Ricky, the taxi driver just wasn't having it. He'd overheard me say that I thought Michael Holding and Shane Warne were the best bowlers this world has ever seen. "Ah beg tu diffa" came over the loudspeaker. "Malcolm Marshall was da best o dem all". After some discussion we agreed that another Barbadian, Sir Garfield Sobers was the best cricketer ever. And we also agreed about the present rumpus going on in Australia.
There can be no argument about Barbados producing more pounds of world class cricketer per square inch that anywhere else in the world. Apart from Sobers and Marshall, there's Joel Garner, Gordon Greenage (?) and the three Ws, Worrell, Weekes and Walcott amongst several others. And there are more people living in Cardiff than the entire population of Barbados.
But back to the goings on in Australia. Neither of us knew what was to be done. But both of us would have preferred Ponting to have acted differently. Ricky, felt strongly about this, because it could be that in the end, Buckner (a Barbadian and a fine and fair umpire) will probably turn out to be the only one who is punished . My own view of this is coloured by my preference for men to sort out things amongst themselves rather than resort to 'government' to do it for them.
The row stems from accusations that Harbhajan Singh called Australian batsman, Andrew Symonds a monkey, a reference to his ethnic background. Harbhajan denies this - but has been suspended for 3 matches anyway. Its one man's word against another. Unfair accusations of racism are wrong, as well as racism itself. Inevitably, the Indians have kicked up a fuss, and there is no obvious way out of the mess. I would prefer if Ponting had informed Buckner that he wanted to go for a pee, marched into the Indian dressing room, demanded a meeting with the captain, and another with Harbhajan, a full apology, assurances that it would not happen again etc.. And that is after sorting out whether he said it, of course.
But we are where we are. The match referee has decided. It really would be an outrage if the authorities back down. Any backtracking would be as a result of political and financial pressure (there is more money in Indian cricket than the rest of the world put together). The message about stamping out racism would be weakened, rather than what was intended by the new rules. It may well be that the tour will be suspended and world cricket thrown into turmoil. But that's what happens whenever 'government' becomes involved in things. Ricky has a very low opinion of his namesake, Ponting after this - and it wasn't high before. There is a growing world wide dislike of the current Australian team. And I suspect there is no-one more opposed to racism in sport than a Barbadian taxi driver.