It is really disheartening to hear and read about how the leading sports persons of our time have been using their criticisms of other greats to sell ‘books’. The latest to join this list is former Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting, in criticizing Sachin Tendulkar– who has long been considered not only one of the greatest cricketers, but one of the greatest sportspersons ever- for his ‘role’ in the infamous ‘Monkeygate’ incident. Sachin has been hailed for his modesty and humility in achieving all that was ever there to achieve in his sport and still never attempting to put himself before the sport.
Ponting claims that Tendulkar made ‘false testimonies’ during the court hearing of the Monkeygate case. The case- which involved the accusation by Australian players during the Sydney test in 2008 that veteran Indian bowler Harbhajan Singh had made a racial comment on Australian Andrew Symonds- has since been in the news for some reason or the other.
Ponting is not the first player to have criticized Tendulkar for the reason. In the past, cricketers like Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist have also accused Tendulkar of the same in the respective post-retirement memoirs. Ironically, they have, in the very same books, heaped praises on Tendulkar, but it has been the criticism that has repeatedly been highlighted, leading to an increase in sales and thus achieving its intended target. In fact Hayden even remarked (in the same book) –‘I have seen God. He bats at No. 4 for India’- referring to Tendulkar’s batting position.
Gilchrist even remarked in his book True Colors, that ‘Sachin was the hardest to find for a post-match handshake after a loss’. Well, we suppose Gilly is all smiles after losing a match and comes out all aplomb to shake hands with the opposing team. Moreover, for a player who is as attached to the game and his country as Sachin, to come out immediately after a loss is self-admittedly ‘immensely difficult’.
When the incident had actually happened, Cricket Australia had actually been the ones responsible for suppressing their players’ accusation and criticisms for the very sake that the series carries on. Had the players actually had any doubts about the truth and legitimacy involved in Tendulkar’s testimony, they could easily have expressed it to the board. The very act of criticizing a statesman and ambassador of the game after retiring, virtually at ‘no risk’, seems very peculiar.
Moreover, what else should Sachin have done at that juncture- gone against one of his closest teammates? We are, in no way, saying that he lied or tampered with his original statement, but what would the Aussies have done in such a situation? This was the very test match which also witnessed a few other such incidents which saw the Australians going against the spirit of the game. The Aussies are, in fact, well known for retorting to sly and cunning strategies and have historically been accused repeatedly of such acts – from the ‘underarm’ incident to the Sydney Test. And they have also perpetually been the first to complain in case of any trivial occurrence.
In short, the Aussies deserved what they got – plain flak.