Melbourne:An Australian club cricket team, accused of racially abusing players of Indian descent during a match, has been cleared of the charge even though two of its members were banned for sledging.
After a marathon hearing stretching over nine hours, the Geelong Cricket Association last night dismissed charges of racial abuse as "unsubstantiated".
The racial abuse complaint was made by Waurn Ponds' club against members of the Thomson club.
"The hearing found two Thomson players and one Waurn Ponds player had breached the GCA's code of conduct in relation to sledging and playing outside the spirit of the game," the 'Geelong Advertiser' reported.
"Thomson captain Michael O'Neill and teammate Morgan Cleary were banned from tday's semi-final and received a three-match suspended sentence until the end of the 2011-12 season for breaching the players' code of conduct.
"One Waurn Ponds player, Chandranraj D. Basavaraju, was issued with a reprimand plus a two-match suspended sentence until the end of 2011-12 after being found guilty of breaching the players' code of conduct," it added.
Thomson was also slapped with with a 1000 dollars fine suspended until the end of 2011-12.
The probe was launched after a written complaint from the Waurn Ponds Cricket Club on Sunday which stated that six Waurn players of Indian descent were racially abused by Thomson players in a fourth-grade qualifying final last Saturday.
"The GCA, Thomson and Waurn Ponds cricket clubs are unanimous in their conviction that racism has no place whatsoever in any level of cricket or society in general," GCA president Grant Dew said after the hearing.
"This investigation has underlined cricket should be a sport that is competitive but also enjoyable to players of all backgrounds, cultures and abilities.
"It is clear that the match involved in this investigation was far from enjoyable for many who participated, which is a poor reflection upon our sport," he added.
Thomson president Laurie McGovern said he was glad that his players were cleared of racial abuse charge.
"We are pleased that our players have been cleared of the serious charge of racial vilification. Equally we recognise the importance of playing in the right manner and we realise that, like all clubs, we have a role to play in educating our members in this issue," he said.
Waurn Ponds president Daniel Breen said his club's complaint had done the job of highlighting a major on-field problem.
"We are pleased to have brought this issue to light and hope that this process will help bring about an improved environment for everyone involved in cricket," he said.