List of Harbhajan’s misdemeanours keeps growing

April 26th, 2008 - 7:20 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Harbhajan Singh

New Delhi, April 26 (IANS) Harbhajan Singh has courted several controversies in his career but slapping his teammate Sreesanth after the Indian Premier League (IPL) match between Mumbai Indians and Kings XI in Mohali Friday night will be right up there in the off-spinners’ list of misdemeanours. The tweaker, better known as the ‘Turbanator’, has a poor disciplinary record and has time and again landed in soup for his tongue. Known for losing his cool at the slightest provocation, Harbhajan’s run-ins with the Australians are well documented.

Only two months back during India’s tour to Australia, Harbhajan was in the middle of a row with Andrew Symonds followed alleged racist remarks.

Harbahajan allegedly called Symonds “big mokey” during the ill tempered Sydney Test following which the Australian brought charges of “racial abuse” against the off-spinner.

Match referee Mike Procter upheld the charge and slapped a three-match ban on Harbhajan. The issue rocked the cricketing world, which criticised the sledging-friendly Australian team for behaving like a cry baby.

Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the entire team management stood behind Harbhajan and threatened to abandon the tour if the ban was not dropped.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) had to come in to cool frayed tempers. The ICC had to appoint an appeals commissioner from New Zealand, John Hansen, to settle the matter after the BCCI threatened to pull out midway from the tour. In the end, Harbhajan got a reprieve when Hansen downgraded his punishment to 50 percent match fee fine.

Symonds was not the lone Australian to have problems with Harbhajan during the tour Down Under. Opener Mathew Hayden also joined the off-spinners’ critics club and described him as an “obnoxious little weed” in a radio interview. His remarks invited a warning from Cricket Australia (CA).

After coming back to India from the tour, Harbhajan once again could not control his tongue and said that former Australian wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist was not a ’saint’, which irked CA.

The 28-year-old’s tryst with controversy started early in his career. Harbhajan was engaged in a war-of-words with Australian captain Ricky Ponting in his maiden international ODI series in 1998 after which he was slapped with a fine and a reprimand.

He was then dropped from the Indian squad because of a ’suspect’ bowling action.

He was also thrown out of the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bangalore in 2000 for not falling in line with the academy’s objectives and shirking physical workouts.

In March 2002, Harbhajan was engaged in an altercation with the police outside the team hotel in Guwahati. A scuffle broke out when Harbhajan remonstrated with police officers after they refused to allow a photographer into the hotel.

Even his endorsements generated controversy. Harbhajan featured without his turban in an advertisement for a liquor brand that angered many orthodox Sikhs, leading to anti-Harbhajan protests.

Interestingly, the man who is seen as the victim of the recent controversy - Sreesanth - also is not a saint and is famous for his on-field antics, which have drawn the ire of match referees several times in his short career.

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