BCCI to refuse stump evidence

Indian board will not agree if fresh evidence in the form of transcript from a stump microphone emerges in the two-day hearing on Harbhajan Singh's appeal

updated: February 01, 2008 07:32 IST
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Indian board, it is learnt, will not agree if fresh evidence in the form of transcript from a stump microphone emerges in the two-day hearing on Harbhajan Singh's appeal against a ban beginning on Tuesday.

"The evidence could be tampered, it could be doctored. We wouldn't allow this so-called fresh evidence to surface after so many days," stated a highly placed Indian board official on Monday.

The day began with the ICC appointed commissioner in charge of the proceedings, Justice John Hansen, outlining the procedures for the hearing. Among other things, the most startling was the procedure in which "additional evidence" in the form of "transcript available from the stump microphone" being used to decide on the case.

"There may be some additional evidence, such as the transcript available from the stump microphone, which was not available to Mr (Mike) Procter," the judge from New Zealand said.

IS Bindra, a senior BCCI official, has been here since last week and spent evenings with the president of Cricket Australia (CA), Craig O'Connor, in order to thrash out the contentious issue.

Both the boards would be hurt if the forthcoming one-day tour was to be abandoned, a posture Indian board has repeatedly taken in the wake of Harbhajan ban.

Bindra's effort notwithstanding, it remains to be seen if Cricket Australia indeed could pressurise Australian skipper Ricky Ponting from toning down his team's stated position on the issue.

Justice Hansen's statement this morning, ironically, though also opened a window of opportunity. His procedures also affirms that all the witnesses will give a fresh hearing, which could allow the involved parties to change, or readjust, the positions they took in Sydney.

Indian board, nevertheless, has been shown in poor light by not arranging any physical legal presence while all this hell has broken loose. No such help was present in Sydney, nor one is going to be present here even though VR Manohar, father of the BCCI president-elect Shashank Manohar, would offer his guidance over phone from India.

Indian board, as well as the players, have made it be known that they would boycott the tour if the ban as well as the alleged racist remark attributed to Harbhajan is upheld.

Indian board wouldn't like to be seen as not championing the cause of Indian players, something which the previous Board regime under Jagmohan Dalmiya did so adroitly.

The cricket circle here though is abuzz with the word that an "evidence" exists which puts Harbhajan, and even Sachin Tendulkar, in poor light.

Harbhajan was slapped with a three-match ban by match referee Mike Procter after the Sydney Test for allegedly racially abusing Andrew Symonds whose point was supported by three members of his team.

The word of Sachin Tendulkar, batting partner with Harbhajan, said to the contrary, was not taken into account.

The hearing in the appeal against the ban, to be held in private at the Federal Court here tomorrow, will give an opportunity to both the counsels to cross-examine the witnesses though it being a sporting disciplinary hearing, the evidence will not be on oath.

Justice Hansen declared that soon after he arrived at a decision, he would forward his ruling to Harbhajan, Procter and the chief executive of the ICC.

If Harbhajan was to prove guilty, and the Indian board was to carry its threat, the damages for abandoning the tour could amount to 2.3 million Australian dollars as penalty which to the cash rich Indian board would amount to peanuts.