Sydney, Jan 30: Terming the Board of Control for Cricket in India's threat to pull out of the tri-series in Australia if it does not get a favourable verdict in Harbhajan Singh racism row as "most nakedly aggressive action", columnist Peter Roebuck has lambasted the Indian Cricket Board for putting a "price on justice".
In a hard hitting column for the Sydney Morning Herald, Roebuck, who created quite a stir in Australia by calling Ricky Ponting's sacking for his team's lack of sportsmanship during the controversial second Test in Sydney, said India's "abominable" act has set a dreadful precedent in the world of cricket.
"India's performance in chartering a plane to take the players back home in the event of an independent judge finding against them in the Harbhajan Singh case counted amongst the most nakedly aggressive actions taken in the history of a notoriously fractious game," Roebuck wrote.
"It is high time the elders of the game in that proud country stopped playing to the gallery and considered the game's wider interests. India is not some tinpot dictatorship but an international powerhouse, and ought to think and act accordingly.
"Brinkmanship or not, threatening to take their bat and ball home in the event of a resented verdict being allowed to stand was an abomination. It sets a dreadful precedent. What price justice now?" he wrote.
Roebuck said India's flexing of muscles using its enormous clout in world cricket has dented its reputation of being a country which plays the game with fair means.
"Over the years, India have often been represented by gentlemen with high principles and a strong sense of sportsmanship. Australia have not been so fortunate. But it seems that power has corrupted.
"It was not an implied threat to the justice system. It was a direct challenge to it. India took part in the creation of the legal framework they disregarded. If the Indians had packed their bags, Australia should have refused to appear in India next season.
"India's conduct was deplorable. That the Australians have been carrying on like pork chops for years was no excuse. India had every right to stand against them, but not to undermine the rule of law. Posturing has cost them the high ground," the respected columnist wrote.
He even went to the extent of suggesting that the Indian board should be pulled up for its connection with Zimbabwean cricket authorities.
"Indeed, the time has come to take a closer look at the behaviour of the BCCI, not least its liaison with the thieves and thugs running Zimbabwean cricket. A man is known by the company he keeps."
Roebuck, however, said that the handing of a lesser punishment on Harbhajan by ICC-appointed judge John Hansen was expected as there was no concrete evidence.
"As was inevitable, Harbhajan's appeal was successful. Simply, there was not enough proof to justify a conviction. It does not matter what anyone thinks may have happened. Court cases are about facts, not opinions, or allegations or interpretations or guesses.
"Once the microphones and umpires could not back up the charges, the case was doomed. That does not make Harbhajan a hero. It is high time his seniors took him in hand. He has become a hothead with an unpleasant tongue," he wrote.
The former Somerset captain also had a dig at former India captain Sunil Gavaskar for criticising match referee Mike Procter who had handed a three-match ban on Harbhajan, a decision which India had appealed against and won.
"Procter is a cricketing man not versed in the intricacies of evidence and may not understand the difference between a balance of probabilities and reasonable doubt. That does not mean he deserves the venom directed at him by Sunil Gavaskar, also an employee of the ICC."