Those of you following the current cricket controversy in Australia will be aware of the basic facts. During the recent test Indian cricketer Harbhajan Singh allegedly called black Australian player Andrew Symonds a “monkey”. Now this may seem like a simple case of kneejerk racism and unacceptable, but it is amazing how both sides have spun the story until it is now out of all context and control. For example, as Marina Hyde reports, Raj Natarajan the President of Australia’s United Indian Association offered this opinion to calm things down. “Considering that the monkey god is one of the revered idols of Hindu mythology and worshipped by millions it is surprising that it was considered a racist term.

Well I love the PG Tips monkeys but you don’t see me throwing bananas on the pitch at my favourite tea loving footballers. As Marina’s piece goes on to say, the big problem is not just the racism (or lack of) that lies in these comments, it is that within cricket the concept of sledging is not just allowed, it is in some instances celebrated. Cricket is to some extent a psychological game, test cricket to the degree that the physical stamina in staying at the crease for eight hours subsides to the mental stamina of that much concentration. When you add in the personal insults, the false calls and the slurs upon your wife – you can see how sledging has become accepted despite the view in the laws of “The Spirit Of The Game“.

All of which is nothing compared to this quite frankly remarkable article from a New Zealand newspaper which protests Singh’s innocence on a completely different front. Namely that it was not racist to describe Symonds as a monkey, rather it was accurate, as Symonds does indeed look like a monkey. A claim not just undermined by being miles off beam, but also by pairing a photo of Symonds with a monkey which he bears absolutely no passing resemblance to.

(Link from Pete W on ILX whose cricket thread is always worth it)