New Delhi - A leading Indian commentator has hit out at the
"toxicity" blighting the series against Australia, and called for
both sides to show restraint before the winner-takes-all final Test begins
Harsha Bhogle fears that the glorification of aggressive
on-field behaviour by media on both sides and passions boiling over could harm
Test cricket's reputation with the series on a knife-edge at 1-1.
The latest barbs have seen India skipper Virat Kohli dubbed
"the Donald Trump of sport" in one Australian newspaper and former
Test bowler Geoff Lawson accusing Kohli of acting like "your worst behaved
India's newspapers fired back with the Hindustan Times
accusing Australian media of a relentless "hate campaign" throughout
"Friends in Australia tell me they are perturbed by the
toxicity this series has generated. Cricket lovers in India saying so
too," Bhogle said on Twitter.
"If we have to use toxicity and divisiveness to spread
our game, we are using a short-term approach that can only be harmful,"
added the veteran Indian TV cricket analyst.
"I am particularly perturbed by the fact that some of
us in the media are promoting this divisiveness and taking sides to spread
Tensions have been ramped up since Kohli stopped just short
of accusing Australian captain Steve Smith of cheating in the aftermath of the
second Test in Bangalore, which India won to level the series at 1-1.
The rancour was inflamed in the drawn third Test in Ranchi
as Australia batted out the fifth day for a draw and all-rounder Glenn Maxwell
was accused of mocking Kohli's shoulder injury.
Now the Daily Telegraph newspaper says Kohli is behaving
like a bully and accused the Indian cricket board and match officials of
letting him get away it.
"Kohli has become the Donald Trump of world
sport," Ben Horne wrote in his column in the Daily Telegraph.
"The Indian captain is a law unto himself with no one -
not even the ICC or his own board - holding him accountable for his continual
perpetuation of fake news."
Horne was referring to Kohli's assertion, without offering
evidence, that Smith's look up to the dressing room for guidance in Bangalore
over whether to review an lbw decision was not a one-off.
The ICC brought Smith and Kohli together for a clear-the-air
meeting after that Test, where Smith claimed the incident was a "brain
And Lawson slated the Indian skipper for not displaying
"As a leader and as a captain of a cricket team where
you've got lots of responsibilities, you've got to show more gravitas and
responsibility than this. These sorts of actions are those of your worst
behaved player," he told Fox Sports.
Bhogle said it was time the media stopped fanning the flames
before lasting damage was done to Test cricket.
"A lot of us entered this profession because we love
sport and had the opportunity to talk/write about it. We didn't enter to spread
toxicity," he tweeted.