Gilchrist criticises Tendulkar in new book

Retired Australian vice-captain Adam Gilchrist has questioned India’s sportsmanship and has singled out their greatest player, Sachin Tendulkar, for special criticism.

The match-winning wicketkeeper-batsman, who retired from the game earlier this year, claims in a new book that the biggest difference between Australia and India is that his former teammates left hostilities on the field while many of their antagonists often snubbed their opponents.

Gilchrist’s autobiography, to be released next week and with extracts to be printed in this weekend’s press, centres on the hostilities between the two cricketing powers in Australia last summer, which escalated after the Indians claimed Australia had not played in the spirit of the game.

Gilchrist pointed to tensions with Tendulkar, Test cricket’s all-time leading run-getter, revealing he was ”hard to find for a changing-room handshake after we have beaten India”.

He also questioned Tendulkar’s honesty during the acrimonious Harbhajan Singh-Andrew Symonds incident last January.

Writing about the dramatic final moments of the Sydney Test when India’s last two batsmen, Anil Kumble and Ishant Sharma, walked off without any Australians offering a handshake, Gilchrist said: ”We went into the Indian changing room and shook hands.

”Not all their players could be found, which points to another subtle cultural difference.

”In the Australian mentality, we play it hard and are then quick to shake hands and leave it all on the field.

”Some of our opponents don’t do it that way. Sachin Tendulkar, for instance, can be hard to find for a changing-room handshake after we have beaten India. Harbhajan can also be hard to find.

”I guess it’s a case of different strokes for different folks. But the criticism of us for not immediately shaking hands with Kumble and Sharma was unfair, and typified a moment when everything we did was wrong.”

Gilchrist also criticised both the Indian and Australian cricket boards for their handling of the Harbhajan case, which he said drove ”a stake through the entire summer”.

Symonds claimed that Harbhajan called him a monkey, which Gilchrist said began when the spinner patted Brett Lee on the backside as they passed mid-pitch.

Gilchrist accused the Indian board of ”playing politics” and Cricket Australia and the International Cricket Council of ”caving in” when the spinner’s original charge was downgraded and his suspension quashed.

”The Indian board made threats that they would take the team home — a disgraceful act, holding the game to ransom unless they got their way,” Gilchrist said.

He also claimed Tendulkar changed his story in an appeal conducted by the ICC.

”Tendulkar, who’d said at the first hearing that he hadn’t been able to hear what Harbhajan had said — and he was a fair way away, up the other end [of the pitch], so I’m certain he was telling the truth — now supported Harbhajan’s version that he hadn’t called Symo [Symonds] a ‘monkey’ but instead a Hindi term of abuse that might sound like ‘monkey’ to Australian ears,” Gilchrist said.

”The Indians got him off the hook when they, of all people, should have been treating the matter of racial vilification with the utmost seriousness.”

Tensions have continued in Australia’s current series in India with paceman Zaheer Khan fined 80% of his match fee for his ”send-off” of Matthew Hayden in the second Test in Mohali earlier this week. — Sapa-AFP

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