Sydney, Feb.14 (ANI): Australia's troubled relationship with India, and Cricket Australia's attempt to have John Howard nominated as a future president of the International Cricket Council, have recently occupied significant space in the media.
But according to the Sydney Morning Herald, the need of the hour for cricketing fraternities in both countries is for great and skilled statesmen.
The paper goes on to say that cricket doesn't need Howard. It needs Mandela.
It says that what has been happening lately on Victorian streets, in parks and at train stations, and the manner of the portrayal of these incidents in sections of the Indian media, are in parallel with the events that saw India's cricket team threaten to abort its Australian tour two summers ago.
This is not to say the behaviour of Australia's cricketers towards their opponents was ever violent. It was, however, rough house within the context of the cricket field to the extent that the Indian team took serious offence.
India's widely admired captain of the time, Anil Kumble, even paraphrased one of Australia's most admired cricket leaders, Bill Woodfull, in suggesting there were two teams on the ground and only one was playing cricket.
This paper's cricket columnist, Peter Roebuck, went so far as to call for the sacking of Ricky Ponting as Australian captain.
Roebuck drew much criticism for the ferocity of his attack, many critics regarding him as an anti-Australian pom.
Whatever the behaviour of any of the Australian players, India's response was inflated and unjustifiable.
When its spin bowler, Harbhajan Singh, was found guilty of racially abusing Andrew Symonds and suspended for three Test matches, the Indians threatened to call off the tour and return home. Even worse, they saw to it that West Indian umpire Steve Bucknor was removed from duty for the following Test in Perth.
Significantly, the rights and wrongs of this unpleasant episode remain hard to define to the present day.
The sorts of issues this particular incident aroused are not unique to contests between Australia and India.
Such suspicion between the nations of Australia and India generally has broadened lately due to repeated incidents of violence against Indians on Melbourne's streets. Clearly there is no justification for these occurrences. Unlike the methods of Australian cricket teams, these can be condemned unambiguously. (ANI)