Adelaide: A statement from the match referee casts doubt on Sachin Tendulkar's claims he heard teammate Harbhajan Singh's exchange with an Australian player in the second Test, The Australian reported here.
Referee Mike Procter suspended Harbhajan for three matches for allegedly calling Australia's Andrew Symonds a 'monkey' during the contentious second Test, although the Indian star is free to play pending an appeal.
Tendulkar, who was batting with Harbhajan when the alleged incident took place, was one of the chief witnesses at the initial hearing and strongly protested Harbhajan's innocence. The player himself denied making the comment.
According to the report, Procter's written statement cast major doubts over whether Tendulkar heard the dispute.
"I note that Sachin Tendulkar only became involved when he realised that something was happening and was gestured over," Procter wrote.
"He tried to calm things down because something had happened that he did not hear."
Procter said he believed the version of events presented by Australians Symonds, Matthew Hayden and Michael Clarke.
"The first issue for me is did Harbhajan Singh say the word 'monkey' or 'big monkey'?" he wrote.
"I have heard evidence from Andrew Symonds, Michael Clarke and Matthew Hayden that he did say these words."
The BCCI has appointed a panel headed by a legal luminary from Nagpur Venkatesh R Manohar and the other members include Sibal and Arun Jaitley to represent Harbhajan at the appeal hearing, which will be conducted by New Zealand High Court judge John Hansen after the ensuing Test.