Cricket’s greatest rivalry is the Ashes for which England and Australia fight tooth and nail. India vs Australia is the next best rivalry now that India vs Pakistan cricket clashes are few and far between and held only after government clearance. For the record, the neighbours have not clashed in Test cricket since 2007.
India’s forthcoming tour of Australia for the 12th edition of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy has already preceded with some controversy with Sachin Tendulkar saying in his recently-launched autobiography that it was Andrew Symonds who provoked the off-spinner to abuse him in the Sydney Test of 2008. Tendulkar stressed that Harbhajan had not racially abused the Aussie all-rounder and did not call him a monkey.
On Sunday, batting legend Sunil Gavaskar wrote that the Australians might not lap up Tendulkar’s opinion about Monkeygate, but since the batting icon was closest to what transpired on the pitch, his view was a valid one.
Yesterday, an excerpt from Allan Border’s forthcoming book revealed that the Australian great was upset that his country’s board has to toe the line in order to avoid the Indians abandoning the tour. He indicated that Symonds was racially abused.
Most of us like our share of controversy and spice but there is a danger that too much of it will take away the sheen from this great India vs Australia rivalry.
For a series to succeed, the cricket has to be good. That is what will count in the end and not the number of times players get reported for on-field and off-field tiffs.
Contrary to what the doomsayers might reckon, this Australian summer could see some good contests between the Indians and Australians if the visitors play to potential like they did at Lord’s in the last English summer.
Doubtless, the Test and one-day contests will see some needle but the very fabric of the great rivalry cannot be ripped apart. That’s what an excessive amount of controversy can do.