Australia's Haigh gets into war of words with Harsha Bhogle

Sep 25, 2013, 00:57 IST | A Correspondent

The unresolved controversy over India's tour of South Africa has resulted in a war of words between two big names in the media: India's Harsha Bhogle and Gideon Haigh from Australia.

On September 20, Bhogle wrote a column for in which he said: “South Africa, for example, can ask themselves why they got into a situation where their cricket economy was so dependent on an external power that is always more likely to do what suits itself first. It is just likely that one of the conclusions will be that it was the easy, lazy option to take.

Harsha Bhogle and Gideon Haigh
Harsha Bhogle and Gideon Haigh

If an Indian tour guaranteed a lot of money, it also meant that you didn’t need to create other parallel revenue sources to insure against untoward happenings. And it would seem to me, even if I am looking at it from afar, that other cricket playing countries too therefore need to create such a parallel economy.” 

On Monday, Haigh blogged in The Australian under the headline ‘Harsher Bhogle’: “The irony is that Bhogle elsewhere purports to deplore ‘lazy thinking’; yet what could be lazier than what in another context would be deemed flagrant populist dog-whistling? Bhogle’s argument can be condensed to this: CSA deserve whatever’s coming to them because they depended on ‘easy money’ from an Indian cricket tour.

But what was ‘easy’ about this money? Through chance, luck and stupendous, cumulative effort, the cricket system of a country with a heroic and tragic history has welded together the best team in the world. Everyone with a cricket bone in their body looks forward to that team meeting India’s team on the field – their encounters have yielded some of the most brilliant Test cricket of the last decade.

A tour was set down in a FTP endorsed by the ICC executive board three years ago. Now there’s a chance the tour won’t occur, for reasons on which the BCCI declines to elaborate, with potentially devastating financial consequences for CSA.”

Both writers came up with classic lines. First, Bhogle: “There is a proverb inducted into English from its Swahili original: when elephants jostle, what gets hurt is the grass. It is a particularly appropriate moment to quote from that part of the world since that is what is likely to happen this year to the average SA cricketer.”

Now, Haigh: “Sport is about rivalry, not destruction; the point of a sporting contest is to win on the field, not to subjugate or even annihilate your opponent off it, because by that in the long term you also lose.” 

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