BCCI suspends tour pending Bhajji appeal

Published: Monday, January 7, 2008, 3:35 [IST]
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Sydney: Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has suspended its team's tour of Australia pending the outcome of an appeal for banned spinner Harbhajan Singh.

Harbhajan was handed a three-Test ban in a loop-sided verdict on Sunday by the ICC Match Referee Mike Proctor verdict after the Indian offie found guilty of racially abusing Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds during the second Test in Sydney.

Harbhajan has denied the claims and the BCCI said the tour would be suspended until his appeal had been heard.

"The Board will appeal to the ICC to review the decision of the Match Referee and suspend its operation till the appeal is disposed of," the BCCI said in a statement released on Monday.

"The BCCI realises the game of cricket is paramount but so too is the honour of the Indian team and for that matter every Indian.

"To vindicate its position, the Board will fight the blatantly false and unfair slur on an Indian player."

The Indian team were due to travel to Canberra on Monday to prepare for their next tour match against an ACT Invitational XI but returned to their hotel rooms after boarding their bus.

"We have been instructed by BCCI to stay in Sydney until we get further instructions," team spokesman M V Sridhar told reporters at the hotel.

Tour to go ahead: CA: Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive James Sutherland had earlier told reporters in Melbourne that he expected the tour to proceed.

"The chairman of Indian cricket overnight made a commitment that it would and that's good enough for me," Sutherland said.

Sutherland has also proposed a peace meeting between Australia captain Ricky Ponting and Indian skipper Anil Kumble to try and resolve the escalating crisis.

Emotions began to boil over immediately after the match when Kumble accused the Australians of bad sportsmanship, evoking memories of Bill Woodfull's criticism of England during the 1932-33 'Bodyline' series.

The BCCI then announced it was lodging a counter-protest against Australian Brad Hogg, claiming he used abusive language at Kumble.

"In the course of the next few days it is time for the two captains to get together and have a chat," Sutherland said.

Australia's 122-run victory in the second Test ensured they retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy as well as equalling their own world record of 16 successive wins.

The remaining two Tests of the series are scheduled to be held later this month in Perth and Adelaide.

Aussie media critical of Ponting&Co: In an unexpected show of solidarity, the Australian media rallied behind the Indian team, saying poor umpiring proved to be their nemesis and the least they deserved was a draw.

The Australian national newspaper criticised the behaviour of the home team and said Steve Bucknor and Mark Benson should be called to account for their poor umpiring.

"It is shameful this splendid test match, won in such a remarkable fashion by the indomitable Australians, has left such a bitter taste," wrote Mike Coward, veteran cricket writer.

"The standard of play often was outstanding and occasionally exceptional but the standard of player behaviour was questionable and, at times, unacceptable. And the standard of umpiring was poor.

"Test cricket is not robust enough these days to withstand these failings and the protagonists and umpires Steve Bucknor, in particular, and Mark Benson should be called to account," he said.

Peter Roebuck was more stinging in his write-up for the Sydney Morning Herald, saying only "rabid nationalist" would relish such a "rotten contest."

"India has been drudded. No one with the slightest enthusiasm for cricket will take the least satisfaction from the victory secured by the local team ... That entertained spectators, provided some excellent batting but left a sour taste in the mouth," wrote Roebuck.


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