I can’t see how these various explanations from past Australian greats is helping improve the situation that has now turned into a stand-off.
Take Steve Waugh’s words for example:
Nevertheless, he doesn’t believe Australia should apologise for their attitude. "Teams playing against Australia fail to understand that banter, gamesmanship, sledging or whatever anyone would like to call it is just the way Australian kids joust and play in the schoolyard and backyards. On the other hand, Australian teams can’t stomach time-wasting and perceived manipulation of the rules, including calling for runners, over-appealing and the alleged altering of the condition of the ball."
So the point to be noted here is that the Australians only indulge in "banter, gamesmanship, sledging or whatever anyone would like to call it" while all the other teams are cheaters since they waste time, manipulate rules, call for runners (if it’s Hayden, it’s ok), alter the ball and over-appeal (Ponting may have picked up the bad habit due to excessive touring).
It’s insane. The amount of double-standards coming out of Australia right now from their past bowlers. I can’t even say it’s pot calling the kettle black. It’s more like the devil calling his ward evil!
Coming back to the entire racist comment scenario, here is Andrew Symonds’ admission:
"Brett Lee had just sent down a delivery and Harbhajan took off down the wicket. When he was returning to his crease, he decided to hit Brett on the backside. I have no idea why he did it,” Symonds was quoted as saying by the Herald Sun newspaper of Australia.
So interestingly, he decided he needed to get involved in whatever Harbhajan and Lee were doing. Did Lee ask him to? No. And Symonds admits to it:
"I was standing nearby and when I saw what happened, I thought, ‘Hold on, that’s not on’. I’m a firm believer in sticking up for your team-mate so I stepped in and had a bit of a crack at Harbhajan, telling him exactly what I thought of his antics. He then had a shot back, which brings us to the situation we’re facing."
Ah, ha! Now, to me, it seems like Symonds, a bystander, decided he wanted to be the aggrieved party. What he said to Harbhajan, no one knows. Isn’t it just possible that he may have instigated Bhajji? Perhaps what he said holds the key to what (if at all) Harbhajan said something offensive.
If we were to look back at the poor standard of conduct Australia has got away with and the racist or otherwise unacceptable behaviour from them, one just has to think back to Michael Slater screaming at Rahul Dravid (video link), Glenn McGrath shouting at Ramnaresh Sarwan when McGrath started with the gamesmanship, shall we call it? Then there’s Darren Lehmann making a racist remark against Sri Lanka or Dean Jones deciding (while on air) that Hashim Amla was a terrorist because he is Muslim (see video; remark at 0:59).
Australian players on most occasions got away with mild "rap on the wrist" (Lehmann was banned for five matches; McGrath fined) sentences while here, for an alleged remark that has no proof, Harbhajan Singh is facing a three-Test ban.
Another angle to look at is the anti-India brigade. Mike Denness, Mike Procter… they seem to prefer punishing Indian sub-continental players more than others. Isn’t that racist? Why, for instance, were six Indian players pulled up by Denness when Shaun Pollock too appealed excessively in the same Test? Why wasn’t Glenn McGrath banned for three Tests when Roshan Mahanama claimed that McGrath called Jayasuriya a "Black Monkey"?
The ICC’s toothlessness in general is evident from this statement by erstwhile president Malcolm Gray as he was completing his term in office:
Lehmann is back playing cricket. He even played the World Cup final. The McGrath and Lehmann incidents occurred during Gray’s term as ICC president. He then tells the world, while handing over the ICC reins to Ehsan Mani, that racism exists. But what did he do about it?
The trouble is, what happens now? Fact is, Ricky Ponting still doesn’t think there’s anything seriously wrong going on!
Also see: Sack the racists and save cricket (India Express, 2001)