The verdict is out and Harbhajan has been cleared of the racism charge. After the extreme drama where Mike Procter handed out the initial judgement to the constant pressures applied by the BCCI, this has been the ugliest story of the cricketing season. While the suspension was pushed away until this hearing so that the tests could proceed as planned, BCCI took to extraordinary tactics to put pressure on ICC and CA (Cricket Australia). They threatened to cancel the tour, kept their players in Adelaide etc.
Predictably, the Aussie media retaliated with criticism of the reversal of the charge against Harbhajan. They all talk about how CA & ICC bent over to accomodate BCCI. However, the Australians are missing the point. There issue snowballed because (a) Ricky Ponting decided to escalate the issue despite Kumble's suggestion not to (b) the obviously biased Mike Procter gave a horrendous decision where he took one man's word over another's. That the trusted party was white does not help matter.
Australians need to understand that this isn't the first time Indians and Asians have been at the receiving end of such treatment. The Mike Deniss incident was another case in point. It is the pent up frustration of this treatment at the hands of non-Asian teams and match referrees that has led to this.
If BCCI put on pressure, its only because ICC and CA would understand only that language. The fact is that the first judgement was wrong that the only right thing was its reversal. Is it so difficult for anyone to see? In what court of law would you proceed on one man's word over the other? If it can't be proved that Harbhajan uttered the racist comments, then obviously the charge against him is without basis. I am not a big fan of BCCI. It is a powerful yet greedy organization which has never cared for the betterment of cricket. But on this issue, I support their actions. It is a matter of national pride, an assertion of identity. Non-Asian teams have rolled over the Asians for years now with the consent of the ICC. Now, there's no need to take that kind of nonsense anymore. I can clearly see how only BCCI could have achieved this. Imagine if this would have happened with a less influential cricketing board like Sri Lanka. Do you think the player would have had a second trial and be exonerated? That being said, players like Harbhajan and Sreesanth need to be told by the BCCI to conduct themselves better on the field. For all the drama, Harbhajan had a very ordinary series and I would definitely rather pick Murali Karthik for the upcoming series against the South Africans. Put your performances where your mouth is. There is a reason no one sledges Tendulkar.