ICL: Indian Cricket League


India deny rumors of tour being called off

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On a day of rapidly shifting events and wild rumours, which began early in the morning with the fallout of the previous day, the focus shifted to some degree from the umpiring in the Sydney Test to the three-match ban imposed on Harbhajan Singh for racial abuse.

Some crucial issues relating to the Indian tour were sorted out: rumours of the tour being called off were denied by the Indian team management, and the Australian board asserted it had not received any indication to that effect; the Indian board said it did not accept the ban and would appeal against it; and the Indian team, deeply disappointed and downcast, remained in Sydney, instead of leaving for Canberra on Monday morning as scheduled, waiting for a copy of the match referee’s ban order which it received in the evening.

There has been speculation over the future of the tour but no official decision has been made yet. “As of now the tour is on,” India’s assistant manager MV Sridhar told mediapersons in the Hotel Radisson this evening. “We will await instructions from the BCCI.”

The team was set to leave for Canberra by coach at 10:30 am local time but decided against it. Around 4.15 pm, Sridhar confirmed the team had been instructed by the BCCI to stay in Sydney till further instructions. Apparently the board wanted the team to stay in Sydney as the paperwork regarding the filing of appeal on behalf of Harbhajan needed to be done in good time. The players spent the day mostly in their rooms.

An hour later Sridhar said the team had received the official document regarding Harbhajan’s ban, one where he was accused of a ‘monkey’ taunt against Australian allrounder Andrew Symonds. The team was intent on reading the detailed written order from the match referee, Mike Procter, to find out what the exact racism charges were. It was made clear that the team was upset with the extent of the punishment, especially since they felt there wasn’t any evidence to prove the crime.

James Sutherland, the chief executive of Cricket Australia, said Sharad Pawar, the BCCI president, had indicated that the Indian squad would not be heading home early and that the remaining two Tests should be played. “There’s nothing to suggest that it won’t [go ahead],” Sutherland said. “Sharad Pawar has overnight made such commitments, so that’s good enough for me. We’re looking forward to Perth now.”

However Pawar had contradictory views when speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald. He was quoted as saying: “We are giving serious thought to whether we should continue. We feel that we must take action, enough is enough. We would like to keep an extremely good relationship with the Australian board. Our relationship is extremely cordial and we would like to continue that, but this [Harbhajan’s ban] is totally unacceptable.” The BCCI has called an emergency Working Committee meeting in New Delhi on Tuesday evening.

Meanwhile the BCCI decided to appeal against the ban. “BCCI is filing an appeal challenging match referee Mike Proctor’s order on spinner Harbhajan Singh,” a statement from Pawar said. “Unfair allegation of racism against our Indian player is wholly unacceptable. The game of cricket is paramount but so too is the honour of India’s cricket team and every Indian.”

Ricky Ponting added to the debate on Monday in an interview with Channel Nine, when he declined to reveal what was said between Harbhajan and Symonds on the field but offered a blunt assessment when asked if the situation “smacks of racism”. “I think that’s been proven,” Ponting said.

Ponting also said he was surprised by the speculation that India’s tour might be cancelled and that they had not sent their players to Canberra as planned. “They’re entitled to do whatever they think is appropriate at the time but for me that would be a little bit extreme, I must admit,” he said. The day’s first press conference was in fact a holdover from Sunday. Chetan Chauhan, the Indian team manager, spoke to reporters around 3:30 am, shortly after the ICC hearing conducted by Procter and attended by members of both camps. Chauhan announced the decision and said the team wasn’t thinking of a boycott. However, it turned out the players weren’t keen to continue until the issue over Harbhajan was made clearer.

The events come in the wake of India losing the second Test in Sydney in controversial circumstances, with a host of umpiring decisions going against them. The Indian board has already filed a complaint to the ICC on the standard of umpiring by Steve Bucknor and Mark Benson.

Source:Cricket News

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 8th, 2008 and is filed under General, Cricket.

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