Australia v India 2007-08 / News

Harbhajan Singh racism controversy

Ponting turned down request - Kumble

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan in Canberra

January 9, 2008

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Time to bury the hatchet and extend the olive branch? © Getty Images

Anil Kumble has revealed that he had approached Australian captain Ricky Ponting after the third play's day of the Sydney Test, requesting him to not press the charge of racism against offspinner Harbhajan Singh.

"I did make a request actually when that incident happened on that particular day," said Kumble, speaking in Canberra in what was the first official press conference since the Sydney Test.

"I did make a request that it should be handled ... if the issues can be sorted out. But it went up to the match referee and there was a case. His response was it had already been reported. Having played cricket for this long, [i knew] such an allegation would definitely spiral into what it has now. I anticipated that.

"And I envisaged that it would spiral into a larger issue. So that was the only reason. There was a hearing and now we've made an appeal. I'm sure things will be sorted out now."

However, Kumble didn't think the incident would affect the relationships between the two captains during the third Test in Perth, which starts on January 16. "It's important that Ricky and I got together and spoke about it and then get together and address it," he said.

"It was not that the spirit of the game was attacked but the focus has been to ensure that better spirit prevails in the game. We [captains] are all equal partners to ensuring that cricket is played in the right spirit and, I'm sure moving forward, everybody will stick to that. On behalf of my team, I'm sure we'll play in the right spirit."

The ICC has appointed Ranjan Madugalle to mediate between the two captains. But did Kumble think he could have a chat with Ponting in the current situation? "I have no problems. What's the problem there? It was just a temporary setback. We need to move on. The game is bigger than the individual. As a nation we've played good cricket. I'm proud of the way Indian cricket teams have played over the years and we'll continue to do that.

"The relationship between India and Australia has always been good," said Kumble after the heated exchanges after the second Test. "It was only meant for the Sydney game. I've respected Australian cricketers. I have great respect and regard for all the players who have played for Australia. It was just one of those incidents which everybody has seen and if people think I had a biased opinion, there has been a poll and people who have seen the game have also said it could have been better."

Kumble, who had said he would want to review the captains' agreement on low catches, said he hadn't thought about it yet and would bring it up in discussion once the team reached Perth.

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

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