Harbhajan has been unmasked, says Ponting

May 10th, 2008 - 1:52 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Harbhajan Singh

Brisbane, May 10 (IANS) Australian captain Ricky Ponting took a dig at Harbhajan Singh, saying the off-spinner has been “unmasked” by his attack on teammate Sreesanth. “The (slapping) incident was him dealing with a guy that he has probably played 20 Tests with,” Ponting was quoted as saying in The Herald Sun. “After this latest issue in India, I think people should be making their own judgments about Harbhajan. He has again done something wrong.”

Referring to earlier run-ins with Harbhajan, Ponting also said that every minor error was blown out of proportion.

Harbhajan slapped Kings XI Punjab pacer Sreesanth after his team Mumbai Indians lost in the Indian Premier League (IPL). Harbhajan was banned from playing in the IPL this season and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is also conducting a separate inquiry into the incident.

Ponting insisted that he wants to look forward after the acrimonious series against India, but he remained incredulous at how Harbhajan got off with just a “slap on the wrist” even after being charged with racially abusing Andrew Symonds as a “monkey”.

After allegedly making a racial slur against Symonds, Harbhajan was initially suspended for three Tests. But after India threatened to boycott its tour, the off-spinner was cleared and received a 50 per cent match-fee fine on a lesser charge.

“It certainly wasn’t the outcome that we expected,” Ponting said.

Pressure was applied by the powerful BCCI and there were rumours that Cricket Australia was part of a deal to ensure Harbhajan walked free.

Reflecting on Australia’s perceived bully-boy image during the summer, Ponting admits his team was not blameless.

After a Sydney Test marred by umpiring mistakes, on-field confrontations and Australia’s in-your-face celebrations, Ponting was accused of “turning a group of professional cricketers into a pack of wild dogs” by an eminent journalist.

The same scribe labelled Ponting arrogant and called for him to be sacked as captain.

Ponting said his team had several lapses of judgment, but claims they were blown out of proportion.

“Most of us would put our hands up and say we made a few minor errors last year,” Ponting conceded.

“I think the thing that happened was that every time there was a minor error it was turned into something that was a lot bigger than it was. I was reading things about Harbhajan and I having run-ins on the field when we didn’t talk to each other in the course of the day.

“But the thing that I was happy with was that our cricket was generally pretty good in amongst all the stuff that was going on.

“At the start of the summer everyone had a lot of doubts about the team with the changeover of players and everyone thought we would probably be pushed. We played pretty well.”

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