Readers indifferent or hostile to cricket - or indeed sport generally - bear with me! This posting is only about cricket by way of background. Okay - let's get the background stuff out of the way. There is a 5 Test Series being played between Australia and India (international games - and yes American readers - the games can go five days without a result, except Australia play a highly aggressive turbo charged game meaning that their opponents have usually been steamrollered into submission well before the fifth day). Annoyingly, Australia are the best team in international cricket by a country mile. India are pretty good and the financial powerhouse of international cricket commanding dizzying sums as regards sponsorship TV rights etc and aren't afraid to use their financial clout to try and boss events. Rivalry is intense. End of background stuff.
Australia won the first two Tests. The atmosphere between the two teams was poisonous. Matters came to a head when Youvraj Singh, one of the Indian players, called Andrew Symonds (pictured - the only non-white member of the Australian team) a 'monkey'.
The matter was reported to the match referee who suspended Singh for three games. The outraged Indian team threatened to literally take their bats home and walk out of the remainder of the tour. Singh was unsuspended.
Now there is a history here. The Australians are past masters of the art of 'sledging' - verbal abuse of opponents on the field of play. The objective is intimidation and/or distraction of the opposing players and takes the form of insults as regards the opposing player's appearance, alleged personal habits, abilities (or lack of them), claims of a sexual nature as regards the player's wife and - yes - racial abuse. Australian Darren Lehmann got away with calling a Sri Lankan player (and this has never been disputed) a black word we don't use in polite society. Mark Ramprakash (mixed English/Guyanese background) said that the only time he had been seriously racially abused on the field of play was against Australia. This surly crew are somewhat bemused to discover that - while admired for their abilities - they are unloved by even half the population of Australia. It is against this background that Singh opened his mouth and - in mitigation of him - although to the Western mind to call a black man a 'monkey' is beyond outrageous - I strongly suspect he hadn't a clue what buttons he was pushing.
What happened next?
Well the Third Test was played in Perth. Everyone was on their best behaviour and having won their last 16 games on the reel....
Ha! Ha! Ha!
The rest of the cricketing world was rolling on the floor laughing.
A modest proposal and a parting shot...
The modest proposal: why not ban sledging?
The parting shot: Australian Glenn McGrath was annoyed at his inability to get Zimbabwean number 11 Eddo Brandes out and asked (hardly an incisive or witty sledge) "Why are you so fat?"
To which Brandes replied "Because every time I make love to your wife, she gives me a biscuit."
The biter bit...