I don’t remember the last occasion when cricket looked so ugly. Let’s have a recap of what happened on April 10, 2012 at Visakhapatnam.
It was an IPL match between Mumbai Indians and Deccan Chargers. Kumar Sangakkara played a ball by Munaf Patel, it took the inside edge of his bat, went on to hit the stumps, hit the wicket-keeper’s gloves and hit the stumps back. All this happened in a flash and, in one go it was actually impossible to judge what happened. The umpires, being human, thought that the ball did not hit Sanga’s bat, rather hit Karthik’s gloves and then the stumps. Players agreed. But as soon as they saw the replay on the giant screen, Harbhajan Singh rushed to the umpire and argued in the worst possible manner he could. He was joined by Munaf Patel, who was encouraged by his skippers’ gesture. I guess both of them forgot that the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2011-12 was over and that they were playing in a tournament watched by millions.
He might have taken
more than 400 wickets in Test matches, but still I won’t consider Harbhajan Singh as a great cricketer. Now many say that a cricketer’s life off the field should not be taken into consideration while remembering his records. I agree. Here I am not taking into account his life off the field. But if a cricketer can get involved in such ugly incidents on the field, during LIVE matches, I get jitters thinking about his behaviour off the field.
What happened in the match against Deccan Chargers was something which was very demeaning from an Indian’s point of view. Bhajji once again showed that in spite of being a veteran of the game, he lacks manners and etiquette to be a great cricketer. Often when he goes wicket less, the frustration is visible on his face. As a senior in the team he takes things for granted and thinks he can get away on every occasion.
Bhajji’s past record isn’t too impressive either. I mean come what may, you ‘cannot’ slap your team-mate under any circumstance (read Sreesanth slapgate). And if you do, you have to be someone who is not aware of his actions. If seniority allows you to be physical with your juniors, then Bhajji could have been treated in the same manner by his seniors. What if Sreesanth had slapped him back? He too has a temper problem. But he did not, because he was aware of his limitations not just as a cricketer, but as Harbhajan's junior as well.
I was ashamed to see what actually happened. The frustration of not being able to make a comeback in Team India was clearly visible on his face. His body language, facial expression clearly suggested that. I mean if you are not being able to pick up wickets, you cannot let the youngsters face the wrath of it.
Coming back to latest controversy, I won’t blame Munaf for that situation. It was Harbhajan’s attitude that incited him. When you know that millions are watching you, you get carried away. And that’s exactly the problem with Harbhajan. He knows that since he is the Mumbai Indians skipper, the cameras would tend to focus more on him, which is why he tries to be smart and hence controversies follow him. Back in 2008, he was leading the Mumbai Indians side when he allegedly slapped his team-mate and didn’t show any quality which is the prerequisite of a good leader. Often while setting the field he uses his index finger, which again is not a pleasant sight. None of the skippers use such gestures to interact with their team members. I wonder what Tendulkar will have to say about Bhajji’s conduct.
It’s time ‘The Turbanator’ realises his limits on the cricket field, or we might soon witness a day when he is punched by a junior during a live match. And it’s high time that he controls his temper else he should quit cricket and join the wrestling show ‘Ring ka King’, not as a goodwill ambassador, but as a contestant this time. That would suit him more and he might find the right people to deal with the aggression…
(The views expressed by the author are personal)