Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Stones, glasshouses, Waugh of words

In a measured column written for a World Cup supplement that accompanied today’s Times of India, Steve Waugh comments on the recent slugfest between Sunil Gavaskar and Ricky Ponting. An extract:
“Arrogance is a very subjective thing. Indians might find our addressing seniors by their first names, and jokingly moving a senior official from a picture frame (for which Ponting was reprimanded by Cricket Australia and apologised later) thoroughly unacceptable, but that is our culture and not a manifestation of arrogance. Many of us view the Indians’ inability to carry their own bags from the team bus to the dressing room as evidence of class distinction, but with repeated trips to this part of the world we understand that this is the way here. Many Indians are at sea outside because they can’t adjust to the do-it-yourself culture abroad, and as a result are reluctant to move out of their hotel rooms. I feel this is why Indians were such poor travelers for so long. But young players are adjusting better these days...”
The full piece is thankfully non-acrimonious, especially given Gavaskar’s extremely foolish reference to the death of David Hookes. I enjoy Waugh’s writing, most of which really is his, not ghost-written. His tour diaries as well as his doorstop of a book Out of My Comfort Zone (which I wrote about here) are fine portraits of his personal growth – from a callow, insular young Australian with little knowledge of the world outside the Sydney suburb he lived in to a true global citizen, an ambassador for his country and for the game. Cricket lovers (especially those who have plenty of unforeseen free time now that India’s out of the WC) really should pick that book up. It’s a bit unwieldy in parts (what 800-pager wouldn’t be?) but more than worth it.


  1. Finally some sane words, especially when his brother tried to further inflame the issue.

    Is this a print-only article, or can it be found within the jungle of Shaadi.com Ads that is the ToI's abject apology of a web-site ? A link, if available would be appreciated.

  2. Agree with most of what Waugh had written, but can't bring myself to accept that Ponting had 'jokingly' pushed Sharad Pawar out of the picture when he did. Pawar had no business hanging around there to start with of course, but there certainly wasn't any element of fun in Ponting's (and Martyn's) action.

    I think Gavaskar had started a very stupid argument, but one that at best deserved indifference on the part of the Australians. He also made a very stupid and tasteless remark about Hookes's death in there.

    But Ponting has been equally stupid and should have kept quiet. Ponting argued against Gavaskar's talk of the Aussie arrogance by talking about how bad India's cricket standards are. That made no sense.

  3. Do we see any sledging ( is that what it is called ? ) between two white teams? ( Aus and SA seem to revel in dishing it out to all teams other than WI, NZ and England. Of course, it is altogether another matter that Pak have their own way of giving it back ).

    I do not mean to impute any overt racial intentions, but the mechanism seems to work anyways.

  4. Always wanted to buy that book and now that you say it is not ghostwritten, will definitely do so !

  5. WotW - white on white sledging is quite common. A few years back Graeme Smith mentioned it - http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/05/29/1022569795699.html. Also, in the last Ashes series, Collingwood was a favorite target.

    JW - agree that Gavaskar made an ill advised comment about David Hookes. He apologized a day or two later.

  6. Thanks for the link.

    This 'mental disintegration' thing is quite effective I must say. ( The 'texans' of this country also do practise a similar technique on the team sport arena. Now, don't ask me to qualify who they might be - JW might have guessed, he resides in their neighbourhood )

  7. nice blog

    Yes - Arrogance is defined differently for different people - but then "giving examples" can be interpreted differently by different people too !

    If your mom tells you "do not drive rashly ! dont u remember the fatal accident your neighbour got into ? " - you wont take offence to that - will you ?

    Then why is Gavaskar called "stupid" here ?

    My counter argument could be that - if arrogance is "interpreted" differently - then so can what gavaskar said be "interpreted differently"

  8. This obviously made news in Australia and in India.

    I remember glancing at the comments by readers on the news articles on rediff and on an australian news site (forget which one).

    Quite interestingly, most Australians commentors did agree that the Aussie team was arrogant (or atleast that Ponting had a thin skin) and that the Kiwis had just recently said similar things. I then looked up Rediff to see how Indian commentors reacted. I was in quite a hurry, so I remember they were swearing a lot. But I couldnt really make sense of whom they were swearing at.

    Ah my two pennies on the issue.

    ps: 6 degrees of seperation. My supervisor used to play cricket with Mark Waugh while they were kids. ;)

  9. Neha - interesting point about reader comments in Indian news sites & papers like Express or Rediff. More often than not they are expletive-strewn, misspelt (my favorite is the one about our coach Mr. Chappall), grammatically wrong, regional name-calling & mostly incoherent. Compare that with the reader comments one reads in the British or Australian papers, or even Cricinfo.

  10. Suraj: Brilliant argument. This whole thing of different people interpreting different things in different ways is quite fascinating.

    Jai: Why no blogs?

    Neha: Your supervisor had a great childhood. Ask her/him if Mark was as stylish then as well.

    To all: gkasbaol!

  11. very nice blog,I do not mean to impute any overt racial intentions, but the mechanism seems to work anyways. visit me soon....

  12. Yea, I've always thought Waugh is an outstanding writer, and it is not just because he writes his own stuff, but because he actually analyzes the game. I remember when the Aussies toured India in '02. The Times of India ran columns written by Gilchrist, Gillespie et al, and the quality was mediocre because it was formulaic: they'd throw in some player nicknames and utter the same platitudes about focus and excitement about the impending match.

    I find that England's Andrew Strauss and Matthew Hoggard are the only other ones who write fairly entertainingly.