n September 28, Harbhajan Singh, the former Indian off break bowler insulted the Sri Lanka national side and the current Australian side touring India.
“The kind of cricket Australia is playing, it appears as if Sri Lankans are playing in yellow clothing…”
Both the Australians and the Sri Lankan’s answered the former Indian player not with mean-spirited tweets but with bat and ball. Australia would have given the Indian team an even bigger thrashing had not the Weather Gods intervened on India’s behalf. However, even the ‘Duckworth-Lewis’ rule could not save India. But it did save the team from a bigger humiliation had the weather not intervened.
Sri Lanka too gave the ‘turbanator’ a black-eye when in the on-going test match against Pakistan the team recovered from a precarious 60-odd runs for the loss of three wickets to recover to a decent 419 all out.
Before we make too much of the insult hurled by the man who likes to refer to himself as the “Turbanator”, we should sympathise with the broken-hearted cricketer who found it difficult to stomach his omission from the Indian national team. Harbhajan could not make his way into the 2017 Indian team national side, despite past exploits which earned him 400-odd wickets. He gave vent to his feelings via a tweet saying ‘…I too could offer similar qualities as some other players picked in the current squad’.
The poor man is also quite jealous of the fact that present-day Indian spinners are doing much better than he did at the highest level. So-much-so he laid bare his soul with a tweet after the match-winning performance of Ashwin - India’s premier strike bowler - who captured 17 wickets in the test against New Zealand. During the Indore Test, Harbhajan tweeted in response to one of his followers: “…Kumble and my test wicket count would have been something else if we got wickets like last 4 years we were playing on.”
Harbhajan made his Test and One Day International (ODI) debut in early 1998, But his unsporting behaviour saw his career curtailed with several disciplinary blots. He, up to now, India’s leading off-spin wicket taker - reclaimed a regular position in the team in late 2004, but often found himself watching from the sidelines in Test matches outside the sub-continent with Kumble, being preferred. In 2006, as well as in 2007, the number of wickets he was able to take decreased, while the runs he conceded increased. He was also criticised for bowling defensively.
After India was knocked out in the first-round elimination matches of the 2007 World Cup series, Harbhajan was replaced by other spinners in the national squad in both formats of the game. A fighter always, Harbhajan regained his position in the team in late 2007, but threw very unsavoury racial comments at Australian player Andrew Symonds citing the latter’s aborigine background. As a result in 2008, Harbhajan found himself banned by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
His unsportsmanlike behaviour hit a new low when he was seen slapping Indian fast bowler Sreesanth at the end of an IPL match which saw the Indian Board suspend him.
As US President Trump would tweet - SAD.
There is no doubt Sri Lanka cricket is going through a bad patch. But it must be realised the country is in the process of team-building. The team also faces problems with cricket administration authorities. The retirement of its stars Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, TM Dilshan, Muttiah Muralitharan and the recent loss of form of speed merchant Lasith Malinga were body blows to Sri Lanka cricket. The new generation of players has to play, catch-up and fast. They cannot be expected to fill the cricketing boots of immediate past giants immediately.
The team will undoubtedly face defeat. All great cricketing nations from the West Indies, to the Australians have faced similar situations. So have the Indians. Harbhajan has perhaps forgotten that Sri Lanka scored a mammoth total of over 900 runs when cricketing icon Sachin Tendulkar captained the Indian team. Skipper Ranatunga sportingly spared India’s blushes, by declaring the innings closed before a thousand runs were posted. Unlike some ex-Indian players, there were no egoists who were dropped from the Sri Lanka cricket team suggesting the Indians take up ‘gudu’ instead.
In the end Harbhajan’s comment may be the spark the present Sri Lankan team and the Aussies needed to show they are not the spineless creatures Harbhajan tries to make them out to be.
To the teams who made Harbhajan eat his words, we say, in Harbhajan’s own terminology, ‘Wah kamal hai’ or EXCELLENT.