Harbhajan may have been provoked: Wright

Published: Thursday, January 10, 2008, 3:35 [IST]
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Christchurch: On-field provacation may be the reason behind off-spinner Harbhajan Singh's outburst asserts former Team India coach John Wright.

The New Zealander also added that its not surprising to see the strong backing given to the Indian team by the BCCI.

''I don't believe Harbhajan was talking in a vacuum out there, knowing how the Australians play the game in the middle,'' he said.

Wright said he knew both Harbhajan and Symonds from his time as the Kent coach and he said both are lively players but 'good boys'.

Adding in the same breath, ''But it's not a church out there and I can't believe there was silence.'' ''Things are said in the heat of the moment, but it's important players from both sides take a deep breath and step back,'' Wright opined.

Wright, who guided India from 2001 to 2005, said it was important to understand that the Indians accepted winning and losing, but were acutely sensitive to ''a sense of fairness''.

''Cricket is such a passion in the country it is more of a national situation,'' he said.

''The board is not just representing the players but hundreds of millions who follow cricket, so there is a lot of pressure from that perspective.

''Clearly, India is feeling a sense of injustice from the match.'' The game is in turmoil with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) having only just confirmed the tour will proceed after suspending the team's travel earlier.

It is seeking to overturn the three-match ban imposed by match referee Mike Procter on Indian player Harbhajan Singh for allegedly calling Andrew Symonds a monkey during the second Test at Sydney.

Wright said he could understand that, given the lopsided nature of the decision-making by officials Steve Bucknor and Mark Benson, who invariably ruled in Australia's favour. Wright said there was already ''history'' between the Indian team and West Indian Bucknor from previous series.

''In whatever sport there needs to be accuracy and fairness in the decision-making, otherwise it undermines the game.'' He said at times the International Cricket Council (ICC) needed to take that into the equation when making appointments.

Neither Bucknor nor Benson heard the alleged comments but Procter took the word of several Australian players.

Wright called for common sense and said Australian captain Ricky Ponting and his Indian counterpart, Anil Kumble, should sit down and thrash out their differences prior to the third Test, scheduled to start in Perth on Jan 16.


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