Dubai: Controversial Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh will be able to play through the acrimonious four-Test series with Australia as his appeal against a three-match ban was on Monday set for after the final ball has been bowled.
However the 27-year-old will face Appeals Commissioner Justice John Hansen on January 29 and 30 ahead of the Twenty20 series and the Tri-Nations onde day series - Sri Lanka being the other participants.
While International Cricket Council chief executive Malcolm Speed said it was regrettable that the appeal could not be heard before the end of the Test series but it proved impossible to organise.
"An allegation was made against Harbhajan under the ICC Code of Conduct and he was found guilty by the Match Referee," said Speed, who has come under fire for relieving experienced umpire Steve Bucknor from the remainder of the series after the Indians complained about his performance in the second Test.
"As is his right under the code, Harbhajan has chosen to have the evidence tested at an appeal before an independent Code of Conduct Commissioner.
"The ICC Members put this appeals process in place in 2002 in order to ensure that an aggrieved player has every opportunity to argue his case.
"We would have preferred the appeal to be held earlier but it was not possible. Both Cricket Australia (CA) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) have requested the hearing to be held after the Test series for logistical reasons and, following due consideration, Justice Hansen agreed.
"The reality is that it is likely to go into a second day as lawyers will be involved so we needed to have two clear days to assign to it.
"With just three full days between the third and fourth Tests, we were conscious of the teams' travel arrangements and preparations for the match," he added.
Harbhajan was found guilty under the ICC's Code of Conduct following the clash with Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds on the third day of the acrimonious second Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground which Australia won by 122 runs.
The charge was laid by match umpires Mark Benson and Steve Bucknor after Australia captain Ricky Ponting had accused Harbhajan of making a 'monkey' comment at Symonds, the only black player in the home team.