cricket, but ultimately to the games detriment. Sure, a player who edges the ball and is not given out is not obliged to walk, but it is definitely not in the spirit in the game, and it was the Australians such as Steve Waugh who set a precedent for only leaving the crease when explicitly being given out. The other example from the recent test match was Clarke vehemently claiming that he had taken a slip catch cleanly off Ganguly, who was going well on 51, when it clearly bounced before his hands. Fair enough if he wasn't sure, but that doesn't mean that both he and Ponting can tell the uncertain umpire that it was definitely out, especially with Ganguly (quite rightly in this instance) standing his ground. This Australian side is talented enough to win without such hard-nosed, unsporting play exhibited there, and perhaps more players generally should follow the example of Gilchrist, who I believe is the only player who can be relied on to consistently walk....

  • 126.
  • At 04:06 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Yatin wrote:

I agree with Jonathan on some points.
Yes, Umpires always do mistakes but not like this test and that also in favor of one team.

I love to hear your analysis on BBC.But either you did not see the match or do not want to blame umpires for their deliberate decisions.

You should write about What action should be taken against those bias umpires?

  • 127.
  • At 04:06 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • James wrote:

I disagree with Craig Thomas, in that whilst racism is bad and shouldn't be in the game, the PC brigade have a tendency to massively overreact things like racism. I believe the cheating perpetrated by Ponting and Symmonds was equally as bad. I'm not trying to ignore the racism, but if the media are to be believed there isn't even any proof that Singh said what was alleged, whilst it is plain as day that the Aussies were cheating! If Singh is guilty of racism then fair enough, but I believe some sort of retrospective punishment of cheaters should be also introduced.

  • 128.
  • At 04:06 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Graham wrote:

In truth, I think the crossroads was some years ago.

I would like to see the code of conduct changed to omit the words "on the basis of that person's race, religion, gender, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin."

it would then make an offence of

"using language or gestures that offends, insults, humiliates, intimidates, threatens, disparages or vilifies another person."

On whatever basis. Trying to make your oponent play badly is the lowest of the low, worse than blatant cheating.

Sledging has gone too far and needs to be removed from the game. We need to see some of the appalling behaviour by cricketers stamped out. The Pakistan incident, englishmen throwing jelly beans on the wicket, now this. The deterioration in the conduct of the players must halt now. The only people who are going to achieve that is the ICC in partnership with the individual countries governing bodies. Symonds should be banned for not walking, Ponting should be fined for trying to unduly influence a decision with his finger gesture, and if they can PROVE what Harbhajan said, he should be banned for a long time also.

Every team playing international cricket needs to take a long hard look at themselves. They have behaved shamefully and cricket will disappear if it continues.

  • 129.
  • At 04:07 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • sam wrote:

I think Jonathen has expressed a very balanced opinion. Though a number of mistakes were maded by the umpire, the ICC should not have replaced Bucknor or atleast not after they said he was going to officiate.

As an Indian fan, I am happy to say that the this Australian team is one of the finest in terms of cricketing capability.

However they do not play the game like Gentlemen. I have always admired their desire to win. But the sight of Ricky Ponting raising his finger like an umpire for debatable catch that sometimes even fielders themselves cannot be sure was caught cleanly made me sick.

For Mike Proctor then to take the word of Ricky Ponting who we all now know, will do anything to win over sachin's who was Harbhajan, without any other proof smacks of imcompetence at best or racism at worst. Ricky ponting wanted to unsettle Harbhajan and break the partnership. Remember the famous (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Underarm_bowling_incident_1981).


However the loser in this incident is the game of Cricket (ICC) and it is the players (who are paid a lot of money) who should take the blame for this.

In India, cricket means a lot to us. We may not win every match and we will give our players a lot of stick if they loose but we would not like to see them being treated unfairly.

  • 130.
  • At 04:07 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Matthew Webb wrote:

I must agree with Jonathan.

The game of cricket has been played in a poor spirit for some time; no nation can be exonerated from that, but the Australians are by far the worst culprits.

How can a team that fought the 2005 ashes with such determination, but reapect and decency for their apponents decend to, what in my eyes amounts to cheating.

That is what I call someone that knows he is out but stands there anyway and gloats when he is not given.

Mr Ponting and his men now need to look very hard in the mirror.

  • 131.
  • At 04:07 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Mike wrote:

I completely agree with all the comments made by Johnathan Agnew regadrding the way this current situation has been handled by the ICC and the Indian and Australian players.
When the sports ruling body is not strong enough to stand up for the true traditions and spirit of the game, it is not surprising the situation has escalated. My biggest fear is it could result in controversial decisions occuring more frequently, with no firm action taken by the authorities. At its worst, it could result in divisions between the different nationalities. If this occurs it will result in a more serious problem for the ICC to deal with.

  • 132.
  • At 04:07 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • nigel saunders wrote:

I completely agree. The decision to sacrifice the umpire last year was outrageous and it was totally predictable that it would set a precedent. The ICC has confirmed that it is nothing more than a glorified bowls club. It is time professional sport was administered by professionals.
Nigel Saunders

  • 133.
  • At 04:07 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Shane wrote:

This is reply to Craig Thomas..

When u point at indian crowd ..what about the austrialian crowd that gave racist treatment to SriLakan and South African team and target specific top player..what do u have to say about them...i know tht does not justify..wht is wrong is wrog..Do we have conclusive proof of what bajji said...for atleast one thing is sure we cannot take word of the concerned players symmonds who stand the ground when he was out 3 times or clarke who claims the catch when he had grassed. If that is the case what about Sachin's word...doesn't that accounts for?
Also, i wouldn't know how would have aussi react if these desicons where made againts auss batsmen. One can understand 1-2 can be mistake...but 8-9 cannot be mistakes..it called BIASED.

  • 134.
  • At 04:08 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Raj wrote:

Well said Jonathon!!! Shame the authortise don't think like you.

  • 135.
  • At 04:08 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • dee wrote:

Only after this incident involving Harbhajan and after reading articles written from various senior present-and-past cricketers, I have come to understand the extent of insults, sledging (that's what they call them), etc. that Australia indulges in on field. Is this Cricket? How can any self respecting cricketer not get outraged and loose his cool (and his wicket) when somebody insults his mother/sister/wife. SLEDGING needs to be rooted out of cricket. If this is the AUSTRALIAN way of playing cricket (and raising-their-kids as said by Alan Border) then AUSTRALIA needs to be told by the rest of the world that insulting and vitriol cannot be tolerated in matches involving International teams as this kind of behavior is simply not tolerated in other cultures. IF Australia has won their games by practicing this kind of psychological game on the field, then shame on them and the entire cricket fraternity for tolerating such an unacceptable behavior. I can't believe they call Cricket a genetlmen's game when the players cannot even respect each other.

One suggestion - in future, every batsman should wear a voice-recorder when playing so that all the insults, and abused hurled his way can be recorded.

  • 136.
  • At 04:08 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Paul Hawkins wrote:

I agree largely with Aggers' comments. Bucknor had to be retained for the 3rd test.

One thing you've not mentioned is that not all Aussies have this attitude to walking... Gilchrist regularly walks and should be commended for doing so. It has not harmed his performances, average, respect within the cricketing community or the success of his team over a (frustratingly for an Englishman!) distinguished career.

  • 137.
  • At 04:08 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Matt1984 wrote:

To Craig Thomas, if you're looking for unbiased reportage, take a quick look at the IRB Fair Play League. England are top, while Australia are at the bottom of the table, along with India. That would suggest that Australia aren't playing cricket in the spirit it was meant, as in other sports it is normal for the No. 1 team to be near the top of the Fair Play League, not the bottom.

Aggers admits that racial slurs are indefensible, but makes a valid point in asking what atmosphere would provoke such an awful response? Furthermore, this "monkey" comment remains unproven, aside from two Australians saying they heard it and three Indians (inc. Singh) saying he didn't.

A Gentleman's game no more.

  • 138.
  • At 04:08 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Liz wrote:

In reply to Craig, the orginal piece was about critisim of the umpires and not specifically about the racisim claims.

No one is Aussie bashing but history tells us the two countries who have had the most problems with racisim is Australia and South Africa. Anyone found guility (not on hearsay) should be punished with a ban. Remember Pakistan fans calling Sajid Mahmood a traitor in the last test series? Cricket doesn't need that type of support and doesn't need bullies who make other teams retaliate.

  • 139.
  • At 04:08 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Kiran Tailor wrote:

Firstly Craig Thomas no one is disputing that IF Andrew Symonds was called a 'monkey' by Harbhajan then she should be punished but the point the Indians and many others are trying to make that has obviously gone over your head is that there was no conclusive evidence and they match referee went on the word of the Australian players which begs the question is the word of the Australian players more respected than that of the Indians or any other team...quite obviously not when looking at the dishonestly displayed by this team in this test match alone. To brandish someone a racist without any evidence is stupid and something that could dog them for not just the rest of career but the rest of their life and that amongst other much publicised issues is what the Indians are so incensed about.

Great column Aggers nice to see some unbiased commentary that looks at the bigger picture rather than some of the columns on a certain other cricket site (cricinfo).

  • 140.
  • At 04:08 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Stephen Reeve wrote:

Craig Thomas refers to '.... tinted glasses Mr Agnew and try to provide unbiased comment'. It is a pity that he (Thomas) does not refer to the facts. J Agnew was highly critical of the behaviour of the English players last summer - and continues so to be. The point that needs to be emphasised is not only that Australia cheat, but that they gloat over their ability to get away with it. At the very least Ponting must have had doubts that he had taken that catch cleanly. In my mind he knew damn well that it was not out. He cheated. Symonds cheated. Clarke cheated.

It is a shame because this Australian team are not only the best of the present era but one of the best in the history of the sport. Sadly you could not give me enough money to watch them.

J Agnew is right .... something must be done now or the game is lost for ever. Why remove the umpire from the series and yet allow cheats to continue playing.

Finally, if there is proof that racist language is used in or even outside a match then that player should be banned for life irrespective of nationality.

Stephen Reeve

  • 141.
  • At 04:08 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • nige weir wrote:

Just come home from a tough day at work and enjoyed every word of your article aggers. A wonderful piece of literature you wrote there. Greetings from Norway

  • 142.
  • At 04:09 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Chris wrote:

Firstly racism has to be punished full stop.
Secondly (and far less importantly), cricketers from all countries cannot have it both ways. It seems to me that most international players try to con the umpires with ludicrous and constant appealing, claiming catches that aren’t and gloating when they “get away with one”. It seems almost as bad as football.
The point I am trying to make is that every instance of successful “cheating” means someone else feels cheated and they in turn blame the umpire.
Cricketers who play like this deserve everything they get. They alone have created the situation and only they can improve it. No doubt Symonds will be up in arms the next time he is given out incorrectly but he like the rest deserve everything they get.

  • 143.
  • At 04:09 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Angus Fleming wrote:

"But the real fault lies with the players – and it is their behaviour, attitude and respect for the game and its traditions that need urgently to be addressed"

The REAL fault of this now being a major issue between two nations lies with you and your colleagues. What was wrong with the time when these issues were sorted out internally .... instead of an incident involving two individuals (which nobody overheard)now being used to breed hatred.

What the press has done with this issue will be far more damaging and long-lasting than the incident itself.

Congratulations!!!!

  • 144.
  • At 04:09 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Owen wrote:

I don't think for one moment Jonathan is attempting to justify what Harbhajan Singh has been found guilty of, as Craig Thomas seems to consider. Indeed, Jonathan explicitly condemns it. His major point, which Craig Thomas seems content to gloss over is the attitude of the Australians, and their disprespect towards many of the conventions/norms of cricket. Not walking is one thing, which is fine, but for Symonds to then "visbly gloat" to the media is another. Playing competitively is one thing - playing the way the Aussies do, and its interesting to note they are roundly condemned in the Australian press is quite another, and is a backward step for sport in general.

  • 145.
  • At 04:09 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Saravanane wrote:

Though I am an Indian, I do agree with Mr Agnew's view that teams cannot dictate who officiates a match. But it is equally important that the standard of umpiring is maintained; just as no player, whatever his past performance, can take his place in a test team for granted, so it should be with the umpires. Moreover, I feel it is only a matter of time before television replays will be used for decisions such as doubtful catches and LBWs etc.- the technology already exists and seems to be well standardised.

  • 146.
  • At 04:09 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Tintin wrote:

The real issue here is that the 'mistakes' are happening in one direction only, as they always tend to happen in Australia (even Bob Woolmer pointed it out a few years ago).

Saying umpires make mistakes is, in your own words, a 'cop-out' and a ridiculous diversion.

  • 147.
  • At 04:09 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Billy wrote:

The game of cricket is in danger of going the route of football, and the Aussies are leading the charge. For imagainary card waving in order to get players booked, read Ponting wagging a finger to try and get people called out. For simulation in order to win penalties/free kicks, read over-exuberant celebration to get people given out on grassed catches. It's a disgrace! And it's a disgrace that Bucknor has been dropped. Football referees are under constant pressure to try and call the right decisions and spot the deliberate cheating. Cricket umpires should not have to take on the added pressure of spotting this cheating.
I admit to a strong dislike of the Aussie cricket teams of old, but they always played within the spirit of the game, and let's be honest, they were bloody good. The current team is also bloody good, but with the exception of a select few, they are prepared to lie and cheat in order to win, and that's not right.
A "win at all costs" mentality may get you into the record books fellas, but mud sticks. And Ponting's team will now forever be remembered as an underhand, cinical team of cheaters.

  • 148.
  • At 04:10 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Bala wrote:

I don't agree with everything Jonathan has said. No doubt, racism should not be tolerated at all. However, the umpires also are responsible to some extent for the state of cricket at the moment. They should make use of technology to avoid gross mistakes. That will remove the source of the trouble to some extent.

  • 149.
  • At 04:10 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • coomar wrote:

Aussies went overboard. They preach one thing but will do something else.

Agree Umpires will always make mistakes But not too.o many against ONE team in ONE test match. $440/hour sounds a hefty sum to make by the elite umpires to make mistakes against one team. I guess when we see the first mistake we should stop watching becoz we should know which way the game is going?

Some of the pundits like Tony Greig, Ian Chappell etc., have been calling for the ICC to revamp. What a great opportunity we hae now?

Sreesanth's shoulder barging incident was simply awful(i am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt possibly brain cramp for bowling the one feet no ball).

  • 150.
  • At 04:10 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • CricketLover wrote:

Absolutely right Aggers. Ricky Ponting and his team, good though they are, need to remember that, as professional sportsmen, they are in the entertainment business. The way they play cricket removes the entertainment. Carry on like this and no-one outside Australia will turn up to see this snarling, wingeing bunch

  • 151.
  • At 04:10 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Alan M wrote:

Absolutely spot on Mr Agnew, a brave and honest assessment of the Australian cricket team and those who think differently are in complete denial.

  • 152.
  • At 04:10 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Chris wrote:

This kind of thing has been threatening to happen for years in the way the Aussies sledge mercilessly. While undoubtedly any kind of racism should be exposed and the perpetrator dealt with in the harshest terms, it leaves the question why the comment was made in the first place. I find it rather sad and disingenous that Craig Thomas makes the point about 'English Glasses' - by all means play the game to win - but do so in a way that maintains respect for your opponent and the game itself. Otherwise, what's the point in playing? I've played in club games where I've seen opponents behave badly, such is their need to win - I want to win games I play in - but I don't want to lose the respect of the people I'm playing with and against in the process. Its not a case of English Glasses Mr Thomas - its about respecting the game and what it means - I wonder what the reaction would have been by the Australians if an English batsmen admitted doing what Symonds did when he was clearly out?

  • 153.
  • At 04:11 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Paul Hawkins wrote:

I agree largely with Aggers' comments. Bucknor had to be retained for the 3rd test.

One thing you've not mentioned is that not all Aussies have this attitude to walking... Gilchrist regularly walks and should be commended for doing so. It has not harmed his performances, average, respect within the cricketing community or the success of his team over a (frustratingly for an Englishman!) distinguished career.

  • 154.
  • At 04:11 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • DeanC wrote:

Interesting comments. Crossroads, I think not, and I doubt the legacy of a fine team will be tarnished just because the Indians are such poor losers.

The match was marred by poor umpiring, resulting with poor player behaviour from both sides, but it was also marred by excessive beat-up of all incidents by the print and electronic media, aided by interminable replays which umpires currently don't have access to. Does anyone remember that it was one of the most thrilling and absorbing Test matches for years, with some superb performances? Tendulkar, Laxman, Hussey, Hayden, Symonds, Clarke, Lee, Kumble were all brilliant. The Singh incidient probably could have been handled without the need for formal charge.
I do hope the Indians show up for the Perth test because, aside from their hypocritical attitudes, they are the easily best team to come here in the last 10 years.

  • 155.
  • At 04:11 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Jude Burcombe wrote:

Mr Agnew always speaks a lot of sense in my opinion, and although he may have glossed over the odd thing in his argument, his main point is well made. Cricket's current malaise is due to the poor behaviour of players. I'm sure very few genuine cricket fans would not agree that Australia are the main culprits. And the sad thing is they don't need to be, so far ahead are they of all the other test playing nations. Cricket, the sport I adore, is no longer a gentlemanly game at the highest level. In my opinion it was the sub-continent players who stopped walking in the 1980s, and now nobody walks, save perhaps Sangakkara and (ironically) Gilchrist (and Alec Stewart when he was playing). Now top players like Ponting, the world's best player, are appealing for catches that were grassed. I find it hard to understand how they sleep at night, knowing that their every move will be analysed to the nth degree by 10 replays. Players need to respect each other, the umpires, the laws and integrity of the game, walk when they've hit it, don't appeal when the batsman hasn't hit it, and take poor decisions with good grace. If they don't cricket will end up like football, Heaven forbid.

  • 156.
  • At 04:11 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Raghu wrote:

Quite a few folks talk about being held ransom by BCCI.

Clarify few things:
About umpire change, After all the disgust of first days play any mindful umpire would refer a stumping appeal to the 3rd umpire.
Mr. Bucknor's ego, arrogance, bias or whatever is not fair something corrupt. How do we play such people as umpire.
Simon Taufel - is more than respected by any Indian - He did mistakes. We do understand error, But what happened in Sydney is bad.

Harbajjan issue,
Sachin and Harbajan claim they didn't
Ponting and few Aussie claim he did.
How is that proof enough to brand somebody "racist" for life.
Without all this hoopla, For life harbajjan will be attached as racist for a something no proof.
Do you really beleive Harbajjan is "racist", He is tempermental look at how he reacts when his teammates misfield or drop a catch.
I "assume" even Symonds wouldn't
have cared much, Except ponting with a arrogance, attitude called on all this.

Remove the Bucknor in Perth and Bajji guilt - Inspite of all the barbaric australian play would have continued the tour grudgingly.

Australia play hard, not fair.
Dravid's catch is good enough, Gilchrist could have seen contact clearly.

  • 157.
  • At 04:11 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Calvert Douglas wrote:

Not only was Symonds guilty of extremely bad sportmanship but Ponting's lead in taking over from the umpire and his bleating about Harbhajan only adds to his growing list of black marks.

  • 158.
  • At 04:12 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • NK wrote:

Cricket is a form of entertainment and I wonder what kind of image these scandals portray to young kids? Indians are no angels, but, at the same time, they are not arrogant, wild and raucous like Aussies. The standard of behavior has gone down the drain in recent years and there is no room for cheating and Kumble is right that only one side played with that spirit.

Craig Thomas, dude, there is no evidence..read news again, its just that Match Referee took word of one group which means that Tendulkar who supported Harbhajan lied. See, history of Tendulkar, the guy whom Bradman compared with himself. See, who supported Ponting? Clarke, who even didn't leave the crease after he was clearly out in 2nd innings and Hayden, who is a dominating bullying figure on cricket field..Add Punter to that, who himself is not a great example..So, think before you write anything on this blog

  • 159.
  • At 04:12 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • PaulK wrote:

The stories you hear coming out from other players of Aussie sledging over the year, insulting players wives, saying they have slept with their wives, insulting their families etc is just as offensive as the alledged rascist comments of Harbigan. Whilst the rascism should be deplored and yes it should be punished, so should these other offensive comments which have been around for years. You can be sure that within this test match the Aussies emplyed some sledging, which would have been offensive to the players concerned, however they are not punished for this. I agree with Aggers, that they can take give it, but not take it, like all bullies

  • 160.
  • At 04:12 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Donald wrote:

Nobody but the players know if a racist comment was indeed used as the umpires don't know and the microphones seemingly didn't pick it up. All we can do is speculate the truth.

As for the way Australians play cricket which the article is actually about. I think it works and possibly represents some of the characters playing now, e.g Ponting isn't David Gower, but it definitely went too far in the last test from Australia. It's a shame that the sense of humour and sportingness that went with it has gone now, perhaps with Warney and others retiring? Ricky Ponting has also made a fool of himself now, as no one will trust him if he attempts to "verify" a catch again. He's even criticised in his own country so it isn't really Aussie bashing to say their antics did go too far in this test.

  • 161.
  • At 04:12 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • kc uniyal wrote:

Mr Agnew has has correctly assessed the problem. Its the businessmen who are running the show.I will add,in the Indian context, its now politicians who have also joined the party,and the aim to plunder the huge till they have created out of this cricket business.I certainlly approve youranalysis.

  • 162.
  • At 04:12 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • DeanC wrote:

Interesting comments. Crossroads, I think not, and I doubt the legacy of a fine team will be tarnished just because the Indians are such poor losers.

The match was marred by poor umpiring, resulting with poor player behaviour from both sides, but it was also marred by excessive beat-up of all incidents by the print and electronic media, aided by interminable replays which umpires currently don't have access to. Does anyone remember that it was one of the most thrilling and absorbing Test matches for years, with some superb performances? Tendulkar, Laxman, Hussey, Hayden, Symonds, Clarke, Lee, Kumble were all brilliant. The Singh incidient probably could have been handled without the need for formal charge.
I do hope the Indians show up for the Perth test because, aside from their hypocritical attitudes, they are the easily best team to come here in the last 10 years.

  • 163.
  • At 04:12 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • A SIDDIQUI wrote:

I AGREED WITH THE COMMENTS OF JONATHAN AGNEW. "CRICKET IS THE GAME OF LORDS AND PLAYED BY GENTLEMEN". I AM SORRY TO SAY IT IS NO MORE A "GENTLEMEN`S GAME". I THINK ALL THE PLAYERS MUST BE STOPPED FROM SHOUTING,JUMPING AND PUNCHING IN THE AIR WHEN SOME ONE IS OUT.There are limit of every thing. THEY SHOULD HAVE WATCHED 1950-1960 CRICKET AND LEARNT FROM TEAMS OF THOSE DAYS.

  • 164.
  • At 04:12 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • r.j.t. wrote:

hello playmates,
i have to agree with jonathan the players never make a mistake, ever ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. the aussies want it both ways, they are acting like bullies, as soon as someone stands up to them and fights fire with fire they run home and hide behind mums skirt ( in this caes the umpires ). big load of kids the lot of um.

now that two teams have had umpires removed what future does this hold?, every time a team has a sticky descesion and goes behind they will run around shouting cheat and try to get officials removed, it is a very sad day for cricket and it needs correcting now
still chin up only 4 months till the english season starts.

  • 165.
  • At 04:13 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Brian wrote:

I appreciate that this will not be a popular thing to say, but...

If a racist remark was made towards Andrew Symonds or, indeed, anyone else, then it was wrong and should be punished. However, I suggest that 'monkey' is not necessarily racist – merely offensive.

The combination of his hairstyle and vast quantities of sunblock around the lips make Symonds look ridiculous in a way that other players do not. My opinion, you don't have to share it. It makes him a natural target for remarks centred on his appearance. It may be wrong to make any personal comments, but a lot happens in the heat of a moment and everyone is obsessive about racism, when this particular incident (and the spectator abuse in India) may have nothing to do with race.

I don't know the truth of this, and neither do you. Only the perpetrators know what was in their minds at the time they said the word monkey.

  • 166.
  • At 04:13 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • rakesh wrote:

I agree largely with Jonathan with his impartial views on the issue, which was truly a sad saga.

I truly admired the game of Waugh's team although at occasions it was right on the edge of the sporting spirit. And that's the difference between the Waugh's team and Ponting's team - Ponting's team just can't walk the fine line. Hiding the unfair game under the name of the much deserved 'hard' game is callous. Using and goading umpires, who for some reason have abhorrence for technology, just to score a win is not a game by any standard - even Australian standard.

I do agree that umpiring can be a tough task and a mistake here and there should be allowed in all the fairness of the game. This is not the first time mistake has been made and obviously not the last time. But what is shocking is that they kept repeating it without taking help of the third umpire and a feeling of bias was created in everyone that watched and heard the game. The match referee had a job to do here in order to bring the ethics back into the game but he failed to do so and watched it from outside. The failures of the official to nip it in time resulted in this outright revolt and the ICC will have to gulp it in all its humility.

Kumble and Sachin represent the humane face of the game and it is just fitting that the sports community support them by standing by them if we want the cricket to be played like gentlemen used to play. Kumble felt cheated by Ponting's volte face on his earlier promise of helping the umpire and Sachin felt cheated that his words before the hearing were not counted. In both the situations the cricket was compromised.

I just wish that the whole issue gets resolved and we witness some good games between the teams.

  • 167.
  • At 04:13 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • JEROME wrote:

MR. AGNEWS COMMENTARY AS USUAL HITS THE NAIL ON THE HEAD.

TEAM AUSTRALIA ITS TIME TO RID CRICKET OF SLEDGING. BEING WOLD LEADERS, PLS TAKE THE LEAD !

MR. HARBACHAN SINGH IF YOU DID INDULGE ON ANY RACIAL COMMENTS, SHAME ON YOU !

DISAGREE WITH YR COMMENTS ON MR. HAIR. HE MADE A DECISION WHICH HE WAS NOT ABLE TO SUBSTANTIATE. OVER A PERIOD OF TIME HE WAS THOUGHT TO BE RACIST AND THERE'S NO PLACE FOR RACISM IN CRICKET. GOOD RIDDANCE !

UNFORTUNATE THAT MR. BUCKNOR DID NOT HAVE A GOOD GAME. HE MADE A FEW REGRETABLE MISTAKES, BUT WHO DOESNT ?
UNFORTUNATE THAT HE WAS REPLACED.

MOST IMPORTANT AND SOMETHING THAT YOU DID NOT DWELL ON.
WITH ALL THE AVAILABLE TECHNOLOGY WE HAVE WHY ISNT THE 3RD UMPIRE (TV UMPIRE ?) NOT ABLE TO OVER-TURN DECISIONS MADE ON THE PITCH ? THERE IS NO PERSON IN A BETTER POSITION TO SECOND GUESS HIS TWO COLLEAGUES ON THE FIELD THAN THE 3RD TV UMPIRE.

BY THE WAY, IM INDIAN.

THANKS

JEROME

  • 168.
  • At 04:13 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • jonnerzz wrote:

Absolutely spot on Aggers!!!!

I suggest Craig Thomas read the article again. Aggers clearly states that any racism should be punished.

Anyone who watched the 2005 Ashes could see that the Aussies, brilliant cricketers as they are, don't like it up em!!!!!

It is not particularly novel to note that the Australians have been following the letter of the laws of cricket whilst ignoring the spirit of the laws for many years.

The most telling and, I hope, most lasting remark is that of Anil Kumble's who, consciously or unconsciously, echoed Bill Woodfull's summation of leg theory, another, older blight on the game.

The fact is that everyone who likes sports of all kinds instinctively knows what is and what is not cheating. Jardine knew he was cheating whilst not actually transgressing the laws of the game.

All those who watched it knew it too. The Australian public knew it and complained bitterly and rightly that it was 'not cricket'. The English public knew it, but were desperate 'to put one over the colonials' and accepted it as a necessary evil.

To their enourmous credit, the Australian public of today knows that Ponting's men are cheating without transgressing the laws of the game and are rightly criticising their own team for it.

Ultimately, Ponting and his team must decide whether to continue to behave in a manner they know to be wrong. Unlike leg theory, I cannot see a way to legislate for this sort of appalling behaviour.

In other words, if the Australian team choose to continue with their current standard of bad manners and ill grace, the rest of the cricket world will be faced with the unpleasant choice of aping Ponting, Symonds et al or of tolerating further losses.

  • 170.
  • At 04:13 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • raj wrote:

I do not agree with Mr Agnew. I may be biased because i am indian, but if you look at the umpiring error, it is completely unacceptable. why did the decisions not referred to third umpire when it is available. how can steve Bucknor ask fielders opinion (Ponting) before taking the decision? he could have instead referred to third umpire. also look at the way arrogance of Symonds when he stated that he was out, if he was rue sportsmen, he could have walked out just has Sachin had done on so many occasions. If you just support an umpire in spite of being wrong on many occasions then you are wrong. In Amrecian Footbal league, any decision can be challenged either by players or coaches. similarly in final phases there is automatic booth review. Finally, Pontng should take responsibility of begin captain f world champions and act accordingly.
Raj

  • 171.
  • At 04:13 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Riccardo wrote:

Nothing wrong with criticising mr agnew here craig althought i must say i agree with everything he has said and it's always refreshing to hear such honest truths but "Take off you English tinted glasses Mr Agnew" well you might as well be one of the cricketer with comments like that. the fact is that Australia play in the wrong spirit.they are fantastic cricketers, the best but their constant cheating is irritating. yes i use the word "cheating" but symonds laughs at cheating. moreover i was sickened to see anil kumble have michael clarke caught behind for a duck blatantly with the ball changing direction on the way to slip only to see "pup" not walking and putting on a show to the umpire as if to say i didn't snick it. thank God it was given out. keep up the superb work Agnew and co and i look forward to the test match special commentary on Englands tour to New zealand where im hoping the english batsmen get 100's and we don't find it difficult to bowl them out twice, if so i'll be worried.

  • 172.
  • At 04:14 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Charles Davey wrote:

Excellent column. Sadly it applies to all sports, at almost all levels. In an after game confrontation at the U14 level my son's football (soccer) team had to call the police to restrain players and parents from the other team - and they had won!

From the 'professional' foul to the personal head butt, the steroids and the sledging, no sport is untouched.

As fitness levels dramatically improve, resulting in faster games, we have a balance in electronic helps: we should make use of these advances to aid the beluagured officials - and they have to ask for and be able to use the help that is there.

And the players need to realise that poor performances, personal and on and off the filed, will result in financial loss. How else will they get the message?

Lastly, perhaps we need commentary from those who did achieve greatness or captained wisely - Sobers, Mike Brearley etc - to bring back a sense of proportion.

  • 173.
  • At 04:14 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • daraius wrote:

We live in a strange world.

One player calls an opponent a "monkey" - admittedly, not quite in the manner that thousands of exasperated parents across the world use the term against their bratty offspring every day - and he is punished. Rightly so, if proven guilty.

Another player calls his opponent a "b.....d" - a slur in any culture on the individual and his immediate family - and even if he is seen by millions on TV mouthing the word, it's brushed aside as "on-field banter".

It is indeed a strange world we live in !

  • 174.
  • At 04:14 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Roger McCarthy wrote:

There's a huge difference - in my view - between a burning desire to win and a 'win at all costs' mentality. The Australians possess the latter and that is why they lost my respect some years ago.

  • 175.
  • At 04:14 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Rohan wrote:

There has been no golden era of unselfish completely honest gentleman's cricket and there are plenty of books that document that. How does claiming a grounded catch compare with games thrown throughout cricket history? How does the Aussies current 'professionalism' compare with Botham and Richards' unprofessional 'antics' down at Somerset in the 80s. etc, etc.

Claiming catches that have obviously been downed is an area for the off field umpires. On field umpires should by the natural course of things be able to refer to the third umpire where there are doubts.

By the nature of the beast some catches will be hard to call and the batsman should be favoured. But cricket has always lived with benefit of the doubt decisions given by eye. HD TV is likely to improve the situation over the coming years.

Retrospectively if for some reason the catches are not referred and the fielder has obviously claimed a downed catch a warning is in order from the 4th umpire after play has finished.

Racism should be punished. And finally no team should be able to throw the toys out of the pram and threaten to go home, it's pathetic.

  • 176.
  • At 04:15 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Guy Bailey wrote:

The point about whether to walk or not walk is clear. Jonathan is not saying no-one else does it. He is saying that no-one goes on national tv, admits he hit it and then stands there smiling about it. That in a nutshell incapsulates the lack of respect for the game that the Aussies in particular, but many players in general now have.

To me, the captain must take the brunt here, as he is the man who has driven his side to this level. Indeed, even he runs at umpires waving his finger, or appeals for a catch when he knows it was grounded. Ponting is not leading as a man who has the values of the game at heart. His celebration at the end, along with that of all the aussies, was sickly. No Andrew Flintoff's offering hands of condolence etc.

The game is not what it was 15 years ago, and that is for two reasons - money, and the ICC have a lot to answer in that respect, and the Australian cricket team, who have taken the desire to win, abandoned it, and moved on to an unaccpetable deisre to win at all, and any, cost.

  • 177.
  • At 04:15 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • ado wrote:

Its an odd world we live in. It seems you can hurl any abuse you like at your opponents *providing* its doesn't have racial overtones but the moment any suggestion of racism is made all hell breaks loose. I'm not saying racial comments are acceptable but surely now is the time for better behaviour all round to be demanded and enforced.

For me, Ponting and Symonds are pretty much at the level of primary school playground bullies who, having continually wound up another child until they wildly lash out in frustration, then immediately run to the teacher in tears shouting "sir, sir, he hit me, he hit me!"

  • 178.
  • At 04:15 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • coomar wrote:

Aussies went overboard. They preach one thing but will do something else.

Agree Umpires will always make mistakes But not too.o many against ONE team in ONE test match. $440/hour sounds a hefty sum to make by the elite umpires to make mistakes against one team. I guess when we see the first mistake we should stop watching becoz we should know which way the game is going?

Some of the pundits like Tony Greig, Ian Chappell etc., have been calling for the ICC to revamp. What a great opportunity we hae now?

Sreesanth's shoulder barging incident was simply awful(i am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt possibly brain cramp for bowling the one feet no ball).

  • 179.
  • At 04:15 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Richard Tracey wrote:


Well done Aggers.

I only wish you were still capable of hurling down bouncers at over 100 mph.

  • 180.
  • At 04:15 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • tonyblair wrote:

what is so sanctimonious about the removal of a nonperforming and probably biased(against india) "senior" umpire.. is it an imposition of the culture of the raj wherein authority is paramount and "seniority" is untouchable .. i guess not .. bucknors quality has been degraded and it is the persistence of the ICC with him that is the cause of this problem. umpiring errors that were consistently made during the second test should definitely reflect on the selection of the umpire.. there should a selection policy too for umpires not only player.. players are the problem for the other problems that plague the series.. one should address the root of the issue rather than blame the BCCI of flexing its muscle.. this would not have happened if it were not that the asian bloc always feels discriminated against.. and many times rightly so..

  • 181.
  • At 04:15 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Chaitanya wrote:

Forgo Ego and think about the future of cricket.

What has happened is unfortunate and clearly not good for the future. Australians have to look at it from what it does to cricket. Do they want every kid in Australia to stand their ground when he knicks a ball or appeal when he is unsure of catch? These are questions every cricketer has to ask to oneself. Ricky Pointing's biggest mistake is not doing what he did, but trying to defend it as right. At the end of his career he may statistically be the greatest batsman, but I think that will not necessarily speak of his contribution to cricket.

My biggest question is why do Australia - the best team in the world, the team that sets standards in all forms of game, set standards for sportmanship and fair play?

  • 182.
  • At 04:15 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Robert wrote:

Mr Agnew is not being pro-English, he is being pro-cricket. He stated clearly that Singh should be punished if found guilty of racism. I think his point is that the alleged outburst was a symptom of a disturbing trend in modern cricket, away from competitive sportsmanship and the other qualities that make the game unique and appealing, and towards a far more unsavoury approach where sledging and downright abuse are seen as legitimate tactics to be deployed as often as possible. Australia are simply the trailblazers of this trend. The likes of Peter Roebuck and Wasim Akram clearly agree - as do a majority of the Australian public, according to a SMH poll. The sad fact is most other teams are following Australia's lead. It may win you the game - but it certainly hasn't won you the crowd.

  • 183.
  • At 04:16 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • JEROME wrote:

MR. AGNEWS COMMENTARY AS USUAL HITS THE NAIL ON THE HEAD.

TEAM AUSTRALIA ITS TIME TO RID CRICKET OF SLEDGING. BEING WOLD LEADERS, PLS TAKE THE LEAD !

MR. HARBACHAN SINGH IF YOU DID INDULGE ON ANY RACIAL COMMENTS, SHAME ON YOU !

DISAGREE WITH YR COMMENTS ON MR. HAIR. HE MADE A DECISION WHICH HE WAS NOT ABLE TO SUBSTANTIATE. OVER A PERIOD OF TIME HE WAS THOUGHT TO BE RACIST AND THERE'S NO PLACE FOR RACISM IN CRICKET. GOOD RIDDANCE !

UNFORTUNATE THAT MR. BUCKNOR DID NOT HAVE A GOOD GAME. HE MADE A FEW REGRETABLE MISTAKES, BUT WHO DOESNT ?
UNFORTUNATE THAT HE WAS REPLACED.

MOST IMPORTANT AND SOMETHING THAT YOU DID NOT DWELL ON.
WITH ALL THE AVAILABLE TECHNOLOGY WE HAVE WHY ISNT THE 3RD UMPIRE (TV UMPIRE ?) NOT ABLE TO OVER-TURN DECISIONS MADE ON THE PITCH ? THERE IS NO PERSON IN A BETTER POSITION TO SECOND GUESS HIS TWO COLLEAGUES ON THE FIELD THAN THE 3RD TV UMPIRE.

BY THE WAY, IM INDIAN.

THANKS

JEROME

  • 184.
  • At 04:16 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Mark wrote:

Well said Aggers. I couldn't agree more.

  • 185.
  • At 04:17 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Alan wrote:

At last a cricket journalist writes what the fans are truly thinking. Good on you Aggers. Spot on comment.

  • 186.
  • At 04:17 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • tony wrote:

I know that you believe that sreesanth did bowl the beamer to kp but the only present day bowler that does that is lee ask NZ.I however agree with your other comments fully.

  • 187.
  • At 04:17 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • adrian wales wrote:

I agree with everything that Jonathon says here and I'm afraid Craig that I think you're missing the point slightly. Racism must be stamped out, agreed, but when did the term "monkey" become a racist insult. Parents call their children monkeys all the time, is that racist? The Aussies are the Kings of Sledge and if one of them gets called a monkey that goes with the territory of playing the game hard as they like to call it. When they get bullied back they run to the teacher.
They started this ugly business and unfortunately it has come back to bite them. It's time that true lovers of the "gentleman's game" started demanding more from the world's number 1 side.

  • 188.
  • At 04:18 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • ash wrote:


Can i ask what is the point of the 3rd umpire? he made 2 crucial errors in the 2nd test. Surely all decisions that the umpire is unsure about should now be reffered to the 3rd umpire? (although not LBW's)

He sits there drinking tea all day, it would give him something useful to do!

  • 189.
  • At 04:18 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Karthik wrote:

I agree with you that individual cricket boards cannot dictate terms to the ICC. In this case, ICC should have reacted before the BCCI did. Bucknor did not just make a few mistakes for the first time in the Sydney Test. If this is what ICC calls "Elite", then it is sad.

I also agree that racism cannot be tolerated on any sports pitch (even off it). If we are really civilized, why have we been living with Sledging in cricket.

  • 190.
  • At 04:18 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Keith Somerville wrote:

Very well argued and accurate piece - clearly identifying the mix of issues in this particular row.

I strongly agree with his point about teams using their clout to "see off" umpires they don't like. The ICC should never have allowed it. But I also agree with Craig Thomas on the need to punish Singh if he used the word monkey.

The Australian team (as in other sports where they push the boundaries but whinge like hell when they are beaten at their own game) are partly to blame but so are the Indian board, which rarely seems to take the interests of the game into account in the way they behave. Their approach was also somewhat mirrored by Mr Patel above in his rant.

I do fear that without umpires getting the support of the ICC cricket will go the way of soccer with endless player, manager and press pressure on referees, who then lose the respect of all leading to the unedifying scenes we witness at football matches.

At least it's not happening in rugby yet!

  • 191.
  • At 04:19 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Andy wrote:

Well said Jonathan. I don't always agree with you but you have captured everything that I and I'm sure many other cricket fans have felt.

Craig Thomas unfortunately appears to miss the point entirely and this helps explain why these incidents have occurred. The Australians in particular will never acknowledge the problems they cause with their behaviour and because it is allowed to go unchecked by the authorities, they continue to believe they are doing nothing wrong.

The reaction of the authorities so far to the whole incident is extremely worrying. First, I struggle to see how Harbhajan was found guilty if there was no evidence other than Symonds' word. This should be explained. Secondly, the ICC should have announced immediately after the game that Bucknor was to be rested but they didn't allowing resentment to build. Thirdly, (and more importantly) the Indian authorities should CERTAINLY not now be allowed to hold the ICC to ransom, once they made the decision to let Bucknor stand. As Jonathan rightly points out, this dangerous precedent was set over the Hair incident.

Much as I'm pleased to see Hogg charged, my pleasure is entirely diminished by the feeling that this is purely a sop to the Indian authorities. Hogg's behaviour is consistent with the example set by Ponting, Clarke et al over the last few years which has always gone unchecked, so why charge him now? A crossroads indeed...

  • 192.
  • At 04:19 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Bikash wrote:

Ya I completely agree with Jonathan.Whatever has happened will only destroy cricket.It is destroying cricket.Nobody is greater then the game.But this is exactly what Australian team is showing.Yes, mistakes do happen,but you should be sorry for that,not proud.They have obviously not broken any rule on the field,but there are things which are not defined by rules but by ethics.And it is important.And everyone should understand it.

  • 193.
  • At 04:19 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • SR wrote:

I agree with Jonathan on everything except the umpire view.

Mr.Bucknor fell far below the standards he set himself, so he should have been dropped. It happens in football when refrees make big mistakes and what Bucknor made was a series of high-profile, match turning, grave mistakes.

Come on Mr.Agnew, if you have guts, I am sure you will read my comment, explain us how you felt when Bucknor failed to spot the audible & visible deflection of Symonds nick to the keeper. Explain how you felt when the bat was behind Dravid's pads yet Bucknor thought the ball hit the bat.

He is a great man, no doubt. But time has come for him to step down, he is getting old.

  • 194.
  • At 04:20 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Derek wrote:

I agree with most of this article. After regarding Ponting as a tetchy, whinging captain in their 2005 Ashes defeat, I had begun to think him not so bad after all.

How wrong I've been! He's only magnanimous in victory. When he feels things are not going his way, the spirit of cricket gets thrown right out of the window. I think we may see more of this behaviour from him, as he no longer has Shane Warne to throw the ball to.

  • 195.
  • At 04:20 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Andy Harper wrote:

Jonathan Agnew makes his point very clearly, and I completely agree, but my comment is this, why o' why when a player knows he has hit the ball, and subsequently the ball has been clearly caught, does he not walk, as in the case of Andrew Symonds. At the end of the day, Symonds not only cheated the Indian Cricket Team and the Umpires, he also cheated himself.

If he'd played in the spirit of the game, he would have just walked anyway, but untimately, what goes around comes around, and he has to live ultimately with cheating the game, the public and himself.

  • 196.
  • At 04:20 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Ed H wrote:

Craig Thomas needs to read Agnew's column again if he thinks he seeks merely to "Aussie bash". I found plenty of praise for Punter's bully boys and their achievements in the article.

Has Mr. Thomas ever considered that it is the way in which the current Australians play their cricket (and talk it...) that causes the rest of the cricketing globe to so eagerly await the next time that Ponting and his mates get booted off their pedestal?


  • 197.
  • At 04:20 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Gabriel Blaazer wrote:

Well said Jonathan. The behaviour of the Australian team was unacceptable and should be investigated because they are not playing in the spitit of the game. Having watched the game, Harbajan was obviously goaded as were many other Indian players, but it is no excuse for racism. Hopefully this mess can be sorted out and the game go back to the way it should be.

  • 198.
  • At 04:20 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Lawrence wrote:

Ignore the boorish comment above Jonathan; a really well written and thoughtful account as usual. You're absolutely right - these issues have been bubbling away under the surface of cricket for awhile now and it was only a matter of time before they erupted.

The ICC should not bow to pressure from ANY team whatsoever. I think it would have been better if the rest of the series had been called off, that way it would have forced the higher authorities to deal with the issues instead of using the umpie as a scapegoat.

  • 199.
  • At 04:21 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Michael Dickenson wrote:

Rather than accuse Jonathan Agnew of
looking to 'aussie bash ' in his article,Mr Thomas might take time out to read the report on the BBC Sport website today where in an online poll in Australian newspaper the Daily Telegraph,79 % of respondents said Australia did not play in the true spirit of the game and 83 % said Ponting was not a good ambassador for the game . Mr Agnew is talking about the future of cricket for all,a little less sensitivity perhaps ?

  • 200.
  • At 04:21 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • neel wrote:

im indian but i have to agree with aggers that money has taken over the game.. however bucknor just had to go.. he made too many errors.. and that is just not on at this level.. and with age i do not blame him entirely for those errors.. so therefore he should retire and let a younger umpire take his place.

  • 201.
  • At 04:21 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Mahesh S. Panicker wrote:

Aggers.

I understand you are mostly a traditionalist on umpiring matters, and by and large go by the traditional school of umpiring mistakes getting evened out in the end. I said mostly, since regardless of my serious disagreement with your positions on many issues, I always read your write ups with interest. do you remember something you wrote the other day about Umpire Asad Rauf? about him giving the decisions too soon? well, there he got 2 decisions wrong, and both went against England, and one of them is an important reason a Draw becoming a loss, and as an England supporter who lives in India, I was also disappointed to see England lose that close match.

but, here the number of wrong decisions have been no less than 10, and that do not include LBWs. remember Sidy got a leg before call against him. of this 10, 9 went against India, and in 6 of them, the Umpire at the wrong end was Steve Bucknor. as a senior journalist, you might be aware of the not so good relation between Bucknor and the Indian team, and there are many instences where Bucknor has wronged India. from Bucknor's refusal to refer that Jonty runout in 1992, to Sachin Tendulkar's latest victimization in 05, the bad blood between SB and the Indians have been severe, and no other umpires have such problems. so to start with, Steve Bucknor do not have the confidence of the Indian players as well as the Indian public.

and by whatever logic, 9 clear mistakes against a team is not fairness or justice, and do not represent better standards of umpiring, and Steve Bucknor is accountable to the cricket watching public, and more importantly, the players in whom he should create confidence by his actions. he met neither of these, and his refusal to refer a stumping of Andrew Simonds is nothing short of hottiness, especially when one considers the fact that on the day before he made the mistake of the match when he gave the same man notout. Simonds patting Bucknor on the sholder in the field after Rahul Dravid's wrong dismissal would give absolutely the wrong signal to any rational opposition.

in such circumstance, there was no option for India other than pulling out of the tour, or getting the umpire replaced, and it is better that they got the tour back on track at least for the time being, by getting Bucknor off, and ensuring Justice to Harbhajan. Bhaji might have said something offencive to Simonds, but its hard to believe it just on the basis of Ponting or Simonds alone. racism as you said is a very serious issue, and to punish someone for that, you need strong evidence, which at the moment seems to be lacking. if there are telling evidence, then Harbhajan should be punished, but not on the words of the Australians, who are number one sledgers.

  • 202.
  • At 04:22 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Tom wrote:

In reply to Craig's post #2, i think Aggers has written a very fair article. if Harbhajan Singh did racially abuse Symonds then he should be punished, i think rascism is appaling and should not be tolerated anywhere. However as it stands it is one persons word vs another, so in any fair society the case would've sided with Mr Singh, as there is no hard evidence (unlike when Gibbs was caught on the stump microphone. Player testimonies cant be used, especially if they've already proved themselves to be benders of the truth (mr ponting and symonds....)

As for not walking, Yes there have been times when this has occured, but you dont get an english player saying to the press 'yeah i did edge it but didn't go cos the umpires got it wrong'
On your point of vigourous appealing, yes all teams do it, but not many CAPTIANS (again mr ponting, running theme here!!) raise their finger at the umpires to help get a decision, especially when a catch hasn't been made.
There would not have been this 'anti aussie' reaction if the austalian team was blameless, especially as discontent is now coming from their own supporters.

I hope the remainder of the tour continues without any more needless distractions, and keep writing your pieces with your continued high standard aggers

  • 203.
  • At 04:23 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • sukhy wrote:

I wholeheartedly agree with the above. But what i feel is necessary is an excellent 3rd umpire who is allowed to judge on ALL matters on the pitch.

This would take away in effect intimidation has on the field. Players would know that the decision can be made with all the evidence to hand and will therefore not try to con the umpire.

It may bring back the decision to walk when you are out!

Unfortunately even 3rd umpires can make mistakes but these are even more rare. (Symonds stumping!!)

  • 204.
  • At 04:24 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Foze wrote:

Am I wrong but doesn't the comment:

"Little wonder that, sometimes, a volatile character lashes out in what he would perceive as self-defence, and what does it say of these "hard" men that they then go and report him to the umpire?

They can give it, but can’t take it."

condone both the (alleged) racist comments and racism in cricket in general by saying 1. a player could be excused for making any racist comments if they are put under pressure by the opposition and 2. teams playing like Australia apparently do should ignore racist comments if directed at them?

Saying "That, of course, does not offer any defence for racism" is worthless after such a comment and tantamount to the old chestnut of "I'm not a racist, but...".

Can we put Mr. Agnew on trial to explain is comment here?

  • 205.
  • At 04:24 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • David wrote:

I completely agree with Craig,

don't for one second think that 90% of the players out there would walk if they knew they were out especially in the situation Symonds was in. Umpires are there for a reason and of course they can make mistakes from time to time but the onus shouldn't fall on the inegrity of the player to decide his or her fate. Whether you like it or not the final decision rests with the umpire, not the player!

It is unfortunate that so much hype has been created over this matter and I hope that India bounce back in the 3rd test to make it an exciting series! The are a great side with world class players and it would be good for the game to see Australia challenged on home soil!

Proud Aussie!

  • 206.
  • At 04:24 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Mike Hicks wrote:

" That of course does not offer any defence for racism, if Harbharjan Singh did racially abuse Symonds, he must be punished for it" - can't you read, Mr Thomas? Agnew is talking about the game in general and of standards worldwide. It just happens to have come to a head here.

I am still old school as a very lowly club cricketer and if I know I have nicked it, I walk. Surely when players are also umpiring as they do at club level then you have to take the pressure off a colleague? But whatever is done in Tests filters down and there are any number of youngsters these days who insist on forcing the issue.

To me, it's really sad when player power gets an umpire removed - the issue in this series is, as Agnew rightly states that the players have to take a good look at themselves and agree to behave properly, not get an umpire changed to achieve some (incorrect) sense of justice.

This situation is just going to repeat over and over if the players don't get a grip. To me in as an interested observer in what should be a great series, in this test the Aussies crossed a line they will do well to take a swift step back from.

  • 207.
  • At 04:25 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Dave Turner wrote:

Whilst for some reason I find it difficult to warm to Darrell Hair, I remember thinking at the time how the Pakistan team independantly decided that the umpires decison can be disregarded by downing tools. The ICC treated Hair shabbily and dressed the issue racial and this suited the Pakistan teams agenda.

The ICC has now given carte blanche to anyone who dislikes a cricketing decision the power to ignore umpires and match referees, and hold the boards to ransom. The ICC invited this.

Yes bad decisions were made in this game and if racist taunts were made then they should be addressed properley and players should be honest and respectful to each other.

This is what the boards should be encouraging and not worrying about political correctiness.

Do we really want cricket to go the way of football where players conning the referee is now alsomst accepted as part and parcel. Weak administration all over.

  • 208.
  • At 04:26 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Anjan Roy, Chicago, USA wrote:

I partly agree with Mr. Jinathan Agnew that the "umpires will always make mistakes too, just as the players do." It reminds me of Shakespeare's famous saying: "to err is human". But the question is when the umpires cross the limit. In the case of the recent Sydney test, why didn't the umpires take advantage of technology? They took the Australian crickers, especially Captain Ricky Ponting's words for granted at a very cruicial stage of the match, and made two vital decisions by way of giving Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly out. We saw these two outs over and over again on TV replays and found that in both these two cases the batsmen were not out. Then Australian Symond was clearly out, but he was given not out. In this case also the umpire did not take advantage of technology. All these three decisions went in favor of Australia. Then look at the role of the Australian players. They cheated, including Ricky Ponting. I watched on the TV a very enthusuastic Ricky Ponting pointing his index finger telling the umpire that Ganguly was out. The Australians wanted to win by fair means or foul. About Harbhajsn's alleged racial remarks, I would rather trust Tendulkar's testimony who was in the field than untrustworthy Australian cricketsrs. Sorry, Mr. Agnew, I am unable to thank Australia this time around for their win. They have cheated and killed the spirit of the game. This is not cricket.

  • 209.
  • At 04:26 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • George wrote:

I agree with the majority of what's been said, and it seems to me that this overheated situation is the result of not dealing with it years ago. It's been well known for years that sledging and intimidation goes on all the time in cricket (and not just by the Aussies), and the ICC has persistently ducked the issue - no pun intended.
It's easy to resolve it - turn the stump mikes on and leave them on. Players would know that anything they said would be broadcast, and it would quickly cut the sledging back down to the banter level.

  • 210.
  • At 04:26 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Jonathan Mason wrote:

Good column. In my opinion an insult is an insult, whether it be racist, sexual or what.

We saw what happened in the soccer World Cup final when Zidane responded to obnoxious banter by losing his temper and lashing out, which seems to be what happened here.

Symonds had boasted about successfully cheating in a way which, as it turns out, had almost certainly affected the result of the match and of the series. No wonder there was bad feeling against him.

The fact that there have been so many accusations of cheating of various kinds in recent years shows that top-level cricket is no longer being played in a sporting way.

Cricket authorities should ban sledging or attempts to unsettle opponents by verbal means. Microphones should be turned up so that players are held accountable to the paying public and TV audiences for anything they may say.

I played cricket for 30 years and never encountered the kind of verbal hostility that seems so common at the top level of the game. I would not have played for 30 years if I had.

Its not cricket.

Professional cricketers would do well to study the demeanour of their counterparts in the world of golf.

When playing a sport regularly starts to lead to international and racial bad feeling rather than communal spirit, then one asks larger questions like "what is the point of having cricket at all?"

Clearly this issue goes way beyond what one player said to Symonds, because now millions are joining in the debate and no one, least of all cricket itself is coming out of this well. Maybe it is time to burn a new set of stumps and places the ashes of sledging in a new urn, and let India and Australia play for them in the future in a sporting spirit.

  • 211.
  • At 04:27 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • John Hepworth wrote:

I do not agree with Mr Agnew often, but I have to say that he has hit the nail on the head here. Or should that be into the lid?

As we have seen with Premiership football, too much money has destroyed the "beautiful game" of cricket and the excellent standard and skills of the modern day cricketer are lost in the desire to win.

Strong leadership and aggressive cricket does not need cheating and intimidation.

And if the umpires do not have the capability, then for sure, drop them but in a way that mirrors that of those they are controlling.

Well done Jonathan.

  • 212.
  • At 04:28 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Vinod Sandanasamy wrote:

I understand that umpires do make mistakes once in a way, afterall they are humans, but in this test too many mistakes were made that also against key players. To understand the gravity of the mistakes just undo the mistakes and see for yourself what the outcome could have been. Instead of defending the system, Jonathan must accept the drawbacks (there are too many to list) of the present system and give suggestions to correct it. Change is long overdue, we are already in the 11th hour.

  • 213.
  • At 04:28 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Aston wrote:

Aggers, you have been bold yet brave. Excellent analysis. Thank you for not holding back, but saying it as it needs to be said. Thank you for expressing what so many true lovers of the game have long believed.

  • 214.
  • At 04:28 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Gavin Smith wrote:

Is not the point of playing sport to win? Gilchrist always walks but you made no mention of that! This smacks of envy. It is not the Australian's fault that they are so good. You didn't hear Pointing go on about the over the top and sickening celebrations and carry on that followed the 2005 Ashes. It is not as if Ricky fell off a Pedalo whilst drunk during a world cup! 16 wins is 16 wins. That will be remembered long after you have been forgotten. This “article” is a rant, not journalism! I dare you to come out and publicly call Ricky Pointing a cheat if this is what you are implying. If he has acted within the rules of the game then you have no case. When Monty wheels away with an over-the-top celebration after every wicket, you cheer. When Pointing celebrates 16 straight test wins there are calls for him to be sacked!

  • 215.
  • At 04:29 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • SR wrote:

BTW, Is it fair to punish someone when there is no proof? How can referee take the word of Symonds & Ponting but not Sachin? Neither umpires heard it, nor the microphones caught anything. If Singh had said that word, he should be punished, may be for 10 matches. But I am confused because I am not too sure if I should beleive Aussies.

  • 216.
  • At 04:29 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • londonNKM wrote:

Jonathan I respect your views and enjoy listening to your commentary. Although I agreed with portions of your article, especially regarding the behaviour of the Australians, I must disagree with other parts regarding the decision to remove Buckner from the next test.

In principle you are correct, it is not a good idea to remove umpires or other match officials at the behest of one team that looses a game. However if you had seen the Sydney test match then you would realize why the feeling is so strong against him and the other two as well. It is inconceivable that the Indian team would have played at Perth if Benson and Buckner were again officiating.

The standard of umpiring by all three (3rd umpire was probably the worst) was so appallingly bad that it was unbelievable. I am one who believes in respecting umpiring decisions and that overall they even themselves out. However, the Sydney test match was effectively won for Australia by the umpires. Little wonder that Clarke refused to walk in his second innings after being caught at 1st slip as he thought he stood a decent chance of getting away with it.

I would recommend that all three umpires be relieved from their duties and never be allowed to participate at this level again. I would go so far as to question not only the number of bad decisions but also the way they fell against one team. If you’re a bad umpire then you would expect the bad decisions to be consistent for both team … something that did not happen (expect for Ponting’s LBW).

Personally I would prefer the Indian team to cancel the rest of the tour and return home. Playing on only gives legitimacy to the Aussie victory in Sydney. If the ICC had any guts it would strike the match from the history books. Even so, it is very hard to see how any team could possibly be up for the remaining games given the current environment.

  • 217.
  • At 04:29 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Kiran wrote:

I agree that more than the umpires it is the players that need to be reined in. One can find instances of aggressive behaviour by almost all teams at some point or the other (Aussies are probably at the top currently), players not walking, etc. But the sledging culture is seriously damaging the spirit of cricket. Just like racial abuse, sledging should be dealt with disciplinary actions (microphones are an easy aid in this case).

Also, ICC should take advantage of the technology available and on-field umpires should be encouraged to refer to the third umpire in case of doubt.

Lastly, I would like the umpires on field be rotated with the third umpire so that same two blokes are not on the field all five days. That way they are less fatigued by the fifth afternoon and their decisions are, hopefully, less error prone.

  • 218.
  • At 04:30 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • clive wrote:

Anil Kumble speaking of sportmanship is just soo damn wierd and laughable, doesnt he remember the no of wickets he has taken at home with the help of so many wrong decisions . doesnt he remember the famous 10 wickets he took in an innings against pakistan.... guys we r not saints and must behave like human beings not saints.....
the whole issue stinks of double standards...........

  • 219.
  • At 04:31 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • David Harrison wrote:

Well said Jonathan,you are spot on.For too long degenerate behaviour has been passed off as "playing it hard".Cricket is danger of going down the football route where cheating, mouthing at officials and winning at all costs is the norm.Do any of these arrogant thugs realise how this looks on TV around the world and the message that they send to the young and impressionable.The aussies may be able to play cricket but the manner in which they conduct themselves leaves a really bad taste.

  • 220.
  • At 04:31 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Groenhoven wrote:

For once I don't agree with Aggers.

The mistakes in the decision making by the umpires gave in my mind Australia the victory. In England's last tour there were some terrible decisions at crucial moments as well. For me this is unacceptable. What's the point of playing the game if the umpires don't get the most important decisions right?
The standard of umpiring is not good enough and must improve.

As far as slating is concerned, why aren't the umpires intervening? The Australians should never be allowed to let it get to this in the first place.

  • 221.
  • At 04:32 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Thornogson wrote:

Well said, Aggers. I agree wholeheartedly. The walk/don't walk debate is an old one, but to actually gloat about fooling the umpire is some considerable way beyond the pale.

It starts to give a whole new and unwanted meaning to the term "it's just not cricket".... How dare you be so fair and honest with me, that's just not cricket.

Rant on Aggers, its a game worth ranting about

  • 222.
  • At 04:32 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Martin C wrote:

This whole sorry episode reminds me of the McGrath vs Sarwan spat in Antigua 2003 when McGrath, with typical Australian arrogance, sledged Sarwan but couldn't control himself when the West Indian insulted him back and duly 'spat his dummy out'. The Australians are great cricketers, but they're even more accomplished bullies who cant handle it when things don't go their way.

  • 223.
  • At 04:32 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Vivek Pereira wrote:

I cannot agree with the words "umpiring errors" that have been so wrongly used to describe the decisions made by Bucknor and Benson during the Sydney Test. These wrong decisions were made willfully and blatantly by these unfair human beings. I have never seen such poor excuses for umpires in more than 25 years of watching this great game. If not for these decisions, India would have won the match comfortably. The match, in my opinion, should be annulled. I was shocked out of my skin to observe Symonds being ruled not out at least three times in a single innings when he was clearly out in each instance. Even Jesse Owens won in Nazi Germany. As for Harbhajan's alleged racist behaviour, if "monkey" is a racist term, then what about banning similar words like "cat", "dog" and "crow."

  • 224.
  • At 04:33 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • DeanC wrote:

Interesting comments. Crossroads, I think not, and I doubt the legacy of a fine team will be tarnished just because the Indians are such poor losers.

The match was marred by poor umpiring, resulting with poor player behaviour from both sides, but it was also marred by excessive beat-up of all incidents by the print and electronic media, aided by interminable replays which umpires currently don't have access to. Does anyone remember that it was one of the most thrilling and absorbing Test matches for years, with some superb performances? Tendulkar, Laxman, Hussey, Hayden, Symonds, Clarke, Lee, Kumble were all brilliant. The Singh incidient probably could have been handled without the need for formal charge.
I do hope the Indians show up for the Perth test because, aside from their hypocritical attitudes, they are the easily best team to come here in the last 10 years.

  • 225.
  • At 04:33 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Chadders wrote:

Also, in a dream world, the ICC could bring in retrospective fines after a game if a player has been found guilty of unsporting behaviour such as: standing in the crease when he knows he's out (better to presume a batsman knows when he's edged a ball rather than where a batman genuinely doesn't know), or excessive appealing by bowlers. Start with a 5% fine on the first offence and work up to match bans.

But umpires need performance-based evaluation too. Bucknor shouldn't be expecting a Christmas bonus for that display, from what I hear.

On the racism front - this needs to be stamped out ASAP, and there is no excuse for it, if Harbajan is found guilty. There can be no cultural excuse, and to be fair, I don't think the Indian players would hide behind that; they know racist language is ugly and those guilty of it should be punished.

Rather than turning down the stump mic, I think every player should have a mic fitted to them, and then their kids can listen to the sort of stuff daddy says in public! See if that changes their behaviour.

  • 226.
  • At 04:34 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Adam wrote:

Aggers, this this the best article I've ever read. I hope to God that those in power take notice.

  • 227.
  • At 04:34 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Zack wrote:

Jon, I think you are missing the bigger picture. Like most Indians,
I am convinced that racism is endemic
in cricket, and that teams from white
countries get far more than their
share of marginal calls. While I am
willing to concede that this may be
not be true, because of my life
experiences there is probably nothing that you or anyone else
could say that would convince me otherwise. The Indian reaction to the
Harbhajan incident must be understood in this larger context.

However, there is in fact a possible
solution. There has recently been a study in NBA basketball of the effect of a player's race on how
the the game is called by the
officiating crew.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/02/sports/basketball/02refs.html

It concluded that race is indeed a
factor, although not significant
except in very close games. Why
can't the ICC, which appears to have far more money than it needs, commission
an independent study to examine the effect of a team's or player's race on umpiring decisions
in cricket? This would go a lot
further in convincing people one way
or another about racism in cricket
than any rubbish about decisions
averaging out over time. I've been
watching cricket for over 20 years
and never seen the slightest evidence of that.


  • 228.
  • At 04:35 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Brian wrote:

Time to give umpires the power to send players off for unsporting or offensive behaviour. Once the players start behaving like footballers it's time to start treating them like footballers.

  • 229.
  • At 04:35 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • andrew jack wrote:

One of the more sensible articles i've read on this. the sportsmanship seems to be rapidly disappearing from the game. the aussies are not the only ones who are to blame it seems to be seeping into every part of the game. we have our own players who refuse to walk ( Strauss for example ) and i wonder what message this is sending out to our younger players. do we really have to go down the same road as footie ? where players berate the referee constantly. with the influx of all the money that is pouring into cricket i fear that , that is the priority and not the ethics of the game that once seemed so important. time for icc to show its teeth.

  • 230.
  • At 04:36 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Mia wrote:

I don't think some of these people who made these comments actually watched the match! Anyone who watched the 2nd Test at Sydney can see there were numerous blunders made by the umpires (mostly by Bucknor but also by Benson, who improved slightly towards the end) and the quite blatant desire on their part for Australia to win their 16th Test in a row.
Jonathan, it would be nice of you to remember the England-India series last summer as well as mentioning Sreesanth for his loudness/brashness - last summer when India came over they put jelly beans on the pitch, made comments which were picked up from the pitch phone (Kevin P "I drive a Porsche-- what car do you drive?") as well when it comes to gamesmanship. They riled India, including Flintoff in the 20/20 match where he came over and made comment to Yuvraj Singh but they have never been punished. Sreesanth pushed past Vaughan in anger and he got fined. Double standards!

They also received several bad decisions. This time round India received so many I was beginning to lose count and Australia received a couple of bad ones. If this had happened to any other team they would also feel as upset and angry as India feel and they would react in the same way.

I have to disagree with your article regarding the players are the problem not the umpires. Very few players walk, even the ones that claim to must have not done so at some point during their careers.
There are two issues at stake here
1) The Umpiring
which was terrible, to India's detriment
2) "Alleged" Racism
which should be duly punished if so but for years teams have not reported the abuse they have received (particularly those of the subcontinent) so to hold up Harbajan Singh in regard to comment he may or may not have made (it is only one batsman's word against another) and to find him guilty is appalling. To compare the incident to Darren Lehmann, Hershelle Gibbs etc is unfair as those were actually proven as they were heard/recorded.
To conclude, the Australians are an excellent team and Symonds in particular is truly brilliant. Of course we all recognise they are the best team in the world, and watching the 1st test in Melbourne they destroyed India comprehensively. However, India fought back courageously in the 2nd Test but any hopes they had of winning or drawing was taken away by the umpiring.
I do urge anyone who is making comments who didn't watch the match in its entirety live should reserve
their judgement!

  • 231.
  • At 04:36 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Ian Botham wrote:

I agree with everything in the article Aggers - superb stuff - God I hate the Aussies! - But Harbajhan Singh is also a muppet for saying 'monkey'and should be banned...

  • 232.
  • At 04:37 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Tony wrote:

Reading this blog, I found myself having to check the URL and author to verify that this indeed was your own writing Jonathan and not an impersonator. I scarcely believe it even now. Writing "they can give it, but can't take it" followed immediately by stating that racism must be punished is nonsensical to me. I think it should be reported and brought into the open by all teams, which I presume is not what you mean by "taking it". Also, I didn't see Symonds gloating after his lucky escape, but I don't think it affects the umpire's confidence or players confidence in the umpire. I think these statements detract form your other legitimate arguments.

  • 233.
  • At 04:37 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Rich Davis wrote:

If I have understood correctly, Ricky Ponting has reported racial abuse purely on being told of it by Symmonds. Nobody else has heard such comments being made.I presume the two involved individuals were not solated at the time. If Mike Proctor finds Harbhajan guilty purely on the word of Symmonds and heresay, what does this say about his view of Indian integrity? and where is the justice in accfepting uncorroborated testimony. Also by pure coincidence they report a bowler who gets Ponting out for fun and with hardly any effort. The whole racist complaint has a strange smell to me.

  • 234.
  • At 04:38 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Adam wrote:

Mr. Agnew it seems like you forgot your MANTRA of "Umpires need to take time over decisions" Dec 5, 2007.

I think you didnt even question the approach of consulting Ricky Ponting THE FIFTH Umpire instead of consulting on field umpire, or third or fourth umpire.

I alway read your reports with great interest and always saw you a true ambassador of the game and good journalist but it seems like you also have your drunk part when you forget about truth and write excuses if English side lose or find excuses when Mark Benson officiate like US ambassodor in the UN.

  • 235.
  • At 04:38 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Tim Jarvis wrote:

This is not a question of Aussie bashing Craig. Mr Agnew also suggests that the Indians have been out of order in pressing for a change of umpire. I am afraid that you cannot simply dismiss his points because he is English. Had you read the newspapers in Sydney you would have seen that sections of the Australian press are asking the same questions. Regarding Andrew Symonds I agree with you entirley which is why I know that you will be delighted that Brad Hogg is now also facing similar charges to those of Harbhajan Singh.

  • 236.
  • At 04:39 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • m price wrote:

It is a sad day when human error is punished with banishment. the persons who have sent Bucknor packing are short sighted and obviously never made a mistake in their lives. what about Symonds why not banish him. Both he and Ponting knew that they were out yet none of them walked, are they being punsihed or villified. nothing wrong with winning but do it within the spirit of the game. Adam Gilchrist would have walked had he been in either Ponting's or Symonds' shoes, so all the Aussies are not bad.The other umpire also missed a call but he remains, let's be fair here the poor umpires are only human.

  • 237.
  • At 04:39 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Nik wrote:

The players making the mistake are punished (they loose the game and if they do it often enough, their place in the side). What punishment do we see for umpires? The mistakes that they make affects someone else.. the playing team and the paying public. Thats why their mistakes should be minimal if not zero (which is not possible ofcourse). If it takes a powerful cricketing nation to boot off incompetent (Bucknor) or arrogant (Hair) umpires off the panel then so be it. It can only be for the betterment of the game.

  • 238.
  • At 04:40 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • martin young wrote:

This sport like most others is run by and for the benefit of big business who provide sponsorship and because of the positions of power it provides for the administrators. The only way to change what is happening is to target the sponsors in a way that hurts their products because then they will either apply the pressure for change or withdraw. Therefore providing its own pressure for change. I no longer watch cricket because it is no longer the game I have loved for over forty years.

  • 239.
  • At 04:40 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • robin wrote:

90% correct aggers!you need to watch bucknor's performance to make a judgement. in the last 5 years , he has made sure that the indians haven't progressed. last series..series 1-1 and the last day..3 plumb lbws not given and australia save the series. dont believe me? it's on tape!
before the series started , i predicted a possible indian win..once i realised that bucknor was umpiring..i changed my mind.
also, ricky ponting claimed the catch of dhoni whilst the ball was grounded..it's on tape!michael clarke catches ganguly and grounds the ball..benson asks ponting ( as you do)..and he says out!! great!
weak umpiring..bad sportsmanship and i hope india return home..

  • 240.
  • At 04:41 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Stan wrote:

Well done Aggers etc etc

Just wanted to point out a remarkable grammtical oddity in the article: "How dare the game be held to ransom in this way."

You have somehow managed to contrive a sentence in which the the object of the passive verb - "the game" nonetheless bears the responsibility for the action attributed to the implied subject (presumably rogue cricket boards)! Sort of like blaming a kidnapping victim: How dare it be held to ransom! How dare the game indeed!

Who is doing the holding? And who is doing the editing at the BBC these days? :)

  • 241.
  • At 04:41 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • MostlyOrganic wrote:

Is this the time to bring in the benefits of technology? If appeals for catches, and runouts were automatically referred to the third umpire there would be no benefit to the players in applying pressure. I believe the brief low down to play would do less harm to the game the antics of all the major international teams now. I have more reservations about lbw decisions as I am not convinced that Hawkeye is more reliable that an umpire just because it has the pretty computer graphics.

  • 242.
  • At 04:41 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Sam wrote:

Jonathan,
You are missing the MAIN point of the whole issue. Harbhajan got accused for making racist remarks by Ponting to the umpires. Ponting did not hear it but he went by his teammates words. That is perfectly fine. Umpires reported to Refree - that's also PERFECTLY fine. NOW, in hearing, NO EVIDENCE is there to support that 'Bhajji' really said that. This is a very big charge - effectively calling 'Bhajji' a racist. The match refree took such a huge decision based on words - yes just words - from Aussies and out of 4 present, Gilly and Ponting did not hear anything! So he took word of Hayden against Tendulkar and decided that what aussies said was true. Again, NO EVIDENCE. How can you tranish someone's name for such a big charge without any significant evidence? How can such a high profile refree say that he likes what Aussies say and not what Indians say? How can such a big ruling be done based on word of one against word of another without support of no evidence? THAT, my friend, THAT, is the real issue.

  • 243.
  • At 04:42 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • jonty wrote:

The whole episode has opened up a long overdue debate on a number of points...sledging, umpire decisions, fair play, sportsmanship and more.

I wonder if the incident involving Singh would have escalated to this point if Mike Proctor had taken a different decision.

Was the previous decision taken about the incident on Boxing Day in the back of Mike Proctor's mind? He has admitted his decision then was probably wrong.

  • 244.
  • At 04:43 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Umpire Mark wrote:


Aggers, as ever, speaks complete sense.

Twice now, highly respected and very competent umpires have been removed because of player power. This has created a precedent for any team in the future to have an umpire removed, because they fear he may be biased, or prone to mistakes.

The game will quickly descend into farce unless those running the game get a grip, and stand firmly against bully-boy players such as Ponting and many of his fellow Australians.

I take Aggers point that it is not just Australians who are trampling over the Spirit of the Game, but it falls to the players themselves, and their respective captains, to decide that no matter how the opposition may choose to play, the game of cricket deserves the respect of the players and they should behave properly.

Faced with this opposition, it will soon become obvious who the villains are, and they can hopefully be routed out and summarily dispatched into the long grass.

I believe there are enough true believers in the game to allow us to weather these difficult times, but we must stand firm.

Its a shame that a team and a captain with so much talent will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

  • 245.
  • At 04:43 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Anonymous wrote:

My only issue with these articles is that they falseley imply that Australia is the ONLY team in the world who sledges, doesnt walk, appeals dubiously etc.

This simply isnt the case, and this talk that Pontings men are single handedly responsible for destroying the spirit of cricket is about as accurate as my bowling (which is rubbish). His mention of Sreesanth as a similar offender stunned me - I really enjoy his aggressive attitude on the pitch and have heard many - commentators, players etc praising him for this....all of a sudden this incident kicks off and rather then being young and plucky he is according to Agnew an haibtual line crosser.

I enjoy most of Mr Agnews articles - even those critical of Australia - but this one seems just a wee bit biased to me.

Enough of the Aussie bashing - Its getting very tiresome, and im struggling not to respond in kind with an equally biased anti - English/Everybody else post where i make similar remarks about Englands 'spirit' ....for example the Pratt incident, Ashes 05....which although legal, is the exact same sort of thing Agnew is battering the Aussies for....so lay off guys...

And to address the articles title - after what has happened this morning i would say POLITICS in cricket is the real problem and the lack of an administrative body with spine. A strong ICC is what is needed - there is no point adressing player behaviour without this most vital of ingrediants.


  • 246.
  • At 04:44 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Peter wrote:

Nice article, Mr. A.
My gripe, though....
I do think it might have been a good idea to 'rest' Bucknor instead of announcing that he would officiate in the 3rd test - he evidently had a nightmare of a game and is not in top form, and all indications where that India would find his appearance so soon rather hard to swallow. I do not consider that as 'bowing to pressure' but taking steps to ease the situation. If a player had performed like that the manager would consider resting him - not for ever, but until he is ready again. Umpiring may look easy, but I should imagine it can be very stressfull and evidently it requires a lot of concentration over long periods of time. The application of common sense seems to be sadly lacking.

  • 247.
  • At 04:44 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Sri wrote:

Sreesanth should be dropped till his behavior improves. Otherwise, he might trigger another crisis just like this one.

  • 248.
  • At 04:44 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Howard Wood wrote:

Aggers has a point of course but let us not forget that sledging is nothing new and not confined to Test cricket. I remember being at the receiving end in Bolton League cricket some 40 years ago as a youngster.Similarly there never was a "golden age " when every batsmen walked and fielders honestly acknowledged whether a catch was good or not. However, the intense commercialisation of the game and the all-seeing camera has meant that it is now much more in the public`s eye. I`m afraid that it will be very difficult to restrain the players when so much is at stake and that ,in my opinion, it is only by the increased use of technology for adjudication that we will be able to dampen some of the vitriol that surrounds controversial decisions and fuels the inevitable rows.

  • 249.
  • At 04:44 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Sam wrote:

Playing in the "spirit of the game" and sportsmanlike is exactly why England do so badly in many sports. Ok there are points at which you have to draw the line but one thing always annoyed me about playing cricket in England - no one plays all out to win. Any thought of niceness above winning means that someone, sometime will come and walk all over you which seems to happen regularly with England teams!! I gave up village cricket because of the, in my opinion, pathetic attitude....

  • 250.
  • At 04:45 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • David wrote:

Superb article Aggers.

And before Indian and Australian supporters alike attack it, I suggest they stop and consider a moment of introspection and self-reflection.

The fact others have made mistakes or acted badly does not excuse their own unsporting bullying attitudes (Aus) / racist remarks (India).


It is easy to point at the other side and bleat that they started it. It is much harder, but more more valuable, to consider whether one's own behaviour is good for oneself and good for one's sport.

  • 251.
  • At 04:45 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Pete wrote:

Well said Aggers. Although no nation is beyond reproach, it is the arrogant Aussies who are the worst culprits - I think Gilchrist was another 'squealer' who ran to teacher as soon as someone gave some stick back.
Cricket should be played hard and fair. If players can't be trusted to do that, then maybe decisions should be taken out of their hands and snicks/fair catches brought under a controlled referral system.
I actually thought the 'Jellybeangate' affair was very funny - this sort of stuff has been going on for decades at local & county level.
So it makes me laugh when we have episodes like Ponting complaining after his 2005 Ashes run-out... as you say if you dish it out, you've got to take it.
Although banter has always rightly been part of the game, for decades everyone knows who's been most responsible for elevating this to sledging & abuse - anyone remember Ian Chappell, Merv Hughes' exchanges with Atherton and Robin Smith, "Mental disintegration" - Steve Waugh, etc, etc?
The thing is, with their natural talent & will-to-win, the Aussies don't need to go over the top.

  • 252.
  • At 04:45 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Stuart wrote:

Very good read, and i must agree totally.

I myself are from the West Indies, and feel slightly agrieved about what has happened to steve bucknor.

This is because growing up i always found him to be a very fair umpire. There is no denying he had a poor game, but just because it is India, and it was such a big test match doesn't mean he has to be criminalized and labeled as "incompetent".

As for Australia's conduct, well whats new? They have agreived many in the West Indies and other nations all around the world, and just as Jonathon said, while chasing a record victory India should have expected the horrible nature in which they play the game would have come to the fore. Having said that is doesn't make it right.

  • 253.
  • At 04:46 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Sri wrote:

Sreesanth should be dropped till his behavior improves. Otherwise, he might trigger another crisis just like this one.

  • 254.
  • At 04:46 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Sumit Kanwar wrote:

A good article in deed. No sport is played in a vacuum nor is Cricket. As a captain of a country, the individual has to be aware of what he is getting into. What Australian's did was bad, but how Ponting is defending is worse. What India got was a raw deal but threatening to leave is extreme. There are justifacations by both Ponting to behave so, and by BCCI to behave so. Firstly, Ponting doesn't know any other way of playing his cricket, wrong as it may be, crude as it may be, cherished for its achievements as it may be, it is certainly not a gentleman's way of playing it, and certainly can't be befitting for a any captain of a country to conduct themselves like Ponting as done. India is bullying ICC , using its wealth but ICC isn't know to swing into action quickly. Infact it sits on things, till it threatens its bottom line, which is the rupees that flow from BCCI. It's the first time this has come to the fore. Its only India that can hold Cricket Australia accountable via bullying ICC. Wrong approach but its done for achieving the right result.

  • 255.
  • At 04:46 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • bill wrote:

Agree amost entirely but Bucknor has lost it in the last few years and should have been retired earlier.
Also wich is worse - calling someone a monkey or makinmg sexually gratitious remarks about opposition players wives. Anyone going to cricket dinners will know that the latter is one of the many normal aspects of sledging. My view - both should be outlawed. If so the entire Aussie team would be banned and the rest of the world could lose to the second team.

  • 256.
  • At 04:46 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Bill Phillips wrote:

Well said Aggers. We don't want to see cricket dragged down to the level of football. We seem to be sliding into a culture that it is ok to cheat, because winning is all that matters. It is not just Australia and it is not just in cricket. But wouldn't it be good for Cricket to re-establish itself so that in any walk of life doing the dishonourable thing was "simply not cricket"

Well I can dream!

  • 257.
  • At 04:47 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Lucian Wijesinghe wrote:

As a cricket commentator myself, I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Jonathan in the past & would like to compliment him on his very good analysis of the situation. However, there is one exception. In my opinion, Jonathan's comment that "umpires will always make mistakes" though correct per se, is far too kind to the two umpires on this particular occasion. I would suggest that they were not simple mistakes, but were horrendously basic errors with catastrophic consequences against one side (India) & highly favourable to the other side (Australia). Let me explain - a)when Australia were 130 odd for 6 wickets, Symonds was ruled not out by Bucknor despite a loud snick being heard by all except Bucknor. Symonds, who was on 30 at the time, when on to score 160 odd. A 7th wicket at that stage, could have made a tremendous difference to the final outcome of this match. b)Dravid was given out by Bucknor, when the ball clearly nicked his pad, with the bat well away from the ball. Again, this very bad error could have made a tremendous difference to the final outcome of this match. Benson too, who was clearly unsighted at the time, was guilty of a basic error, when instead of referring the appeal to the 3rd umpire, he decided to accept Ponting's word that Clarke's "catch" off Ganguly was cleanly taken. Ganguly was batting comfortably at the time. Each one of these three very bad errors were made at critical junctures of the match & all of them were in favour of Australia. I therefore question the notion that these could be dismissed as mere "mistakes". I have watched & commentated on cricket over many years, but this is the first time that I have witnessed incompetence on this scale by umpires, where the cumulative effect of their errors resulted in one team being so blatantly disadvantaged in favour of the other. Given the importance & tight situation of this match, this is incompetence on a seismic scale, which experienced umpires should never be guilty of.

  • 258.
  • At 04:47 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Big S wrote:

Anybody who saw the test match can see that Bucknor has become totally incompetant as an umpire. He literally gifted the win to Australia.

India apparently have agreed to continue with the series but whats the use, they have lost the series because of some horrible horrible decisions against them.

I say this watching the game as a neutral, if I was an Indian supporter I would be livid.Its time for Bucknor to either retire and give a statement as to why it made such decisions as they were all one-sided

  • 259.
  • At 04:47 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • suchisam wrote:

Of course Mr Agnew makes a fair point about the excess of sledging - and not only Australian players are to blame.

It could also be argued that national associations should require players representing their country not to make false claims, and should conduct an inquiry into Symonds and other claims in this last test.

As to the case in point, the treatment meeted out to Symonds in India was shameful and the home tieam should have been fined - as happens in soccer. Singh's remarks are unacceptable and should be penalised harshly. Having watched him play several teams I am not surprised he was caught out this time - his demeanour on the pitch this time is not very nice.

And of course we should have greater resort to the instant replay technology. It will not solve everything but it is silly to reject a valuable tool.

  • 260.
  • At 04:47 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Tim Jarvis wrote:

This is not a question of Aussie bashing Craig. Mr Agnew also suggests that the Indians have been out of order in pressing for a change of umpire. I am afraid that you cannot simply dismiss his points because he is English. Had you read the newspapers in Sydney you will see that sections of the Australian press are asking the same questions. Regarding Andrew Symonds I agree with you entirley which is why I know that you will be delighted that Brad Hogg is now also facing similar charges to those of Harbhajan Singh.

  • 261.
  • At 04:47 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Brian wrote:

I agree with Aggers that much of the responsibility must rest with the players. If umpires could trust in the honesty of the players there would be far fewer miscarriages of justice.
I am personally greatly saddened by the general acceptance of what I consider to be cheating as evidenced by players not walking when they know that they have nicked a delivery. It seems that nobody (neither fellow players or commentators) is prepared to criticise a player under these circumstances. It is apparently considered to be 'part of the game'.
What does greatly concern me, as a recreational cricketer, is that this acceptance of cheating percolates down to all levels of the game whereby young players see nothing wrong in not walking as they see the top players doing it all the time. They won't necessarily differentiate the fact that they are being umpired by teammates rather than 'top profesional umpires'!
A radical solution, but how about an automatic one match ban if the technology can prove that a player nicked a ball but did not walk. That might encourage the return of honesty!

  • 262.
  • At 04:48 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Steve Rigby wrote:

A very good article Aggers. Having watched a lot more test cricket over the last 3 years I have noticed a terrible decline in the standards of behaviour by 1st class cricketers.Cricket should be played hard as it always has been but sportsmanship has been replaced with a win at all cost attitude that truly stinks. I always used to admire a player who would walk but that kind of sporting behaviour is a dim and distant memory. Cricket needs a new broom to sweep it clean again!

  • 263.
  • At 04:49 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Jan van Ginkel wrote:

Symonds shouldn't have gloated about it, but NO Englishman, South African or Indian would have walked! So let's not get carried away. Agnew has commented on Gilchrist's walking before the umpire's decision and has explicitly noted that you can NOT expect players to do so. Sometimes the decision is in your favour, sometimes not. Unless you demand ALL players to play according to G.'s rules, you can not fault S. in this. Ponting does have to answer the question whether HE was always fair and honest. THAT is the Australian problem of this tour .. and that's serious enough and shouldn't be distracted from by jumping on a bandwagon.

  • 264.
  • At 04:49 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • davo wrote:

I live in Australia, call myself Australian.

I have become every more repulsed by this recent Australian Cricket Team. It started during the 2005 ashes and has grown.

Ponting's catch, the not walking are blatant cheating, let alone the other antics.

I am sick of Ponting crying about others when his team behave so, with him seemingly the ring leader.

Dave

  • 265.
  • At 04:49 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Alexander Wolverhampton wrote:

I would like to agree with Rakesh Patel (50). It is time the Aussies stopped escaping punishment. Ponting may be a great batsman (No Lara or Tendulkar) but he is a very bad human being.

  • 266.
  • At 04:50 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Stan wrote:

Well done Aggers etc etc

Just wanted to point out a remarkable grammatical oddity in the article: "How dare the game be held to ransom in this way."

You have somehow managed to contrive a sentence in which the the object of the passive verb - "the game" nonetheless bears the responsibility for the action attributed to the implied subject (presumably rogue cricket boards)! Sort of like blaming a kidnapping victim: How dare it be held to ransom! How dare the game indeed!

  • 267.
  • At 04:51 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • LawrenceMills wrote:


Money ruins sport, it becomes essential to win to satisfy TV company's, Sponsors etc etc.

Money ruined Football, or Soccer to any Aussie's reading, and it will ruin Cricket.

Australia are no saints and may well be the worst for trampling the spirit of the game, but everyone, including us English is very very guilty, anyone remember jelly-bean gate? Andrew Symonds should have used that funny grey squishy thing between his ears before opening his trap about being caught on 30, in this day and age who really expects a player to walk if not given out? Because if you do you are going to be on the forums moaning after every match, Cricket isn't like that anymore, and in all honesty I wonder if it ever was, WG Grace never walked after the umpire had given him out, let alone before! And has anyone here heard of "bodyline"? Symonds offence lies in being thick enough to tell everyone he cheated. It's this perceived injustice as much as the "alleged" racist slur and ensuing ban which has irked the Indian team.

The various shouts about catches that had grounded and batsmen who should have walked however pale in comparison to the charges of racist abuse, if Singh did indeed call Symonds a monkey, and I don't for one minute believe this rubbish about the word monkey not being a racist insult if said by an Indian. Then in my opinion the ban he has been given is not nearly long enough. That being said I fail to see how he can be charged without any evidence. Ponting's word is worth nothing as he has shown he isn't always completely honest, you can’t have it both ways Ricky! and in the absence of any testimony from the umps, or recordings from the stump mics, the charges should never have been brought. It's just the word of Ponting, Symonds and Clarke against Singh, Kumble and Tendulkar.

On a different note, the counter accusations by the Indian team about Hogg are bloody ridiculous, the two Captains should be hauled in front of the ICC, Ponting should be told to tone it down a bit and get a grip on the sledging from his boys, and Kumble should be told to get over it, shut up and get on with playing cricket. They are supposed to be senior statesmen for the game, and they are acting like spoilt brats, albeit multimillionaire spoilt brats.

And whats this rubbish about burning effigies of the umpires in Calcutta, absolutely disgusting! Trying to insinuate that an umpire should be burned for bad decisions is worse than any silly childish sledging, for gods sake are we completely losing our minds? It's a game!!!

I think what needed is a reality check here, nothing more.

So no more Aussie bashing please, they play the game to the letter of the law, which an option open to every team.

  • 268.
  • At 04:51 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Ray wrote:

I think that the players and the umpires are both to blame for this. Had the umpire had a good match it would have been ok, had the game been played in the right spirit it would have been fine, but together the combination is deadly!

I personally think the only way round this is for their to be a review of an umpires performance after every match (replacing him if needed) and that a proper complaints process should be in place with players punished for mouthing to the media. Players behaviour should also be reviewed and if a player is found to have got away with conning the umpire he should be unable to play in the next match but forced to be picked so that 1 team is a player down. These things together would soon sort this problem out!

  • 269.
  • At 04:51 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Charlie Anstey wrote:

Aggers, I will be posting a transcript of your comments on our club notice board for the forthcoming season. At our club we have fought hard to create a culture in which the ability to play hard without disrespecting, or worse still, hating the opposition, is seen as the way the game should be played.

This is a sad example which has been set by international cricket, and it makes the job of keeping club cricket healthy all the harder. Last year we feared that some junior cricketers would give up the game rather than be subjected to taunts and abuse. It must not be allowed, let alone praised, as it has sometimes been by some pundits, as "part and parcel of the game."

  • 270.
  • At 04:51 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Bob wrote:

A very true and fair article by Jon Agnew. It must be said the Aussies do play it hard and that is why they have the record of consecutive test wins. However, it must also be said that they have always considered sledging and not walking when out(Gilchrist excepted) to be an acceptable part of the game and they also consider themselves the best at it. So it does leave a "bitter" taste when 1) Symonds doesn't walk 2) gloats to the press about it and 3) Gets the skipper to complain about sledging. The one who cheated the most is Symonds not just the umpires but in the main himself, knowing that he actually only got 30 runs. Maybe he knew he needed a score to keep his place in the side!!
The ICC - "gutless". "We have not bowed to pressure"! No of course not Mr Speed, he stated both umpires were poor. Then why only replace Mr Bucknor? simple India only complained about Mr Bucknor.And why was Mike Proctor replaced, did India complain about him too.
As for Harbajan, if he was racist then throw the "book" however my prediction is the appeal will be heard after the Perth test, therefore allowing him to play and his ban will be suspended.
What next, not playing against a team because someone is in a rich vein of form!!
Get on with it

  • 271.
  • At 04:52 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • ford wrote:

Agnew has got most of it right.

1.If Harbhajan has made a racial jibe, then he should be punished. However it is a case of he said she said and without enough evidence its tough to digest the verdict. This opens pandora's box... because of the "vast cultural differences" any "mental disintigration" will now be reported. Symonds has a right to be upset if abused with a racial slur, but harbhajan will have to live with the tag forever even if the verdict is reversed.

2.Australia definitely need to tone down the sledging or learn to accept some in return. It is easy to provoke a hot head like harbhajan, and especially if the player is symonds, since he just gloated over how the umpires got it wrong and he stood his ground and turned the match around.
I agree that the umpires can make errors, sometimes blatant, and every side has had some in their favour, but i haven't heard anyone brag about these to the press. I definitely think the aussies were about to be humbled and could not cop it.

3.BCCI erred in asking for Bucknor's skin (although, my personal belief is that bucknor is narcoleptic ;-)). It should have pressed the harbhajan issue and let the ICC take the decision to remedy the poor umpiring standards at SCG. By doing the above, BCCI would not have been accused of flexing their muscle and would have got the desired result also.

  • 272.
  • At 04:52 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Brad wrote:

Ricky must be sacked, if not he has to come with an shamefull face to ask sorry for the entire genuine Indian team, Bret Lee is another plastic hero with his fluke wickets.

Shane Brad,
Tasmania.

  • 273.
  • At 04:53 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Frank Butcher wrote:

All are at fault, no doubt we are at fault too. Those least at fault though are the umpires. The umpires on the field should be the ones who call the shots. Any move to disable their authority is disastrous. A 'bad decision' by an umpire is as much part of the game as a bad defensive shot or a bad bit of fielding. There are normally 15 people on a pitch the umpires are the two that adjudicate. Some umpires will have a bad game, some players will get a string of tough calls(I seem to remember that Nasser Hussain had a rough period), the whole point of the game is that one takes it like a gentleman and then you put it behind you. The problems started as soon as technology was brought it, and then third umpires, this has undermined the 1st and 2nd umpires. Snick-o-meters, ultra-slow-motion, microphones, stump cameras et cetera; no doubt inevitable, but nothing more than telly pleasing toys which will ultimately destroy cricket. As for banter/racism on the pitch; again this is for the umpires to rule on, on the spot (a red card might be handy here, a sending off in cricket could be very costly). Its the money that does it.

  • 274.
  • At 04:55 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Venkat wrote:

Excellent synopsis, Jonathan.

Australia was as graceless in winning as India was churlish in losing.

The Australians have always played their cricket hard. But, there is a difference - Steve Waugh's team was tough; Ponting's team is petulant.

Harbhajan is no saint either. His celebration on taking Ponting's wicket was to say the least, childish.

Bucknor, who has been such a fine umpire has been undone by the circumstances.

  • 275.
  • At 04:56 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Darren wrote:

During the Rugby Union World Cup the Australians complained that England were setting out their stall to play a "dirty" game in the quarter-final match.

Funny how when the tables are turned unsportsman-like behaviour is suddenly condonable.

Andrew Symonds gloating flys in the face of fair play. He should be punished not Harbhajan Singh.

  • 276.
  • At 04:56 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Edward wrote:

Agnew has combined three important points to make a good article but the questions of racism and players' bad behaviour obscure the main point.
Racism can never be tolerated, and the main surprise is that the guilty party was Harbijan Singh, who has always struck me as the least aggressive in the Indian team.
Players do behave badly and are unsportsmanlike but it is not confined to Australia. They started the trend and they are by far the worst but no team is spotless.
By bringing in these points Agnew weakens his main point - that umpires' authority must not be undermined. They have by far the most difficult job in cricket, there are precious few of them and to have the cricket authorities undermining them is appalling. Dress them down in private by all means but never in public and stop this humiliating trend of announcing that they have been dropped for future tests. Cricked can learn from Rugby and the public support given to Wayne Barnes after his hideous error in the Rugby World Cup (for non-egg-heads, he missed a crucial forward pass). I'm sure he got some stick behind the scenes but he was fully supported by the authorities.
How sad that cricket should be losing the moral high ground to rugby.

  • 277.
  • At 04:57 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Mark Lane wrote:

The first bit of good sense I've heard talked about the issues arising out of this amazing Test Match. However, I have to say Bucknor has been bordering on the incompetent for some years now and should be nowhere near international cricket in my view.

  • 278.
  • At 04:57 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • TonyP wrote:

As an Australian I am disappointed that Jonathan's remarks are so stunningly accurate. It pains me that our national team behaves as though winning were the only thing & opponents are roadblocks to be crushed & brushed aside rather than worthy adversaries whose efforts are to be appreciated. One of the more damning symptoms is that Ricky Ponting routinely refuses to acknowledge the opposition's achievements, restricting his comments to the Australians & how they played.

I think the umpires should be more autonomous & not subject to interference from the ICC. Players have an organisation to stick up for their rights, why don't umpires? The idea of threatening to boycott a given official is quite simply ludicrous. Try getting away with that in football.

  • 279.
  • At 04:59 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Rory wrote:

Outstanding piece Aggers - when winning becomes more important than playing the game to the best of one's ability and in the right spirit, I'd rather not watch. It's up to the vast majority of players out there to rise above this nonsense and not fall to the level of the rabid few.
Thanks for calling it as it truly is and challenging those who fob off their responsibilities as ambassadors for the world's greatest sport to anyone and everyone else.
Keep up the good work...

  • 280.
  • At 05:02 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Roger wrote:

Jonathan Agnews comments are clearly made by someone who watches considerably more cricket than most of us and who, by the nature of his role, is closer to players of all nationalities than most of us.
I applaud his frankness and his opinions on this matter. Is this an end to BBC fence sitting?

I have always appreciated Australian cricket and their ability to dig deep when in a dire position (136-7). Somehow they always find a 'hero' or two who produces a matching winning performance. However my admiration is considerably diminished when I am made aware of the circumstances in which those performances were made. I don't have Sky TV so I rely on old fashion reporting!!

I disagree with Craig Thomas's view that Mr Agnew glossed over the racial abuse that is alledged. I certainly did not form that opinion. What the article explained was the atmosphere that exists on the field of play which explains (without condoning) why players vent their frustration in such a manner. Perhaps we should be made aware of what Australian fielders had discussed as they settled down in their slip cordon. I bet it wasn't Christmas presents.

The fact of the matter is that all teams nowadays walk over the laws and spirit of the game when they want but resort to the authorities when it suits them. This isn't an Australian thing, it is apparent in all teams. It is of course apparent in most sports. 'Win at all costs' is the modern mantra.

What has interested me is news of the two Australian newspapers whose polls seem to suggest that home support (amongst their readership) views the role of Ponting and the team as less than satisfactory.

One hopes that Ricky and his fellow captains get the message that cricket followers don't want that brand of cricket.

PS; I see that we now have a mediator between Ponting and Kumble in advance of the next test. These officials must now have their own jumbo jet to follow on behind the touring sides! How many more of these useless officials do we need? Is Mike Proctor now redundant? The whole thing is fasical.

  • 281.
  • At 05:02 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Graham wrote:

Aggers as ever has spoken much sense and hit several nails firmly on the head. Any abuse should be considered unacceptable, racially motivated or otherwise, as should knowingly not walking when out. Of course, there are times when a batsman is not sure whether the ball hit bat, pad or clothing, or whether it carried to the fielder, but if the batsman knows - as Symonds apparently did - that he was out, then should he not also be up before the match referee?

Partly as a result of that, one of the things which leaves me an unsatisfactory taste is the way that Harbhajan was apparently "convicted" on the word of the Australian players. Harbhajan denies vehemently making the comment complained of, and apparently neither umpire heard it. Perhaps the match referee would have been entitled to accept the word of the Aussies, were it not that the same Australians (Symonds in particular) in the same match have been seen gloating about deliberately misleading the on-pitch authorities. Yes, justice should be done, be surely it should also be seen to be done, and I am really not sure that it has been here.

  • 282.
  • At 05:03 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Goldenoldy wrote:

Great article Aggers.

Although I don't think the decline in sportsmanship in the game can be laid solely at the door of the Aussies - it is a universal problem.
On every team there are the fair minded, the single minded and the bloody minded.
India complain about Symonds not walking but I would be very surprised to see either Dravid or Ganguly doing so.
Similarly, the Aussies do create a hostile atmosphere which in my opinion is against the spirit of the game, but you did not seem to mind so much when England adopted the tactic to secure a home Ashes victory.
Have we also forgotten jellygate and the numerous incidents that occurred on India's recent tour of England?
Until punishments can be introduced to force players to be as honest as possible it is a situation we may have to live with.
What annoys me is that, as you have pointed out, India are as culpable as any other team for the lack of honesty among players in the modern game, yet they bleat when umpires make mistakes.
Maybe it is time for the ICC to flex their muscles and not only lay down the law to the players, but to the teams that think the game can be held to ransom to get their own way.

  • 283.
  • At 05:05 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Watkin Treharne wrote:

The Aussies are not the only ones who don't walk,(Gilchrist does.
English players in general don't walk. If they think they can survive an appeal they will stand and wait for the umpire.

  • 284.
  • At 05:05 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Dean wrote:

I agree with just about everything you say Jonathan.

I think it's about time the sledging stopped, it's not hard, it's not clever and despite what some might say it's just poor sportsmanship.

I used to represent my country at a junior level at Table Tennis, I remember many senior players who weren't good enough to beat me normally playing just about every trick in the book to put me off in an attempt to win.

The Aussies would have us all believe differently but they are no different to the people I've just described - winding up the opponent with verbals to win needs to become completely unacceptable

I also don't get how the cricket authorities can punish a batsman for shaking his head when given out lbw but still allow such sledging to go unpunished.

maybe this needs to blow up just to bring everyone to their senses!!!

  • 285.
  • At 05:05 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • James Emmerson wrote:

Right, a couple of points:

first of all, post 36
"There are a few examples of fine sportsmen in the ausie team. Lee, Clark, Hussey are a few that spring to mind."
Er, sorry, which players are you referring to? Hussey is a confirmed non-walker (witness his brass-necked refusal to walk in last years Commenwealth Bank series despite a visible nick to the keeper). Clarke in this very Test just gone was appealing for everything, refused to walk despite edging to slip, then claimed a catch which was dubious at best...so they are right alongside Ponting et al, the "hard men" of international cricket.

Secondly I think it's high time Bucknor was removed from the international panel - virtually every test he stands in there is a poor decision, and this one just gone surely topped it off. How can the players be expected to have confidence in an umpire who is clearly incapable? The odd mistake here and there (e.g. like Simon Taufell) people can live with but Bucknor, in the words of a previous post, is indeed well past his sell-by date.

  • 286.
  • At 05:05 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Sri wrote:

In the 21st century, we got to get this umpiring this down as close to a science as possible.
Are there any ICC guidelines for umpires to follow ? For example, one guideline could be: For close stumping decisions or run outs, do not think, just go to the 3rd umpire. Are there any training programs to re-inforce these guidelines.
I think the problem with Bucknor was not going to the 3rd umpire when he needed to. If the guy could'nt hear a loud snick, how could he be sure of a close stumping or a run out. And this is not the first time that is has happened with Bucknor. On top of that, he is seen smiling. That is arrogance. Mark Benson is seen to be serious. He wilted under the pressure put on him players and his mistakes were seen to be genuine and that is why there was no complaint against him.

  • 287.
  • At 05:06 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Suk4000 wrote:

Great article. I would only add that what happens in sports arena is a sad reflection of society as a whole- where the 'me' culture of do anything or say anything to get ahead is prevalent. Whether it be pushing old ladies to get a seat on the train or parents abusing teams playing against their son's team in an inter school match- it is everywhere to see. It is absolutely disgusting to see the abuse used by footballers and now cricketers alike. Whilst we cannot hear the abuse it is often obvious the words that are being used. These players are the role models today's youngsters look up to. This needs to be stamped out vigourously by referees and umpires alike.

  • 288.
  • At 05:06 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • JamesF wrote:

Whilst I am by no means a fan of the way the Australian team has played its cricket over the past couple of years, does the Indians' repsonse not strike anyone else as demonstrating an inability to lose with dignity.

If we're so concerned about the spirit of cricket should we not be questioning the team's simple tit-for-tat reporting of Hogg and its overreaction to a serious allegation against one of its players?

  • 289.
  • At 05:06 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • MostlyOrganic wrote:

Is this the time to bring in the benefits of technology? If appeals for catches, and runouts were automatically referred to the third umpire there would be no benefit to the players in applying pressure. I believe the brief low down to play would do less harm to the game the antics of all the major international teams now. I have more reservations about lbw decisions as I am not convinced that Hawkeye is more reliable that an umpire just because it has the pretty computer graphics.

  • 290.
  • At 05:06 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Cameron wrote:

But the Aussies don't racially abuse anyone do they? Regardless of how much sledging you receive in the field, racial abuse should never be condoned – The Australian team surely upholds this.

When England won the Ashes in 2005 there on field attitude was of aggression and long were the calls of 'maintain the killer instinct' and “they don't like it up 'em”.

Perhaps sledging should become a point of contention in the game but all I’m reading hear is that Australia have become the victim of building a successful team and everybody is lining up to take their opportunity.

To single out Australia is hypocritical and if there is a growing feeling that this style of play, regardless of whether Aus, India, England, the West Indies or any other team do it – the new regulations need to be introduced…not a witch hunt. Complaining about another team is pathetic and again hypocritical.

  • 291.
  • At 05:06 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Charlie wrote:

Brilliant article. This Aussie team have long since been outed as sneering, shouting yobs - even one of the elder statesmen in Hayden spends a good proportion of his cricketing day acting the hard man.

But nobody's mentioned England's behaviour here (as Aggers actually did a couple of weeks ago). Moores has tried to inject the tough guy mentality into the England team and it's totally backfired, embarrassingly so actually. Witness the jelly baby stuff, the banter etc.

More than likely Moores has used the Aussies as the template, but at least their big name players perform regularly. And they win regularly (although I should make it clear that I completely disagree with the manner they win in).

  • 292.
  • At 05:07 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Rinku rayoo wrote:

Dear Jonathan. I could not agree less with you. I think if you look at this test in particular, the real looser is the game of Cricket. i agree with you that there is nothing wrong in playing the cricket the hard way, but Australians should realise that cricket is being watched by millions of people world wide and ONLY WINNING is not important. Showing Respect to opponents and PEOPLE who watch the game is paramount. I think Ricky Ponting is short sighted in otb accepting that He was not WRONG at many a points in the game e.g Claiming the catch, appealing when the new Dravid had not touched the ball. I hope the rest of the tour goes on and in GOOD SPIRIT.

  • 293.
  • At 05:07 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Aravind wrote:

I am sick and tired of listening to people saying - human error (umpires) is part and parcel of the game. We should be constantly trying to improve the game by using the latest technology and not just accept these errors. Just because humans traded each other as slaves in the past doesn't mean it is right. It might have happened in the past but we now know that it is not right. So too with umpiring. We are in an age where satellites can read the time off of people's wrist watches from hundreds of miles above the earth. Surely we should be able to use some of the commercially available technology to get rid of 'human errors' in cricket and make it better.

And please don't get me started on the 'hard cricket' aussie style. You can win games but not people's appreciation when you think your way is the right way. People living in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. And for cricket's sake increase the size of the international panel of umpires from just 8.

  • 294.
  • At 05:08 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Alan Bentley wrote:

Surely the book should have been thrown at Symonds after he admitted hitting the ball.As an albeit average league cricketer nothing causes more resentment on the field than a player knowing he is out being given not-out and then gloating about it. I'm sure this is what then caused most of the problems for the rest of the game.

  • 295.
  • At 05:08 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • bettclan wrote:

I agree with Aggers wholeheartedly.

It is interesting indeed that Symonds who so gleefully admitted that he was out even though the umpire didn't give him, then benefitted from the 'nick that wasn't' in India's innings.

This whole business of not walking because "it's the umpire's job" is laughable. Yes all sides do it and all sides are equally at fault. Under Law 27 a batsman is DISMISSED if he is given out by the umpire OR if he is OUT under the laws and leaves the wicket. This "umpire's job" approach presumably means that batsmen could slog the ball to deep long off where they are caught but if they stay in the middle they might just get away with it. They might just persuade the umpire that something is amiss. Or if Brett Lee flattens the stumps of a batsman, all he has to do is stand and wait for the umpire to give him out (which he might not if the pressure is on). It is, after all, apparently, the umpire's job to dismiss batsmen.

The Preamble to the Laws specifically cite as against the Spirit of the Law, appealing to the umpire knowing that the batsman is not out. I suggest the Preamble needs updaying as soon as possible to include among the list of effective cheating the act of batsmen not walking knowing that they are out.

  • 296.
  • At 05:08 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • An Indian wrote:

an observation: calling a black guy a monkey is racial abuse in a white-dominated country/society, because it *is* meant as a racial insult when used by a white against a black.

in india, where you have all kinds of cultures and colours, people aren't so insulting about race. sure, there is an insidious post-colonial preference for fairer skin, but one's race is not really considered a valid area of insult.

caste, regionalism, insulting your parentage or calling you an animal are very indian ways of verbal abuse: 'you dog', 'you pig', 'you donkey', 'you monkey'...

see? it's NOT the meaning of 'you are black therefore you have barely evolved from a monkey' like when it means a white racist says it...

c'mon, indians all over the world have and still do bear the brunt of racism; all the more reason we dont like dishing it out. it's hitting below the belt. we are painfully aware of that.

  • 297.
  • At 05:08 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Watkin Treharne wrote:

The Aussies are not the only ones who don't walk,(Gilchrist does.
English players in general don't walk. If they think they can survive an appeal they will stand and wait for the umpire.

  • 298.
  • At 05:09 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Dean wrote:

I agree with just about everything you say Jonathan.

I think it's about time the sledging stopped, it's not hard, it's not clever and despite what some might say it's just poor sportsmanship.

I used to represent my country at a junior level at Table Tennis, I remember many senior players who weren't good enough to beat me normally playing just about every trick in the book to put me off in an attempt to win.

The Aussies would have us all believe differently but they are no different to the people I've just described - winding up the opponent with verbals to win needs to become completely unacceptable

I also don't get how the cricket authorities can punish a batsman for shaking his head when given out lbw but still allow such sledging to go unpunished.

maybe this needs to blow up just to bring everyone to their senses!!!

  • 299.
  • At 05:09 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • H Kumar wrote:

Totally agree with Aggers comments.

Points to come out of this sorry episode in international cricket:

1. The Aussies were handed victory by poor umpiring decisions.

2. ICC were right in withdrawing Steve Buckner from umpiring the forthcoming Test. I think it is unfair to put Steve into the melting pot at Perth following what has happened on and off the field at Sydney.

3. If Harbhajan Singh racially abused Andrew Symonds as stated then he should be severely punished. No excuses and none of this rubbish about cultural differences and misinterpretation, a racial slur is a racial slur.

4. The Aussies were so wrapped up in getting this 16th successive win that they lost all judgment and failed to play 'within the spirit of the game'.

5. Two experienced umpires should never have got intimidated by players of either side.

6. A quality side like India despite the umpiring should have been able to bat out two and a bit sessions to save an important Test Match and keep themselves in the series.

7. The ACB should have repremanded Andrew Symonds for the comical press conference afer the first day when he gloated to the worlds on the umpiring mistake in his favour.

  • 300.
  • At 05:10 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Charlie wrote:

I'd like to add my voice to those praising this article. Well done Mr Agnew.

Not the slickest article you've ever written, you come across as genuinely angry, but it hits all the relevant nails bang on the head.

  • 301.
  • At 05:11 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • viren naik wrote:

Hi! Jonathan
frankly speaking most people would not give 'two monkeys' about what has happened here...the game of cricket has long lost its old gentlemenly (but the prejudice in one form or the other was always evident ever since it became a gentleman's game) character and has now joined the ranks of commercilly contolled sports like the Olympics,Football,Tennis and even Golf..the young who have grown up with the changes in the game would not want to give two hoots about the old traditions instead they would think this one as just one more incident the violent world is evolving into..
The most remarkable thing is that India has stood up to the Aussie might in Australia it self which would have never been allowed to happen say even ten years ago ..well this is telling us something that the world is indeed becoming one ..one global village..there will be no love lost between Australia and India after this ...once the players makeup on the field..the ordinary citizens will forget too once they realise it is all to do with overdramatization on which commercialism (TV Ratings) thrives ..

  • 302.
  • At 05:11 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • LawrenceMills wrote:

God I really hate to say this as an Englishman, but after reading the responses above it is clear that there is a big case of the green eyed monster at work here.

Yes the Aussies sledge too much, even my Australian mates say so. But the reason they win 16 test matches in a row, TWICE is that they have better players.

For heavens sake wake up and smell the roses, every team out there is guilty of something, look at the South Africans under Cronje!

The Aussies play to letter of the law, nothing more, we can be just as abusive if we want, in fact Pryor tried that recently, didn't mean we won 16 test straight though did it!?!

I wish people would stop seeing cricket through rose tinted specs, when was this supposed era of the gentleman cricketer?

  • 303.
  • At 05:12 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • PJ wrote:

Am I alone in recalling those halcyon days when players (including notably Australian players such as Steve Waugh) walked off towards the dressing room when they knew they were out - before the umpire had raised that finger? But we seem to live in very confused times. Umpiring decisions are now shown to be suspect not just once but many times over in a single match - that has to be remedied by the cricketing authorities & they were right to remove Bucknor (albeit for wrongly stated reasons). And yes, players ought ultimately to take the lead in showing responsibility and visibly demonstrating sportsman-like behaviour. Can we have the good old days back, please?

  • 304.
  • At 05:12 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Cameron wrote:

But the Aussies don't racially abuse anyone do they? Regardless of how much sledging you receive in the field, racial abuse should never be condoned – The Australian team surely upholds this.

When England won the Ashes in 2005 there on field attitude was of aggression and long were the calls of 'maintain the killer instinct' and “they don't like it up 'em”.

Perhaps sledging should become a point of contention in the game but all I’m reading hear is that Australia have become the victim of building a successful team and everybody is lining up to take their opportunity.

To single out Australia is hypocritical and if there is a growing feeling that this style of play, regardless of whether Aus, India, England, the West Indies or any other team do it – the new regulations need to be introduced…not a witch hunt. Complaining about another team is pathetic and again hypocritical.

  • 305.
  • At 05:12 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Graham wrote:

Aggers as ever has spoken much sense and hit several nails firmly on the head. Any abuse should be considered unacceptable, racially motivated or otherwise, as should knowingly not walking when out. Of course, there are times when a batsman is not sure whether the ball hit bat, pad or clothing, or whether it carried to the fielder, but if the batsman knows - as Symonds apparently did - that he was out, then should he not also be up before the match referee?

Partly as a result of that, one of the things which leaves me an unsatisfactory taste is the way that Harbhajan was apparently "convicted" on the word of the Australian players. Harbhajan denies vehemently making the comment complained of, and apparently neither umpire heard it. Perhaps the match referee would have been entitled to accept the word of the Aussies, were it not that the same Australians (Symonds in particular) in the same match have been seen gloating about deliberately misleading the on-pitch authorities. Yes, justice should be done, be surely it should also be seen to be done, and I am really not sure that it has been here.

  • 306.
  • At 05:12 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Maduraikaaran wrote:

Agree with Agnew (not 100 percent though). I agree on the aspect that powerful Cricket Boards trying to manipulate the appointment of Officials when decisions don't go in favour of them. Tell me how many times would a Board request such a change?

I guess the commercialization of the game has also introduced extreme mainstream media attention, each vying their opportunity to paint their own perspective. In this game, in particular, the Umpires erred as well as the Players. How come an Umpire does not make use of available technology? It is plain common sense and would be stupid to believe the words of the fielding Captain. I wonder if Benson would have believed the same had it been Shoaib Malik or Jayawardane? I am not trying to paint a racial picture over here but that is how Umpires of some countries act. In both the cases reported by Agnew, it is a team from sub continent that has bore the brunt. Saying so, the Umpiring standards aren't impeccable in the sub continent as well. Everybody errs! It is just the frustration of not using the available technology coupled with some aggressive behaviour.

In the end, as long as cultural differences exist, i mean, sub continental teams being passive and unitive while the Aussies being more aggressive and analytic