Sydney, Jan 11 : Drawing a parallel between the ongoing Team India and Kangaroos phoney war with the Mohamed Haneef case, former England cricketer and renowned columnist, Peter Roebuck has said that the recent episode has only validated his call for the dismissal of Australian skipper Ricky Ponting.
"Time to shake the tree. Sacking the captain was the only story remotely dramatic enough to bring everything out into the open. The point was valid. The leadership had failed," Roebuck, who is now a newspaper columnist and radio commentator, wrote in smh.com.au.
Roebuck also said that the Indian community, who were already feeling aggrieved, especially after the Haneef case, got even more disenchanted.
Even though Harbhajan had immediately apologised and his "esteemed partner" had tried to mellow down things, Ponting and his kitchen cabinet decided to put the wheels of justice in motion, he pointed out.
"Australians like to think they play hard and fair. In fact, they define these terms domestically. Multiculturalists believe this lies behind the narrowness of the local game," he further pointed out.
Team India was feeling that the anger was manufactured and "a mountain had been made out of a molehill," said Roebuck, adding that "Australia's excesses on the final day" had reinforced the resentment.
Holding Australia's leaders accountable for all this, he writes that it seemed that the hosts were no longer to caring about anything except victory.
Now the important question before us is, Can the tour be saved? Can Ponting take the team to India in October?, he questioned, adding that the coming days will decide all this, but Australia must take the initiative.
Giving a suggestion to the Australian skipper, Roebuck said Ponting could contact his counterpart to suggest drawing a line in the sand, adding, "Forget about Sydney and all its fevers. Without prejudice withdraw all charges against Harbhajan and Brad Hogg."
"Arrange to meet at stumps every day to sort out differences. Work out a common practice about walking, low catches, words and so forth. Kumble is a straight-shooter but also as fierce a patriot as his counterpart," he added.
Roebuck emphasised that Ponting must produce a team that reflects the entire nation, "not merely its cricket community, a team that plays with grace and without recrimination."
Story first published: Friday, January 11, 2008, 14:28 [IST]
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