ON A day when the fifth fastest century in Test cricket was scored, there was a sharp reminder of how the white man still rules what is essentially a colonial game.
The West Indies captain, Chris Gayle, put the Australian attack to the sword in the second half of the second day of the third Test to make 102, with a display of clean hitting that hasn’t been seen since Adam Gilchrist made a 57-ball Test hundred against England in 2006-07 at the same ground.
But it was the ugly clash between players that was the standout incident of the day – more so, considering the type of justice that was meted out.
West Indies off-spinner Sulieman Benn, a feisty character, was bowling when Australian wicket-keeper Brad Haddin angrily remonstrated with him for running into Mitchell Johnson while trying to field on his follow-through.
Haddin had no business getting involved in what was an accidental clash between Benn and Johnson.
But he did, and thereafter things hotted up. Benn fielded the next ball as Haddin stroked it down the pitch and made as if to throw down the wickets at his (Haddin’s) end. Haddin pulled away from the wicket and extended a hand to Benn, inviting him to throw the ball. There was no need to do that unless he wanted to aggravate the situation further.
When the over was bowled, Benn began to make some comments to Haddin who was coming up to mid-pitch to have the normal chat with Johnson that batsmen have between overs.
Johnson brushed Benn’s hand as he came up and this led to Benn pushing him away. Yes, Johnson made the first contact.
It was only at this point that umpire Billy Bowden got involved and asked the players to stay apart.
But, strangely, when match referee Chris Broad adjudicated, Benn was charged with a level two offence and Haddin and Johnson with level one offences.
Broad penalised Benn one Test or two one-day games. Haddin was asked to forfeit 25 percent of his match fee and Johnson will lose 10 percent.
Apparently, those who contest the charge get stiffer penalties; Benn contested the charge while the two Australians did not.
Haddin was the agent provocateur; if he had minded his own business, nothing would have happened. Johnson is old enough to look after himself and has been in the team much longer than Haddin; if he was a junior player and at the start of his career, one can understand Haddin’s involvement.
Yet Benn earned a heavier penalty than the two Australians.
Broad has form in this regard – last year when Australia was in India, Gautam Gambhir and Shane Watson collided on the pitch and Gambhir copped the heavier penalty, a one-match ban. Watson forfeited 10 percent of his match fee.
In the same series, India’s Zaheer Khan was fined for a verbal exchange with Matthew Hayden; the latter was widely known as one of the most foul-mouthed players in his time.
A third incident in the same series: Australian captain Ricky Ponting earned not even a rebuke for continuing to appeal long after the umpire had ruled Virender Sehwag not out on a lbw appeal. But he did not earn even a rebuke from Broad.
It’s interesting to recall that when Broad, a former England opener, was given out in the Sydney bicentennial Test in 1988, he knocked all three stumps out of the ground with his bat in anger and was fined £500, the maximum possible fine at the time
It looks as though the ICC takes every chance it gets to penalise the countries that line up behind India when it comes to voting. India is the powerhouse in the cricketing world and the white members of the ICC just hate this – they long for the days when they were making the decisions. This is their one way of getting back at the coloured nations – appoint a match referee who can get a bit of their own back.