Shobha's man was caught licking a lozenge on Tuesday as India held on to beat Zimbabwe in a VB series league match. Now the whole world (read Aussie media here) has claimed that Rahul Dravid was trying to tamper with the playing conditions by using his lozenge to shine up the ball. Some of the Aussie beer guts have even claimed to have discovered the reason behind the prodigious swing achieved by the Indian pacemen during the test series. Ya right and Sachin Tendulkar takes advice from me regarding his footwork... Duh!
Prem Panicker has this piece on Rediff and questions whether Dravid has actually committed the crime he's accused of. But whether he did it or not, according to me, is not the point. The point is, whether we need to really talk about it in the Indian press when the Aussie press is itself doing a good job about it. Regardless of Prem Panicker's tone, which absolves Dravid of any crime, Rediff's other features on this issue are pretty damning. Check the title of this reader's poll - Should ball tampering be legalized? And check out this photo feature Roughing it up - a look at instances of ball tampering over the years. And no guesses for the first picture - Rahul Dravid.
Prem Panicker however ends his piece with something I agree whole heartedly. This however is practically a case of Rediff playing to both sides of the coin. Prem's argument is - why are the Australians raising a hue and cry over this issue when practically nothing appeared in the Australian media over the news that the MCG curator, Tony Ware had used loose earth to repair cracks on the 5th day pitch. That, Steve Waugh claimed was a "honest mistake". So going by that yardstick, this was a "honest mistake" too, as Wright and Ganguly have said in Dravid's defense.
In my view, it is cricketer's second nature to lick his fingers and apply spit liberally on one side of the ball to keep it shiny. But what is the amount of spit that is legal. Can I not make the ball heavier (akin to it rolling on wet turf) by spitting more than liberally. I know this is yucky, but ya, nothing prevents me from doing so. And then cricketers chew gum all the time. Have there been any tests that prove that menthol from chewing gum (or the ill-fated lozenge) does not affect the ball's texture and condition etc.? If the answer is no, then there is no question of Rahul Dravid being fined.
But as I have been saying ever since India set foot in Australia in December, why is the Indian media giving space to articles and news that are detrimental to the Indian team - in spirit and in play. A number of Aussie players are allowed to play their mental games (which I think they are bad at, these days) by writing trash in the Indian newspapers. And if u want to know about Indians voices in the Aussie media - practically zilch, barring a couple like Soumya Bhattacharya, deputy editor of the Hindustan Times, Kolkata, working at the Sydney Morning Herald under a Medialink fellowship contributes occasionally to the Herald and that too only articles of public interest and little to do with the actual game of cricket.
As I type this, Steve Bucknor, who is one of the umpires in today's India Australia clash at the SCG, seems to be making a joke out of the whole issue by making rubbing motions on one side of the ball in front of all the cameras. That in my view is as damning as a bowler celebrating without waiting for an umpire's decision. Throughout the ground are posters taking sides in the whole issue and Dravid is being booed as he walks in after Parthiv Patel's dismissal. And Bill Lawry and Tony Greig up the Channel Nine?s box are vehemently claiming that Dravid got off easy and Ganguly should have also being fined because he ?was standing opposite to Dravid and asking him to wipe it even harder?. The a^(*!#$! And we as loyal Indian fans are still reading and listening to the shit that these Aussie beer influenced poseurs pass as diaries and cricket commentary!
Follow-up: While Rahul Dravid has not been able to say anything abt this (usual ICC gag order), a lot of people, incl. the ICC match referee involved, Clive Lloyd, have been forthcoming with their comments. Peter Roebuck seems be a certainity for the next Pravasi Bharatiya Divas next year (he has been pro-India throughout this Indian summer), but he moved a step or two away while damning Dravid. He however keeps his foot in the Indian embassy's door by claiming that we need to stop talking about it and let the game get on. Sambhit Bal, seems to be the only person in the Indian media to criticize the Aussie media's double standards publicly. Kapil Dev as usual shoots his mouth off, but in measured tones this time and says Dravid must face the consequences of his action, but adds that he has not seen it on TV, but only read it. But the line that appears at the head of that article is the most damning. So Mr.Kapil Dev, stop spewing shit! And the company that manufactures the Kookaburra balls (incl. the fateful one that Dravid handled) says spit and mint can't do anything to the ball. So why this fuss. Tell that to Lloyd. The man says "It couldn't have been accidental because he's been fined" . Oh ya, Mr.Lloyd, we understand the sarcasm in your voice.