Saturday, July 5, 2008

Question on offensive exchange in the yahoo answers (cricket section)

Brief History:

I became a member of the Yahoo answers sometime in October or November 2007. At that point of time test match series between India and Australia was going on. Then came the Second Test in the Indian cricket team's tour of Australia for the 2007/08 summer. It was a controversial Test cricket match played over five days at the Sydney Cricket Ground from January 2 to January 6, 2008. Australia won the match by 122 runs with minutes to spare at the end of the fifth day.

I happened to see this match streaming on my laptop....unfortunately, I must add. To be impartial I would recommend that you read the details of this match here:,_2007-08_Border-Gavaskar_Trophy

Without taking sides I would say that this match was something I had never witnessed before and perhaps would never want to witness again. It created an international furore, with the members of the Australian cricket team especially their captain Rickey Ponting drawing brunt of the flak.

I am quoting directly from Wikipedia, drawing your attention to the International outrage:

"International reaction

Former Pakistani fast bowler Wasim Akram lashed out against the "hypocritical" Australians for reporting Harbhajan, despite being known for their sledging[10] and despite a rumoured pre-series agreement not to refer to Symonds, Australia's only dark skinned player, using the word "monkey" as Indian cricket fans had done in their recent home series.[53] Akram further attacked them by calling them the "worst sledgers" in the world and labeling them as "cry babies":
We did not behave like cry babies and drag it to the officials … They do it constantly and much more than anyone else, so how they can go out and complain about other teams, I don't know.
Wasim Akram, former Pakistani cricket player[10]

Indian officials further went on to claim that because "monkey" was not a derogatory word in India it was acceptable.[33] India lodged a counter claim against Brad Hogg for use of the word "bastard" against two of their players before later withdrawing the charge.

Rashid Latif, a former Pakistani cricketer who was accused of being a racist to Adam Gilchrist during the 2003 Cricket World Cup, also defended Harbhajan, saying that Singh had temper problems but was otherwise a good person:

He has a short temper, he needs to control his emotions. He is a good guy, but he has some kind of problem with his temper. I think (Harbhajan) should have been given a warning on the field and if he does say something again, then give him a ban for two or three matches...All of these things should stay on the field, it is better for the game.
Rashid Latif, former Pakistani cricket player.[54]

John Morrison, former New Zealand spin-bowler accused Australians of "running off to the teacher", while his fellow team-mate Dipak Patel said that he had been called "a lot worse than a monkey".[55]

Harsha Bhogle, an Indian commentator of the channel Star Cricket said during the commentary when the game ended:
Australia Won! But did they deserve it?

During the Clarke's claimed catch and when Ponting held up his finger, Sunil Gavaskar said:
Why is Mr. Benson asking a person who didn't walk off when he was caught behind at 14, and it couldn't be possible that you are lying when you are batting and true while you are fielding, That is Nonsense! Utter Nonsense! I am sorry Mr. Benson, you got it all wrong

Christopher Martin-Jenkins, chief cricket correspondent for The Times in the United Kingdom defended the "righteous indignation of India's players" and suggested that the BCCI's adamance to give the issue the necessary publicity has been better for the game. Martin-Jenkins also described Australia as the "nonpareils of world sledging" and expressed the view that Michael Clarke would not be as good a future captain as Mike Hussey based on Clarke's decision to stand his ground after being caught at first slip.[56]

Former player and match referee Clive Lloyd commenting on Steve Bucknor not umpiring in the next test match in a BBC Radio 5 Live interview said:

You wonder what confidence this gives umpires. What happens now if Billy Bowden makes a few mistakes?[57]

Former England cricketer and current Channel Nine commentator Tony Greig, whose comments on air were criticised by Ricky Ponting stood by his observations saying:

I stand by what I said about the declaration. If the umpires had got it right (and Rahul Dravid had not been incorrectly given out caught behind) Ricky would have been found out on the declaration.
Going on to comment on other issues of the game including umpiring and not walking on getting a nick he said:
Ponting got an edge down the leg-side and was out (but didn't walk). Then he got a bad decision for an lbw and carried on about it. There are double standards. At the same time Ponting is trying to persuade opposition captains to take his word on catches … they are all over the place. All I can tell you is the best umpiring I have ever experienced and the best relationships between umpires and players was in England in county cricket where we had former first-class players like Mark Benson umpiring. You were considered to be a cheat if you didn't walk.[58]

English journalist Simon Barnes writing for The Australian believed it was too late to draw a racism line in the sand. Barnes alleged that sledging is as much part of cricket as kicking in the shins is as part of rugby.[59] According to Barnes "Australia has long promoted mental disintegration; as a result, we are facing the disintegration of the game of cricket.".[59]
The Asian teams come from a culture in which politeness is a more respected thing than it is in Australia or England, but many Asian cricketers have thought it appropriate to fight back in kind. Continuing escalation is inevitable. If I called you an idiot, again and again and again, you would eventually call me a bloody fool. What would you think if I then staggered back in horror. "He called me a fool! He said bloody! This mustn't be allowed!" That is what has happened. Australia led the way in insults and now, claiming that an India player used a racist term, it is saying that rude behaviour on a cricket pitch is terrible, rotten, awful, mustn't be allowed.
—Simon Barnes - The Australian[59]

Oliver Brett for BBC Sport was also sympathetic towards the Indians.[30] Brett claimed that Ponting's word shouldn't have been taken for fact by Mike Procter as Ponting had claimed a catch that was "obviously grassed" and had raised his finger to Mark Benson to indicate certainty that a dubious catch had been taken.[30]"


In the host country Australia this match created much heated controversy, with some people criticising the Australian captain Rickey Ponting while others defending him. Again I am quoting from Wikipedia :

"Reaction in Australia

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland was approving of the player's behaviour, claiming that there had been a "marked improvement" in their on-field attitude and behaviour in recent years.[10]

The Australian Cricketers Association chief Paul Marsh believed the issues to be an instance of "tall poppy syndrome", claiming that the only reason Australia was being targeted by the media and opposition teams was that they had been dominating world cricket for too long.[10] Later, in a Sydney Morning Herald article, Marsh points out that Australia, along with Ireland were two of the four nominees to the ICC Spirit of Cricket awards which occurred only a few months before in September 2007. Marsh also pointed out that the Hogg incident was the first ICC Code of Conduct violation by the Australian team in 13 months.[60]

Steve Waugh writing for The Daily Telegraph in his article titled "Epic encounter's sour aftertaste" said:

It's a real pity this magnificent Test match will probably be remembered for all the wrong reasons - and not for the outstanding quality, pressure and the excruciating drama it ultimately provided.[61]

The English Australian journalist and former captain of Somerset County Cricket Club, Peter Roebuck, a columnist in the Sydney Morning Herald, branded Ponting as "arrogant" and insisted that be stripped of the captaincy.[62]

"If Cricket Australia cares a fig for the tattered reputation of our national team in our national sport, it will not for a moment longer tolerate the sort of arrogant and abrasive conduct seen from the captain and his senior players," said Roebuck.

"Australia itself has been embarrassed. The notion that Ponting can hereafter take the Australian team to India is preposterous.

"He has shown not the slightest interest in the well-being of the game, not the slightest sign of diplomatic skills, not a single mark of respect for his accomplished and widely admired opponents."[62]

There is support for Ponting among some quarters of the media with The Australian's Malcolm Conn suggesting that he is being unfairly targeted.[citation needed]

Former player Geoff Lawson was scathing in his description of the team. Speaking to the Herald Sun, he said:
There's certainly been a lot of feeling from ex-players who think the baggy green has been disrespected. Some of these (current) players need to be spoken to. I just think a bit of counselling needs to be done with how these players perceive themselves. As an ex-Australian player I was pretty disappointed.
Geoff Lawson, former Australian player[63]

Sport Australia Hall of Fame members John Bertrand, Herb Elliott and Robert de Castella accused the Australian cricket team of turning sport into war and thereby damaging international relations. John Bertrand, the Hall of Fame chairman, went on to say that:

We believe Australia's Test team moral compass needs to be retuned and we want Cricket Australia to know that... We believe the No.1 rule is to show respect for your fellow competitors and currently this does not appear to be the case... Their desire to win at all costs is beginning to blur their moral compass and it would appear that is what happening to the Australian Test team... The fallout that we are seeing at the moment is not acceptable. It's clearly damaging international relations and clearly a lot of people are upset...[64]

Kevin Bartlett, former AFL player, accused the Australian cricket team of bad sportsmanship towards its opponents by saying that:

You don't treat them with contempt, you treat them with respect – and I didn't see that from the Aussies[64]

Glenn McGrath who is a recently retired Australian cricketer commented upon the decision to stand down Steve Bucknor for next test by saying:

I think it is sad and disappointing that it gets to the stage where you have a bad game and they are calling for your head.[65]

The Opposition leader in Australia Brendan Nelson defended Ricky Ponting and said:

It was great game that had all of the qualities, and strength of, any sporting match. Ricky Ponting has a really tough job as captain of the Australian cricket team, people should get off his back.[66]

Neil Harvey, member of Don Bradman's Invincibles as well as the Australian Cricket Board Team of the Century and Australian Cricket Hall of Fame inductee, blamed Ponting for the mess by saying that:

Ponting should have kept his mouth shut and nothing would have happened... It is quite unheard of for a captain to dob on someone like this and it is quite an unsportsmanlike act. I think Ponting should be chastised by Australian cricket officials for his actions.[67]"

This to me was the most surprising bit of critisim:

"Jeff Thomson ("Thommo"), the former Australian fast bowler, harshly criticised the Australians by saying that:
The Aussies act like morons and bullies and they can't cop criticism from someone like myself. I think it was appalling that none of the Australians went over and shook Anil Kumble's hand at the end of the SCG Test. They just played up and carried on like idiots like they normally do.[67]"

Some sectoins of the Australian media counter attacks the Indian players:

"On the 10th of January, following repetitive criticism of the Australian team, The Australian newspaper posted on their websites a video of the 6th ODI in the 2006 English tour of India, in which Harbhajan Singh stands his ground after being clean bowled by Kevin Pietersen, having an exchange with the bowler including swearing to him, before leaving. On the same day, Channel Nine posted videos of the Harbhajan incident as well as an instance in which Mahendra Singh Dhoni dived to his right and claimed a catch which had bounced at the base of his glove. Channel Nine claimed there was "hypocrisy afoot" under a headline of "Holier-than-thou Indians are sinners too". In the same article it posted a 1981 video of Sunil Gavaskar in a bid to backup its argument.[68][67]"

These are the results of the public polling (again quoting from Wikipedia):

"Public polling

60% of respondents to a poll on the Sydney Morning Herald's website agreed with Roebuck's call for Ponting to stand down, however a poll on the Wide World of Sports website revealed 41,000 of the 50,000 people taking the poll did not want Ponting removed.[69]

The Sydney Daily Telegraph also published a poll that revealed 83% of those who voted thought Ponting was not a good ambassador for the game."


This test match had major repurcussions on Yahoo Answers Cricket section. There is a major time difference between USA and Asia and Australia. So I could only see those answers and questions that were not deleted. All I have witnessed so far has been very nasty indeed. I have even observed a persons (who happens to be an Indian) photograph been displayed on the internet, together with his telephone number and work address. It is very surprising that people who once must have been friends (to have trusted them with their personal details) were now bitter enemies I have read many other claims, that this person has been made to loose his job etc., but how far these are true I do not know.

Well this is again something we wish never happens amongst friends. What surprises me is the unwillingness of the warring factions i.e., Australian fans and some Indian fans to have any dialogue.

My personal opinion is that to have any kind of dialogue one needs to stop posting personal details and stop personal attacks. How this can happen is beyond me. So I asked this question:

Seriously friends would you prefer that users here do not oppose your views?

Dear Friends,

Good morning! Before you answer this question, I would like to put forward my views. I can see that there is some friction here. The question is : will this be a better site if people simply agreed to your point of view.

I remember, I once asked a question in the boxing section about the most inspirational boxer. My favourite has always been somkin' Joe. It comes as no surprise that I would not hold Muhammed Ali in high esteem. However, there was a person who spoke eloquently about Md Ali, even though I disagreed I gave him the BA.

I feel that some of the users who express thier opinions clearly are also the very interesting users. I would like to have your opinion.




To make sure that I have not unintentionally shown a bias. I asked this question to the Yahoo Answers Cricket section:

Comments on impartiality?
Dear Friends,As you all know I had earlier posted the following question:;...

I had gone out for a bit of work (although it was a Saturday!) but came back to see that some answers were deleted. Friends, this question was meant for having a rational dialogue, so why delete answers?

Anyway, I moved out of Yahoo here, so that deletion of question or answers would make no difference. I have collected the results and presented in my blog with my own views.

I have tried to be impartial here and quoted only from credited internet resources. If you find that some of my statements need modification, I will make changes, provided I hear convincing arguments.

There is a comments box at the end of the page, anything posted there will not be deleted by me.

This stands for everybody.


3 minutes ago

- 3 days left to answer.

Additional Details

27 seconds ago

EDIT: I have left the former question for voting, I already notice from the voting that people are highly polarized. I'll wait and see if there is a majority consensus.I am still working on my blog and refining some points and maybe add some more. I will fill in detalis...with time.

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