"Told ya so!" That's what every sporting cricket fan (and the Australian cricket team) will be saying following the Harbhajan Singh (a.k.a Bhajji) - Sreesanth incident at the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket game earlier today. Let's be real. We all know that Bhajji and Sreesanth are two of the most fiercely competitive and vocally active members of the Indian cricket team.
But one tight slap to the face, Bollywood-style? That's inexcusable. While we derive a certain voyeuristic pleasure from the tight slap when we see it served in a movie, it has quite the opposite effect when the action is real. In all my years of watching (and playing) cricket (albeit at the high-school and college levels), I have never seen anyone break down like this, let alone at the global stage. Then again, the IPL primarily serves sports entertainment anyway. That is what I had suggested before the inaugural game. I have not seen much at all to deviate from that initial assessment. For all we know, they might just enjoy all this buzz.
Note to IPL management: You guys better take some control of this. It took the IPL one week to do what non-IPL cricket has not seen for decades. Way to bring a game to disrepute.
Note to Preity Zinta: You further solidified your image as merely an attention-seeker, and it would have been nice to see you stand up for your players. You were clearly not there when they needed you most. All right, so perhaps you didn't want fans of Bhajji to stop watching your movies. Fair enough. But see the independence issue here?
What should happen: Bhajji should be suspended indefinitely, if not banned for life. No question about it. What he did was beyond disgraceful.
What I hope does not happen: There is and will be every effort on Bhajji's behalf to draw attention away from the issue. He even said: "It's not a big issue, people are making it a big issue." Ignorance in denial. And I thought I was in denial, still referring to Aishwarya as Ms. Rai. What I hope does not happen is an 'I've apologized, he's accepted' kind of situation.
Why this hurts: Bhajji was the acting Mumbai team captain. Speaks volumes of our leadership. Volumes of its incompetence, that is.
The silver lining: Believe it or not, there is a silver lining to this. My initial reactions quickly went from a standard 'you've got to be kidding' to 'thank God it wasn't an Indian player slapping a Pakistani player, or vice versa'. Can you even imagine what that would have meant?
What do you think?
Have we not seen enough from Bhajji to still want to not punish him?
Harbhajan suspended temporarily.
If found guilty, Bhajji could get life ban. Even better. I hate to sound ruthless and all, but here is a chance for the board to draw a line and set a precedent. Keeping fingers crossed.
From this article:
...they may claim that they are brothers. But unlike Sholay's Jay and Veeru, whose dosti is a folklore, their friendship or the lack of it will be perhaps one of the most embarrasing episodes in Indian cricket.Addendum 4/28:
Bhajji banned for rest of the IPL season. Good!
Umpire Hair returns at Old Trafford. Bad :(