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Spitting isn't cricket

GLENN McGrath may or may not be a great fast bowler. That is a matter open to debate. When he has bowled well all over the world, no matter what the conditions, then perhaps a judgement can be passed on that. But right now one judgement can be passed -- McGrath is unable to stomach any situation that seems to be going against him. He loses it all and reacts in an unbecoming manner.

Anybody who saw tape of the spitting incident knows that McGrath wasn't doing it because his mouth was full up. The intention was to offend, to indicate contempt. And he has no fig leaf to cover himself with -- he has been involved in similar incidents time and again. It is worthwhile noting that the only other cricketer to be accused with such an offence was also an Australian -- Merv Hughes. You, gentle reader, are free to draw your own conclusions.

Not for nothing is the label "ugly Australian" attached to these cricketers. Take Steve Waugh's reaction to his dismissal by Nehemiah Perry in Jamaica. He made an almighty scene about it. And there was no inquiry, no condemnation in the media, nothing. You would have almost thought the man had walked! And the media quietly circled its wagons and quietly consigned the incident to anonymity. This business of circling the wagons has happened again with McGrath. The Australian press is loath to criticise its own.

One thing is evident: the Australians are extremely agressive on the field but when someone exhibits the same kind of behaviour towards them, then they start to whinge. Lara let them have a bit of their own medicine but they couldn't swallow it. They claim to love a good battle but I personally don't think they have the stomach for it. They love giving out such stuff to the English players because few of them react as loutishly.

This bunch would never have dared to try this kind of stuff with the likes of Viv Richards. Boy, would he have murdered them on the field. It is instructive that McGrath generally tries this manner of intimidation only with players who are fairly new. He tried to get up the nose of Robert Samuels in Perth in 1997 as well.

The Australian team has suddenly developed another tactic as well -- not knowing whether they have caught the ball or not! Is this is a team which has lost all sensation in their fingers? It is a clever ploy to take a bump ball and then wait for the TV replay; quite often, the parallax error ensures that the ball is seen entering the hands cleanly. And then, it is time for celebrations. Contrast this with the way Corey Collymore walked at the end of the last Test even when the umpire negated the appeal. One need say no more.

Winning by playing hard is a part of the game. But when one stoops to childish gestures to gain an advantage, then it should be condemned. It is easy to evade the issue and say that the TV footage was inconclusive. All one can say is that if this is the claim, then a lot of folk need to have their eyes examined.