Just three days ahead of the first Test between India and South Africa at Johannesburg, former skipper Sunil Gavaskar has sparked a controversy, claiming match referees are biased against Indian players.
Writing in a newspaper column, Gavaskar felt that the match referees tend to take out their angst against the Board of Control for Cricket in India by trying to get at its players.
Gavaskar was in no mood to mince his words and wrote, "There is a general belief that because the Indian players are rich and spoilt, they deserve to be put in their place and fining them won't make much of a difference to their pockets."
Talking about punishing players for any on-field dissent, Gavaskar cited an example from the ongoing Ashes series and wrote, " In Australia, when two players collided, the match referee decided it was not deliberate and let them of. But, having seen the way players from the subcontinent, especially players from India are treated for exactly the same transgression, the different standards are clear." (We have the desire to win: Pujara)
He also went on to defend Ishant Sharma, who was mocked at for suggesting that South African opener Quinton de Kock was lucky to get three successive tons. (Quinton de Kock was lucky: Ishant Sharma)
"If the same sort of opinion had been delivered by a South African or an Australian bowler about an Indian batsman, then it would have been called being combative, spirited and what not," Gavaskar wrote.
The series between India and South Africa has already seen a lot of banter, with a suggestion that the visitors are intimidated by the South African pace attack doing the rounds. Players from both camps have done their bit to substantiate and refute such claims as the three-match series ended 2-0 in favour of South Africa after the third and final game at the Centurion was abandoned due to rain. (India should shed mental block: Herschelle Gibbs)