Harbhajan denies racial abuse charge, hearing put off


Sydney : Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh has denied racially abusing Andrew Symonds but will still have to attend the hearing of the International Cricket Council (ICC), which has been put off till Sunday.

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The ICC Saturday said the charge comes in the wake of an alleged incident during third day’s play of the second Test against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) Friday.

The hearing was scheduled for Saturday night, but was postponed until after the end of the Test Sunday so that the players are not distracted from the game and also to give the Indians more time to prepare their defence.

Procter told host broadcaster Channel 9 that umpires Steve Bucknor and Mark Benson reported to him that Ponting brought to their notice the breach of conduct by Harbhajan.

“I informed both parties that there would be a hearing. It’s a level 3, which is pretty serious and the hearing has to be within 36 hours,” he said.

Procter, however, added that the umpires didn’t hear anything and didn’t know anything about it.

Harbhajan has denied he racially abused Symonds.

“I did not say anything racist. I do not know what is going on,” Harbhajan was quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.

“I haven’t done anything, we were just talking. It wasn’t even sledging, it was just normal talk out on the cricket field. I was concentrating on my batting,” he said.

Ponting’s complaint referred to an incident after the 116th over of India’s first innings when the Indian off-spinner is alleged to have said something to Symonds.

Symonds was subjected to monkey gestures in matches at Vadodara and in Mumbai during Australia’s One-Day series in India in October.

The alleged offence falls under the section of the ICC Code of Conduct that refers to players or team officials using language or gestures that offends, insults, humiliates, intimidates, threatens, disparages or vilifies another person on the basis of that person’s race, religion, gender, colour, descent, or national or ethic origin.

If found guilty, Harbhajan could face a ban of two to four Test matches or four to eight one day internationals.

The incident appeared to reach a head soon after Harbhajan scored his half-century in Friday’s last session. He went on to score 63.

Harbhajan began walking down the pitch after facing the final delivery of a Brett Lee over, gesturing to speak with the Australian all rounder who was walking to the other end of the wicket. Before he spoke to the Queenslander, Harbhajan was involved in a chat with Ponting and vice-captain Adam Gilchrist.

Later, Sachin Tendulkar, with whom Harbhajan was involved in a century stand, calmed the off-spinner down.