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January 7, 2008
Andrew Symonds says he was surprised by the on-field incident that led to Harbhajan Singh being suspended for three Tests because there had been "no bad blood" in the series before that moment. The match referee Mike Procter found Harbhajan guilty of making a racist comment directed at Symonds while Harbhajan was batting in the Sydney Test, although India can appeal the decision.
"This is what happened before our confrontation," Symonds said in the Herald Sun. "Brett Lee had just sent down a delivery and Harbhajan took off down the wicket. When he was returning to his crease, he decided to hit Brett on the backside. I have no idea why he did it.
"I was standing nearby and when I saw what happened, I thought, 'Hold on, that's not on'. I'm a firm believer in sticking up for your team-mate so I stepped in and had a bit of a crack at Harbhajan, telling him exactly what I thought of his antics. He then had a shot back, which brings us to the situation we're facing."
Whether that situation was handled in the best way possible remains a subject of debate. The umpires spoke to Harbhajan on the field - Mark Benson even covered his mouth to avoid lip-reading television viewers - and reported him to Procter after they received a complaint from Australia's captain Ricky Ponting.
"I must admit the incident was pretty surprising, because relations between the two sides so far have been very good," Symonds said. "It's been a series played in really good spirit. There's been no sledging or bad blood."
There was definitely animosity between the teams after the Harbhajan-Symonds incident, however, with Australia's strong appealing on the final day drawing the ire of India's captain Anil Kumble. He questioned whether Australia were playing within the spirit of the game, while Ponting strongly defended his team's integrity.
Adam Gilchrist has responded to Kumble's allegation with caution. "I didn't see his comments," Gilchrist told CNN IBN. "I would like to think that's not quite right. We haven't gone outside any boundaries. I don't know what Kumble was exactly referring to."
Talking about his appeal against Dravid, Gilchrist said: "There are times when you don't know. So, you ask the question. Every player has right to ask the umpire. I will say I don't appeal if I don't think they are out. If I am not sure, I will ask the umpire and I'll accept his decision."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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