Aussie players angry over Bhajji let off

NDTV now has new details of what really transpired between cricket Australia and the BCCI as they tried to resolve the Harbhajan hearing.

updated: February 01, 2008 07:35 IST
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BCCI has come under immense criticism for their high handedness in working out a deal with Cricket Australia over letting of Harbhanjan Singh's racial abuse charge.

Justice John Hansen's downgraded verdict of racial abuse to general abuse charge against Harbhajan and let the Indian off the hook.

Hansen, though has now completely refuted the suggestion that he handed out the minimal punishment, because of an agreement between BCCI and Cricket Australia and has said that the decision was completely his own independent decision.

Hansen also said that Symonds was determined to get involved in the on-field spat between Harbhajan and Brett Lee and it was Symonds who provoked Harbhajan, in reply to which the Indian abused him.

In fact the Judge Hansen indicated that even if Harbhajan called Symonds a "monkey" it would not constitute racism.

It's now clear that Harbhajan wasn't let off the hook for racism for lack of evidence but because of hectic lobbying by the BCCI.

NDTV now has new details of what really transpired between Cricket Australia and the BCCI as they tried to resolve the Harbhajan hearing.

The BCCI led by former board president I S Bindra worked all through Monday night trying to get the Australian players to tone down the charge against Harbhajan.

Meanwhile, Cricket Australia warned its players that if they were sued for losses by host broadcaster ESPN in case India pulled out, then it might take upto 10 years to recover the money.

Clearly the Australian players gave in, though reluctantly. Symonds and Harbhjajan issued a joint statement just before the hearing saying that they would want the charges to be dropped.

However, the Australian players are now angry that they were forced into this compromise by Cricket Australia apparently they were led to believe that Harbhajan Singh would make an apology. However, the Indian team refused to let Harbhajan do that.

So, clearly its tense times even during the one day series, NDTV has learnt that board officials have told the Indians to watch their aggression levels.

Sreesanth and Harbhajan have been told in particular to watch what they say.

Cricket Australia is facing scathing attacks not just from furious players but also the Australian media for bowing down to the BCCI's enormous clout and letting Harbhajan off the hook with minimal punishment.

Cricket Columnist Peter Roebuck writes, "India's performance in chartering a plane to take the players back home in case of a finding against them is among the most nakedly aggressive actions in the history of a notoriously fractious game. If this is the way Indian cricket intends to conduct its affairs, God help cricket."

Alex Brown of the Sydney Morning Herald writes, "If there was any question about who wielded the power within international cricket, it was answered emphatically yesterday. India, which accounts for up to 70 per cent of the game's global revenue, completed a comprehensive victory over the International Cricket Council and Cricket Australia by having Harbhajan Singh's racism ban downgraded to a lesser charge of misconduct."

The Indian cricket board's high-handedness in handling the Harbhajan controversy is coming in for a great deal of criticism from many.