Mike Procter defends ban on Harbhajan Singh

January 8th, 2008 - 2:31 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Harbhajan Singh
Sydney, Jan.8 (ANI): Former South African cricketer and match referee for the current Test series between Australia and India, Mike Procter, has defended his decision to ban Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh for three Tests for the alleged racial abuse of Andrew Symonds during the Sydney Test, and denied India’s assertion that it amounted to a “blatantly false and unfair slur on an Indian player”.
“I am South African, and I understand the word ‘racism’. I have lived with it for much of my life. This was not a case of just taking the word of an Australian over an Indian. I stand by my decision. I believe the process was a fair one. I intend to carry on for the rest of the series, because I don’t have a problem with India. I have always had a good rapport with Indian players,” the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Procter, as saying.
“Obviously this has all been very difficult for me. I didn’t get to sleep until 11 a.m., and then only for a couple of hours. It has been one of the most difficult days of my life,” Procter added.
Procter refuted suggestions that India’s predicted appeal of the Harbhajan suspension - and subsequent threats to abandon the series if it is upheld - was tantamount to a gun to the head of the ICC.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India is responsible for an estimated 70 per cent of the game’s global revenue, and many within the international cricket community believe the ICC is either unable or unwilling to exercise control over India.
“That’s just the way it works. People are entitled to appeals. The hearing was not heated at all. It was very sound, and it took a lot of time,” Procter said.
Procter is not the first ICC match referee to be challenged by the Indians. In 2001, India included Virender Sehwag in their side to play South Africa despite the fact the opening batsman was serving a ban for excessive appealing. Following a stand-off with the ICC, the Indians stuck with Sehwag, and combined with the South Africans to lock match referee Mike Denness out of the stadium. The ICC, in turn, stripped the match of Test status.
Procter last night was uncertain of when the Harbhajan appeal would be held, but said a hearing into Brad Hogg’s behaviour - levelled by the Indians, apparently in retaliation for Australia’s complaint against Harbhajan - would be held in Perth on January 13 or 14. Hogg stands accused of calling Indian captain Anil Kumble a “bastard” during the Sydney Test - a term the Indians described as offensive. (ANI)

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