It's almost as terrifying as the prospect of a Bros comeback tour, but here, back after an eleven-and-a-half year absence and for one night only, I give you The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Cricket in 2009.
You are here
OK class, repeat after me:
"Monkey is not a racist word in Australia."
It's not, in general. There is, however, a long history of "monkey" being used as a term of racial derision in Britain and continental Europe against people of African or Caribbean heritage, most prominently on the football field. Andrew Symonds, born in Birmingham of Jamaican parents, and an immigrant to Australia as a child, comes into this category.
Justice Hansen's report on the Harbhajan Singh appeal case arrived from the ICC in the form of a 22-page document yesterday evening. The Australian has converted it to one very long HTML page - but beware, it contains:
- Frequent Coarse Language (in English and Punjabi),
- Violence (Harbhajan Singh slapping Brett Lee's buttock),
- Sexual References (see Frequent Coarse Language and Violence),
- Horror (the ICC's disciplinary records database),
- Adult Themes (discussion of the appropriate standard of proof with reference to "The Queen on the application of Dr Harish Doshi v the Southend-On-Sea Primary Care Trust"), and
- Not-At-All-Adult-Themes (see Frequent Coarse Language, Violence, and Horror).
There's so many strands to follow at the moment. Let's start with the central issue.
Harbhajan Singh has been found guilty by ICC match referee Mike Procter of a Level 3 breach of the Code of Conduct that relates to comments vilifying players on the basis of, among other options, race, ethnicity or colour. The full ICC press release concerning the hearing can be read here.
Harbhajan is alleged to have used the word "monkey" to Andrew Symonds - though I notice that there seems to be no finding explicitly stating that he actually called Symonds a "monkey".
There appear to have been five witnesses giving evidence at Sunday night's hearing in addition to the two protagonists. Sachin Tendulkar, who was Bhajju's batting partner at the time, and four Australian fielders: Ponting, Hayden, Gilchrist and Michael Clarke. Neither umpire witnessed the alleged remark.
I was just about to congratulate Andrew Symonds for being the first non-white person to score a Test century for Australia in men's cricket. Of course, he's the second... one Jason Gillespie beat him to the punch by eight months.
Still, it's testimony to the conservative, imperial institution that Australian cricket has been over the past century and a half. It's getting better - very, very slowly.