Time to move on, says India's skipper as tour continues
Jan 9, 2008, 11:19 GMT
Sydney - India's cricket tour of Australia is back on after captain Anil Kumble offered an olive branch to a home side that has fallen foul of even its own fans because of on-field boorish behaviour.
'I think it's important to move on, cricket is larger than individuals, and I respect that and it's important that we move on,' Kumble said after arriving in Canberra to resume the series.
'The focus for us is to ensure that we get the best possible out of this game.'
Kumble, who has earned praise for his graciousness and forbearance, said he was ready to sit down with Australian captain Ricky Ponting prior to the Test in Perth to thrash out remaining differences.
The tour has been on hold after an ill-tempered match in Sydney in which Australia secured an unassailable 2-0 lead in the four-match Test series.
After Sunday's match Kumble accused the Australians of not honouring the traditions of the game through win-at-all-costs tactics that included claiming wickets they were not rightfully theirs.
Ponting inflamed the situation by not shaking hands with Kumble at the end of the match and then reporting Harbhajan Singh for allegedly calling Andrew Symonds a 'monkey.'
Harbhajan was banned for three matches, which would have ended his participation in the tour if the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had not appealed the tribunal's finding and pledging to review its participation if the punishment was not quashed on appeal.
The BCCI also demanded that Jamaican umpire Steve Bucknor be replaced for the final Tests in Perth and Adelaide. Another move from the BCCI was to report Brad Hogg for allegedly calling Kumble a 'bastard.'
Cricket administrators on Tuesday bowed to India's demands. International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive Malcolm Speed also appointed chief umpire Rajan Madugalle an intermediary to salve the tensions between the two sides.
Harbhajan will play in Perth pending a review of his case.
'What we have elected to do - and we've given some serious thought about this - is to take one of the issues out of play,' Speed said.
In calls to radio stations and letters to newspapers, Australian cricket fans overwhelmingly threw their support behind Kumble's allegation that the home team had trampled on the spirit of the game.
Peter Roebuck, one of the world's most respected cricket commentators, called for Ponting to be sacked in a front-page article in The Sydney Morning Herald, the nation's biggest-circulation newspaper.
Former Test captains Sunil Gavaskar of India, Wasim Akram of Pakistan and Tony Greig of England weighed in to condemn the boorishness of the Australians.
Former Australian Test cricketer and current Pakistan coach Geoff Lawson said he was ashamed of the behaviour of the national team. 'As an ex-Australian player I was pretty disappointed,' he said.
Even sportsmen from outside the game - runners Herb Elliott and Robert de Castella and yachtsman John Bertram included - berated the team for its ill-mannered behaviour.
'Their desire to win at all cost is blurring their moral compass,' Bertram said. 'Sport is only sport - it's not war.'
Threatening to upset moves towards detente is Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland, who is refusing to accept any criticism of the home side or of Ponting's leadership.
He defended the vulgarities that Australian players routinely use to try and wreck the concentration of their opponents.
'Test cricket is what's being played here - it's not tiddlywinks,' Sutherland said in a riposte that implied the Indian players were too soft.
'It's a tough game out there and form time to time emotions will bubble over and perhaps some of the words that are said will not be acceptable in genteel company, but they are said and that is what happens.'
His notion that players should accept the use of insults was at odds with Australia's decision to report an Indian player for an alleged insult.
The strength of feeling against Ponting and the team is so strong in Australia that some have called for Sutherland's head to go on the block along with Ponting's.
Like Ponting, whom he appointed captain, Sutherland is yet to make any admission that his team may have behaved badly. Instead, he has implied that the Indian visitors are at fault for what has escalated into a crisis in international cricket.© 2008 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur