Western teams don't have monopoly on honesty

Written by: Sunil Gavaskar
Published: Friday, January 21, 2000, 0:00 [IST]
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England's victory in the final Test match will no doubt make them feel that all is not lost with their cricket and in fact even encourage some of the media there to suggest that with a bit of luck they would have won the series. The big discussion though would be about the forfeiting of the South African innings that allowed England the opportunity to go for the runs and win the game off the last over of the match.

Declarations are made by captains to take advantage of the situation for their side, though it is hard to understand how the South African captain expected, in the absence of Allan Donald, to dismiss England in the overs left, for though England have not exactly distinguished themselves on this trip, they have not been the pushovers they looked after the first Test.

They improved, and though they were never seriously a threat, it would have taken an extraordinary effort to lose the game. There is an incredibly stupid desire on the part of many overseas players to try and get kudos from the English media and the authorities and it must be said that some of the most lucrative contracts for cricket are in England and a lot of effort is therefore made to keep the English happy .

If the same forfeiture of an innings had been made by a team from the sub-continent, there would have been a big uproar and shouts of the match being fixed would have come from the same media which will now heap kudos on Hansie Cronje for keeping the game alive and entertaining the public. It is much the same reaction when Pakistan lost to Bangladesh and allegations were made about the game being fixed while not a word was said when in a similar situation South Africa lost to their neighbours Zimbabwe. Then it was as if the Zimbabweans were a better team on the day and so won, but the same allowance was not given to the Pakistanis who, like South Africans, were losing to their neighbours for the first time ever.

It is these double standards that are the problem and the sooner the so-called developed world realises that they do not have a monopoly on integrity, the better it will be. If that was the case, should we not have a completely crime-free society in a developed country? Since that is hardly the case, the sooner they realised that there can be a danger in pointing a finger at others, the better; for, make no mistake, the time to turn the other cheek is long gone.

The reaction in India after the current series, about the Australian umpiring, was simply because the cricket-lovers saw for themselves what was happening and realised what the Indian teams are faced with. This, by the way, has been the story for a long, long time, but has not been told because once again, the earlier people who covered the games were happy not to upset the Australian and the English establishment -- for you-know-why; and on the other hand, the media from overseas were allowed to get away by propagating the myth that it was the Indian umpiring and not the Indian team that was the main reason for their defeat.

Truly, in today's world, if you are nice, people will take advantage of you and walk all over you. At least now, the Indian cricket lovers, when teased by their overseas friends, will have the courage to turn around and tell them that those who live in glasshouses should not throw stones.

True the Australians have been quite the superior side and were deserving winners, but there was a time in the first Test before those decisions that India were in a position from where the game could have been balanced. And here one is not talking about those that went against our batsmen, but particularly those that our bowlers had to suffer which allowed the Australians to recover. All these decisions invariably come when the match is delicately poised and so help to tilt the balance the other way.

It has happened in the past and not just this tour, but the top technical TV coverage has made people aware now -- and thank god for it.

That is the only below-standard factor of Australian cricket, for the facilities at the ground for the spectators and for the players are undoubtedly unsurpassed anywhere in the world, including South Africa where also the facilities are generally top class. The upgrading of the Queensland ground was to be seen to be believed. It was unrecognisable from the one from the last trip to Australia.

The paying public is foremost in the considerations of the administrators here, and that is because unlike India where cricket is the most popular sport, here the competition to get the public in is really fierce.

In India, the administrators, barring a few honourable exceptions, simply do not care about the common man and so no thoughts of improvement are entertained or encouraged.

The thoughts of the captain and the coach of the Indian team regarding the schedule and the travelling involved should make the Board realise that there needs to be an input from them in future scheduling and programming and it would make great sense to co-opt and include the captain and the coach in some of the committees concerned with the actual playing aspect of the game and of course anything that would have an effect on the performances.

The tour has been a pretty abysmal one for India so far, and it will take a huge effort for them to qualify for the finals and if they don't, then there will be plenty of uncomfortable questions asked not only of the players but of the administrators as well. How the administrators must be hating it every time India tours, for it is then that the questions start coming thick and fast, while in India the team wins and so there are hardly any queries about what's gone wrong, for the wins make everybody feel that there is nothing wrong with the game.

Oh, how they must dislike the Indian tours, the administrators.

Professional Management Group

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