In India cricket is not treated like a sport, it is followed like a religion. Indians all across the globe are united by this immense passion and deep emotional attachment to the sport. Indian cricketers are naturally showered with an incredible amount of love and appreciation.
However, with the immense popularity comes the reality of public scrutiny. The same goes for Indian cricket and Indian cricketers who have had their share of controversies, some big, some small. Here is a list of the what we think have been the top 10 controversies of Indian cricket till date.
1. Harbhajan Singh and the Andrew Symonds saga
A lot of you must remember this incident, for the sheer scale that it escalated to back then. But for those of you who don’t, let’s refresh your memory. Back in 2008, the 2nd Ind-Aus Test match was being held at the Sydney Cricket Ground. It was during this that match that an altercation occurred between Indian off-spinner Harbhajan (aka Bhajji) and Aussie all-rounder Andrew Symonds. Apparently, Andrew launched unprovoked remarks at Harbhajan, in response to which Harbhajan allegedly called Symonds ‘a big monkey’. Symonds took offence to the remark and the umpires had to intervene. The play got delayed for a few minutes, and the umpires slapped Bhajji with a 3 match ban for being racially abusive. The player, however, appealed against the ban, and it was overturned post a hearing into the matter.
2. Sourav Ganguly’s controversial connection with Nagma
Sourav Ganguly aka Dada is often referred to as one of the most eccentric players in India. He made the news many times during his career. But in 2001, the Indian cricketer was in news for something rather personal. Just before India was to appear for the 2001 India-Australia series, the news about Ganguly’s affair started doing rounds. It was reported that Ganguly had an affair with South Indian actress Nagma, while already being married to wife Dona. As per the report, before 2001 series, he visited a temple in Andhra Pradesh to perform a pooja with the actress, meant for married couples. While all those involved denied the allegations, the news did not die easily. However, Ganguly’s wife stood by her husband and denied all the rumors.
3. A criminal case filed against MS Dhoni
Yes, even one of the most beloved Indian cricketers is on this list. And here’s why! Not too long ago in 2015, someone filed a criminal case against Dhoni in Bengaluru. Yes, a criminal case! The petitioner filed the case stating that the player had denigrated Hindu Lord Vishnu to pose for a magazine advertorial, and had hurt Hindu sentiments. The case was however dismissed by the Supreme Court of India in 2016, stating procedural fault in the implementation of the case.
4. Virat Kohli fined for misbehaving with Sydney crowd
In 2012, during a test match between India and Australia Kholi lost his cool and resorted to showing the middle finger to the crowd in Sydney ground. Even though the Indian cricketer claimed that it was a response to the abuses being hurled in from the crowd; he still had to pay the price. In addition to the incident making news, the player had to pay 50 per cent of his match fee as fine.
5. Gautam Gambhir’s argument with Shahid Afridi
6. Sourav Ganguly and Greg Chappell debacle
This particular controversy made the biggest waves in Indian cricket scene. And it started with the highly publicised appointment of Greg Chappell as the Indian coach in 2005. Even though Ganguly himself was actively involved in Greg’s selection as the coach, things did not remain cordial for long.
The coach believed that Ganguly should focus on getting back into form instead of the captaincy, and asked him to step down from the captaincy. This did not go down well with either the player or his fans. But the cricketer was still dropped from the team on accord of ‘poor form’. This led to pro-Ganguly and anti-Chappell protests in the player’s hometown by his fans who wanted him back. Many of his teammates supported him, including Harbhajan Singh, who was seen defending Ganguly. In subsequent months, many Indian cricketers stood up against Chappell’s bad behavior and poor strategies. Chappell finally went on to resign in 2007.
7. Match Fixing ended Mohammad Azharuddin’s career
One of the best Indian captains and a magnificent player, Azharuddin (aka Azhar) fell into a controversy that ended his career. It all started in 2000 when South African skipper Hansie Cronje stated that Azhar introduced him to an Indian bookie. This led to CBI inquiries on many Indian cricketers including Azhar. The CBI stated that Azhar confessed to fixing three ODIs and consequently the BCCI banned Azhar for life. The case of Azhar’s involvement in fixing continued and came to a conclusion in 2012. Yes, in 2012 the Andhra High Court lifted the ban on the Indian cricketer calling it ‘unsustainable’.
8. S Sreesanth’s involvement in 2013 IPL spot-fixing:
Throughout his career (and even post it), Sreesanth has been notoriously popular for his crass behavior and mannerisms. After all, he wasn’t tagged- ‘the king of controversies’ for nothing. Sreesanth made the news in many, many instances. But the most prominent controversy surrounding him was his involvement in IPL 6 spot-fixing incident. Sree, along with two other Indian cricketers and 11 bookies was arrested by Delhi Police for spot-fixing. This led to him being banned from all forms of cricket for life. And even though the court acquitted the Indian cricketer in 2015, the BCCI still continues to bar him.
9. Amit Mishra booked for physical assault on a woman
In late 2015, the right-arm leg-break bowler was arrested in Bengaluru for an alleged physical assault on a woman. The woman stated that he assaulted and abused her in his hotel room. She, however, withdrew the complaint a few days later and the case was dismissed.
10. Rift between childhood friends Vinod Kambli and Sachin Tendulkar
Vinod Kambli was an extremely talented cricketer whose career did not go as well as it should have. And in 2009, during a cricket reality show, Kambli stated that his childhood friend and teammate Sachin did not completely support him when his career was going down. This statement shocked the nation and also caused an evident rift between two childhood friends. However, the two Indian cricketers have off late patched things up for the sake of their friendship.