- Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh's racial abuse case appears to have taken a new twist with claims that Aussie all-rounder Andrew Symonds had possibly misinterpreted a derogatory Punjabi phrase which sounded like 'monkey'.
The Indian team is now expected to argue at Singh's appeal hearing that he called Symonds a Maa Ki... (a derogatory word for abusing one's mother) in his native tongue.
This is the defence Harbhajan will put forward? That he didn't say "monkey", so it wasn't a racist comment, but that he did say something that would have offended any Indian; and in translation, would have offended anyone in the world?
I am not that concerned about Harbhajan actually saying that on the field: while offensive, it's what the intense heat of competition sometimes brings out in sportsmen. (Check the Sarwan-McGrath blowup).
But I am concerned about this astonishing wriggle, only to evade the racism charge. Is it our case that saying "monkey" would have been somehow worse than saying "maa ki ..."? If so, why the parallel effort to show that "monkey" is not offensive in India anyway? And is this what the "honour" of "every Indian", that the BCCI referred to in its official statement, depends on?