This article belongs to Australia - Land of the Free? column.
I sat down on Sunday evening and watched on television Australia's miracle win in the Second Cricket Test in Sydney. I thought it would be a good article for my column; I even had the title picked out 'Miracle in Sydney'. By the next morning however, the cricket was forgotten and the story was about the future of the game itself.
Let us go back to October 2007 when Afro-Australian cricketer Andrew Symonds - Andrew has West Indian origins - is racially abused by an Indian crowd on a seven match one day cricket tour. Members of the crowd jumped up and down like gorillas, spewed vitriol making animal noises when Symonds came out to bat.
On January the 4th 2008 Indian spin bowler Harbhajan Singh allegedly tapped Australian fast bowler Brett Lee on the backside. Andrew Symonds Lee's teammate saw the incident then approached Singh who allegedly called Symonds a monkey. The Australian Captain Ricky Ponting complained to umpires Buckner and Benson who reported Singh to the match referee Mike Proctor for a racial taunt.
On January the 6th Harbhajan Singh received a 3-match ban from the International Cricket Council for supposedly racially taunting Symonds.
Then the bombshell.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India declared that the Indian Team would suspend the four-match tour of Australia with two five-day test matches still to play pending the outcome of an appeal against the ban on Singh.
The Indian cricketers were also incensed by the poor standard of umpiring in the Second Test demanding the umpires not be appointed again. The captain of the Indian Cricket Team Anil Kumble accused the Australian players of not playing to the spirit of the game.
The trouble is that Harbhajan Singh denies he racially taunted Symonds, millions of Indians believe him including his teammates. But the question remains why would Symonds lie? There are three possibilities either Singh or Symonds were lying. The other possibility is what Singh said was misinterpreted. This could happen because the cultural differences between the two countries sometimes leads to misunderstandings.
The other possibility is the Indians would like to get out of the tour because they are being thrashed. They are already down 2 nil and could be beaten 4 nil. Their fantastic batting line-up with such stars as Tendulkar, Ganguly, Laxman, and Dravid have been dismissed twice under 200, once just over and once for over 500. Their bowling has failed to dismiss Australia for reasonable totals even though they have the great spinning talents of Harbhajan Singh and Kumble.
If the appeal doesn't go the way Indian wants it to and they go home it's like the boy who is dismissed for a duck then takes his bat and ball then goes home so no one else can play.
While Australia is by far the best cricketing nation in the world - the Sydney test was the sixteenth they have won in a row, in addition they are also the world one-day cricket champs - India has the most support and wields the strongest political muscle.
It will be interesting to see who wins this contest India or the ICC.
I predict the ICC will bend in the wind with Harbhajan Singh winning the day. This will mean that India is firmly in control of cricket and racist slurs are okay as long as they are directed at those terrible Australians who keep winning.