Justice John Hansen, the ICC Appeals Commissioner has given a verdict that has eased off any tension in the Indian camp and the BCCI when he gave it in favour of Harbhajan Singh. The off spinner, who was proven guilty by ICC Match Referee Mike Procter after the Sydney Test has been handed a 50% fine of his match fees for using abusive language by Hansen which brought his charges down to a 2.8 offence without any racism angle attached. With this verdict, the Indians are extremely happy to take further part in the tour which includes Friday’s T20 match and the CB Tri Series.
What was scheduled for a 2-day hearing ended swiftly in the second session of the first day itself. Although there was a new stump microphone evidence which captured the players arguing, the alleged word ‘Monkey’ wasn’t heard from Harbhajan’s voice which wasn’t audible enough! The hearing started with the Indian counsel, VR Manohar via Video conferencing in Mumbai asking Andrew Symonds what exactly Harbhajan Singh had told. Symonds did say that Harbhajan called him as ‘monkey’ and ‘big monkey’ but couldn’t exactly tell the sentences that the Indian player had uttered. VR Manohar presented strong defense for Harbhajan Singh with a few paper clippings of Andrew Symonds’ columns in which there were suggestions of his dislike towards the Indian team. VR Manohar also questioned the other Aussie player – Matthew Hayden, who was heard on the microphone saying to Bhajji that it was a ‘shit’ word that he had used. Hayden, however didn’t say that he heard Harbhajan using the word ‘Monkey’ which made the Australian case much more weaker.
When Harbhajan Singh was asked by Hansen whether he called Symonds a ‘Monkey’ and what he had actually uttered to him. The spinner denied calling Symonds as ‘Monkey’ but agreed that he had used abusive language in Hindi saying ‘Teri Maaki…’. Bhajji was further assisted by his counsel, VR Manohar, who told the judge that the former had no idea about the race of Andrew Symonds! Hansen after taking all this in consideration and also understanding the meaning of the abusive sentence from Harbhajan in English was satisfied that it was no way a racist slur. With that the verdict came out in just about five hours in the favour of the Indians. Sachin Tendulkar and Media Manager Dr. MV Sridhar were with Harbhajan Singh in the court. For the Aussies, Andrew Symonds was along with Ponting, Clarke and Hayden. Both the camps issued a joint statement at the end of the hearing – “We both agree that the game has to move on and therefore, these charges should be dropped” which was signed by Ponting, Hayden, Clarke and Tendulkar.
There is speculation coming out that the Australian cricketers are extremely angry at the outcome of the hearing. It is believed that they wanted Harbhajan Singh to be charged but were let down by the pressure created by their own board. There is a rumour that Cricket Australia had to bow down to the pressures of saving the T20 match and the CB Series which could have got them into huge losses without the Indian team’s participation.