Did Harbhajan’s pat on the butt lead to a rap on his knuckles?


Sydney : A pat on the butt may well have been the reason for the rap on the knuckles and much more for Harbhajan Singh.

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Andrew Symonds, who accused Harbhajan of racial abuse, said the Indian bowler’s bewildering decision to pat Australian fast bowler Brett Lee on the bottom during play on Friday in the second Test sparked the furore, reports the Daily Telegraph of Australia.

Apparently, when Symonds asked Harbhajan why he had done this, the fiery Indian – then batting – allegedly called the Queenslander a “monkey”.

Five Australian players – Michael Clarke, Ricky Ponting, Matthew Hayden, Adam Gilchrist and Symonds – gave evidence when match referee Mike Procter held a hearing on the issue. India had Sachin Tendulkar and Harbhajan.

The hearing resulted in a three-match ban on Harbhajan and the resultant crisis in India’s Australia tour.

Symonds detailed to Procter what he was barred from writing in his Sunday Telegraph column by an ICC directive.

“This is what happened before our confrontation,” wrote Symonds in the column, reports the paper. “Brett Lee had just sent down a delivery and Harbhajan took off down the wicket. When he was returning to his crease, he decided to hit Brett on the backside. I have no idea why he did it.

“I was standing nearby and when I saw what happened I thought: ‘Hold on, that’s not on’.

“I’m a firm believer in sticking up for your team mate, so I stepped in and had a bit of a crack at Harbhajan, telling him exactly what I thought of his antics.

“He then had a shot back, which brings us to the situation we’re facing tonight,” The Australian cricketer said Sunday night.

Symonds, who had been at the centre of a racial storm during the one-day series in India last October, said he was stunned by the latest incident.

“I must admit the incident was pretty surprising, because relations between the two sides so far have been very good,” he said. “It’s been a series played in really good spirit. There’s been no sledging or bad blood.”

The paper also said the Indian team manager Chetan Chauhan argued Harbhajan had not crossed the line, but had only been guilty of swearing after “extreme provocation by some Australian players”.