Saturday, December 19, 2009

Benn, Johnson and Haddin

Suleiman Benn has been handed a two ODI ban while Mitchell Johnson and Brad Haddin have been fined for the untoward incidents that happened recently in the Perth test between Australia and the West Indies. And after watching the incident, I really feel that the decision is a bit unfair. When Benn and Johnson bumped into each other while Johnson was trying to get a single, it was a very natural collision. True, it was pretty silly of them to get into such a muddle, but I believe that's all that it was - a silly, comical event. Even the commentators had a laugh about it while watching the replays. If it was left at that, all of this would have been no more than a minor blip on the radar.

But Haddin's reaction really escalated the incident. He had no reason to point his bat at Benn. Benn had been annoying the Aussies throughout the series with his antics and most would say that he had it coming. But what Haddin did was simply unacceptable, especially since he wasn't even directly involved in the incident. And Benn's subsequent theatrical gestures, along with the language that he used, really made things ugly. And all this happened right in front of the Billy Bowden. The first incident was an accident and couldn't have been avoided. But what happened in the middle of the pitch during the overs break was a sheer disgrace. The Umpires should have stopped it from taking place. The days of school Headmaster-like Umpires are long gone, but the Umpires still have the responsibility of maintaining discipline on the field. And needless to say, they utterly failed in it.

So Benn has been banned for bringing the game into disrepute, which is perfectly understandable. But Haddin's crime was no less (if not more) in intensity. He definitely instigated Benn to react and is as much to be blamed as Benn himself. Johnson was innocent and has been let off with a small fine; but Haddin has gotten off very lightly. This sends the wrong signals, for the cricketers responsible for stirring up such unfortunate events should not be able to walk away without severe punishment.

Speaking of bringing the game into disrepute, the broadcasters must also be charged with the same crime. When Benn and Haddin were having a verbal battle right under Bowden's nose, it could all be heard on the stump mike. The stump mike is placed to detect any noise that may be created when the delivery is being played, so that edges can be recorded. It must be switched off immediately after the ball is bowled. But it was kept on for much longer, as a result the foul language being used could be heard by everyone watching on TV. It is shameful that the broadcasters are themselves damaging the sport that they are seeking to promote, just for the sake of a few TRP points. It is unfortunate that Cricket's broadcasters seem to be causing the game great harm by their detrimental policies. Sadly, it is also true.