What happened at Mohali needs to be condemned. It is not an incident that Harbhajan Singh or S. Sreesanth would like to remember but they should also not forget that being role models for youngsters they have to set examples.
I will not pass a judgement on who was right and who was not. As far as I am concerned, the images of a weeping Sreesanth were bad for the game. Cricket has seen such ugly incidents in the past too but what makes me sad is the fact that these two have made Indian cricket a laughing stock.
Only Harbhajan knows what was it that provoked him to slap Sreesanth. Being a senior, I think he should have controlled his emotions. There would also be a counter-argument that Sreesanth should have known to respect a senior. Sreesanth should have known to what limits he could have gone when making a comment.
I must share an incident from my playing days. It was in 1982 during the Deodhar Trophy tournament. West Zone had lost to South badly with Karsan Ghavri coming in for some punishment from Bharat Reddy. In the evening we were all at Yograj Singh's house for a dinner he had hosted to celebrate his son's (Yuvraj Singh) birthday.
It was a pleasant evening and we all were enjoying the banter between Ghavri and me. More guys joined and it was Reddy's turn to tease Ghavri. Everyone seemed to be enjoying this when suddenly Ghavri, who was my room partner, lost his temper rightly and slapped me hard. It was a booming blow and I saw stars. Reddy too was not spared.
It was an off-the-field incident and obviously most of those present were taken aback at what had happened. But then Ghavri was probably justified because we had made his evening miserable. We deserved the slap. I forgot it soon. So did Reddy. But that day I learnt a lesson the hard way. One should know the extent to which such banter could be carried.
For some time now Sreesanth had been attracting attention for his aggression and antics on the field. I am not concerned with what he does off the field. It is his behaviour on the field that worries me. Regardless of what he said to Harbhajan, my point is why did it reach this stage. Do they not share the same dressing room when playing for India? Are they not grown men representing their country and commanding a huge following among the young generation?
The Australians will enjoy this episode, which was waiting to happen. Thank God it happened off the field. Let Harbhajan deny and let Sreesanth bury this incident by saying that it was a minor thing between them and it had been sorted out. But history will record that the incident did happen. I still feel the stinging slap from Ghavri. I am sure Sreesanth too would remember, look to control himself, and learn from it, just as I did 26 years ago.
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