Going bananas                                                                                     Bombay Times |19/2/1997

If Cronje and his cronies do not desist from boorish behaviour they will have to be consigned to the loony bin...

Strange are the things nature induces one to do when advantage in a game seems to be slipping away; foolish are the few who let these circumstances affect their mental equilibrium; splendid are the many who applaud the audacity of the opposition.

How often have we not seen a bowler applaud the stroke of a batsman, sometimes even struck by the sheer power and timing employed in doing so. How often have we not seen batsmen shaking their head in disbelief when bowled by a beauty. Have we ever seen a batsmen giving a bowler a mouthful after his dismissal? Poor guy, he trudges back slowly to the pavilion. There are stray instances, of course, of the batsmen sometimes unhappy with the decision.

A bowler giving a mouthful to a batsman who has just hoisted him for a six is indeed unsporting behaviour, utterly deplorable, and certainly not becoming of a thorough professional. Allan Donald was befuddled as Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar began tearing him apart clinically in India's quest for a win in the final of the Standard Bank Triangular series. His two overs cost him 18 runs and when in the third over he was hit for a six, Donald went bananas.

He unleashed a verbal yorker full of hatred and fury — the camera does not lie. His expressions gave a clear indication of his utter frustration. Here was the fearsome 'white lightning' being sent in a flash to all parts at Kingsmead. Dravid's calm at this stage must be lauded. He did not let Donald's puerile, unprofessional gibberish unnerve him. Keeping his cool he went about playing a scintillating knock. Not once, but twice did Donald try to rattle Dravid. Why couldn't the buffoon just applaud Dravid's flamboyant batting and go about his business of
bowling rather than trying to come on top through unfair means.

Indeed, the South Africans, who once had earned the respect of many Indians must surely be losing out on that score. The smiles were knocked off the faces of the hosts. On the final day at Durban, the Indians showed the South African cricketers and their partisan media that they aren't paper tigers. If anything, the Proteas, who appear so professional otherwise looked like lambs being led to the slaughter.

In the Mohinder Amarnath benefit tie at the Wankhede Stadium last December, captain Hansie Cronje exhibited an ugly side when he roughly shoved aside an Indian official, assigned to look after the visitors during the disruption in proceedings after Azhar's dismissal. He followed it up 'elbowing' Javagal Srinath in the first Test in Durban.

During India's last tour of South Africa in 1992, after they were allowed back into the international fold, thanks to India's overwhelming support and vote of confidence, Keppler Wessels, the then skipper, was involved in a fracas with Kapil Dev. After Kapil had run-out Peter Kirsten, who was backing too far up, in the second One-dayer at Port Elizabeth, Wessels, obviously piqued, ran off his crease for a non-existent single with Jonty on strike. As he returned, he purposefully slammed his bat into Kapil's shin.

Pieced together, these incidents give a true picture of the South Africans, banned from international sport for their apartheid policy. Unsporting behaviour should not be tolerated. Errant cricketers must be pulled up. Aggro is required in competitive
sport. But it should be released through the right channel in a sporting manner.

What's more galling than Donal'd outburst is match referee Barry Jarman's soft attitude. The match referee is empowered by the ICC to take whatever action deemed fit. Clive Lloyd awarded the World Cup semi-final tie to Sri Lanka after the crowd ran riot in Calcutta. It was a brave decision and a well respected one.

Maybe Dilip Vengsarkar is right when he says that the ICC has a separate set of rules for the Indians. It's time the Indian Board took a hard line on such incidents rather than play footsie with the ICC.


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Copyright 2006 Martin D'Souza. All rights reserved.