Hayden reprimanded for calling Harbhajan 'obnoxious weed'

Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2008, 19:17 [IST]
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Outspoken Australian batsman Matthew Hayden has been reprimanded by Cricket Australia (CA) for calling Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh an "obnoxious weed".

CA's code of conduct commissioner, Ron Beazley, "issued a reprimand to Hayden... as penalty for the breach" after a two-hour hearing in Melbourne on Wednesday.

Hayden was charged by Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland under rule nine of the CA Code of Behaviour which prohibits players from the "public denigration of other players against whom they have or will play".

Despite the damning audio evidence of his comments, Hayden said he was disappointed to have been found guilty.

"I maintain my innocence, my intentions were never to denigrate cricket or anyone," he said. "But in the spirit of cricket I respect and accept the decision."

Hayden made the statement on Brisbane radio on Tuesday, after the lingering ill feeling between the sides surfaced again in Sunday's tri-series one-dayer at the SCG.

Teenage pacemen Ishant Sharma was fined after a verbal clash with Andrew Symonds on Sunday, the Indians claiming the youngster was provoked by Symonds and lodging a complaint with match referee Jeff Crowe about the "provocative" behaviour of the Australians, particularly towards Harbhajan.

The bad blood stretches back to the second Test in Sydney in January, when Harbhajan was suspended for three matches for racially abusing Symonds, a ban overturned at a subsequent International Cricket Council hearing.

Hayden's latest comments will add spice to the tri-series finals between the sides, starting on Sunday at the SCG.

"It's been a bit of a long battle with Harbhajan," Hayden said on radio.

"The first time I ever met him he was the same little obnoxious weed that he is now.

"His record speaks for itself in cricket.

"There is a certain line that you can kind of go to and then you know where you push it and he just pushes it all the time.

"That's why he has been charged more than anyone that's ever played in the history of cricket."

Hayden was one of the players the Indians accused of provocative behaviour in Sunday's game.

The big left-hander is fiercely religious, but despite this is also regarded as one of the biggest sledgers in the game.

He said the only reason the Indians were whingeing was because they were "losing every game they are playing."

"I called him a bad boy," Hayden insisted.

"He took offence to that and I thought that was quite funny."

The Board of Control for Cricket in India, quoted by the BBC, said that it was pleased CA had decided to act following Hayden's comments.

"The BCCI is happy that Cricket Australia has taken note and acted on this," chief administrative officer Ratnakar Shetty said.

"For a player to go on the radio and talk about another visiting player is something that has really shocked us.

"We have told our team management that they should not react to such incidents. They should focus on cricket," Shetty told BBC, adding that although the comments were against the spirit of the game, they would not jeopardise the rest of the tour.

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