New Delhi:If you think it's only millions of distraught Indians who are backing the Turbinator, think again.
Spinner Harbhajan Singh, in the eye of a storm for alleged racist remarks against Australian cricketer Andrew Symonds, has received support from unexpected quarters.
What happened in Sydney on Saturday has upset every cricket lover in the world, even those in Australia.
An online poll on the Sydney Morning Herald website leaves little doubt how people feel about the sordid affair.
Only 14 per cent respondents think Harbhajan is guilty and deserved the three-match ban. An overwhelming 38 per cent of the 11,755 surfers who took part in the poll say 'Australia has long used sledging. They can dish it out, but can't take it'. If that's not an indictment of the national team, then what is?
There are similar outpourings on the ABC-Australia website. "Should just called him a Goose [which he is] is that a racist slur? Only Symonds heard the slur no one else and he's found guilty thank god where not in a court of law. To tell you the truth I'm sick of watching this crap and won't be watching cricket anymore", writes Allan.
"Harbhajan is partly a victim of a drift in standards in recent years. Plenty of Aussie players, including several current, would be getting lifetime bans these days if they said some of the things now that they used to. This cant be over-stated in my opinion. I have long been disappointed in the behaviour of some Aussie players, including some from my home state of Queensland," adds John.
Other Australian websites like couriermail.com.au are flooded with pro-Bhajji comments as well.
"I'm not taking sides here but racism is defined as: a belief or ideology that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially to distinguish it as being either superior or inferior to another race or races. Calling somebody a monkey doesn't fit into that category I'm afraid. It actually doesn't even come close. What we are seeing here is a classic case of society too concerned with reading into things a bit too much that causes authorities to act in the fear that they would have done something wrong by not acting. To classify this as sledging, verbal abuse, taunts, name calling is justified. To classify it as racism just insults most peoples intelligence," writes Mick from Brisbane.
Ian from Sydney wants cricketers to stop indulging in gamesmanship and get on with the game instead.
"The world is getting so politically correct and thin skinned that name calling is as bad as physical violence. I would understand a 3 test match ban if he had hit Roy over the head with a stump or bat. Hey you cricket men?? Stop hiding behind your skirts and play the game you are paid for. Name calling is in most team games to me it is part of the game. If you let it get to you on a personal level then take your bat and ball and stay home," he writes.
What is especially noteworthy are the online barbs directed at Australian captain Ricky Ponting. "I am sure that as Harbhajan's "Bunny", Ponting will be glad to see the back of him. Maybe he will spend a bit more time at the crease in the final two tests!!!!", quips Ian on the ABC-Australia website.
"I don't understand where the Aussie media is going. Its true we have to back our players. It shouldn't be to this extent. It was very clear that Ponting had grounded the catch and even then went for the appeal. Even Clarke was disappointing to say none the least. I don't feel Australia deserved to win this match," writes Don Daniel on the same website. "The picture says it all (referring to an image of Ricky Ponting making an appeal)...he may be able to play cricket but still lacks the ability to lead by example. I remember taking my kids to meet him and his cohorts at Drummoyne Oval for a promotional event. He was full of himself and downright rude to the assembled kids there," adds Mike M.
According to Val Moore of Chinchilla, "Cricket has always been a gentleman's game, but as a female Australian, I hang my head in shame at the dishonest behaviour of some of our illustrious players not to mention the inexcusable umpiring decisions. I sat glued to the coverage just to see what next injustice was to be handed to the Indian players. I applaud them for their tenacity and dignity in what must have seemed to them to be a fruitless mission. The ignoble captain of the Australian team certainly showed his true colours. He should try to play by the motto, " It matters not who wins, it is how you play the game".
Forget Australian websites, Aussies are making their disappointment with Ponting clear all over the World Wide Web.
"Let us look at like this that Symonds is only a smoke screen being used by Ricky to get Harbhajan out for the rest of the tournament for the former knows that the latter is a threat to his batting averages. It may even be at the cost of his own principles "what happens in the field, stays in the field". But then who cares. I don't know if Symond realizes this," writes Sam Johnson from Sydney on Timesonline.co.uk.
Such a show of support must be heartwarming for Harbhajan. It also comes as repartee to those who have been quick to write an obituary for cricket after the incidents at Sydney. The Gentleman's Game, Thank God, is alive and well!