Harbhajan Singh racism controversy January 10, 2008

ICC will not back down - Speed

Cricinfo staff

Malcolm Speed: "We can't have one set of rules for the India team and another set for everyone else" © Getty Images
Malcolm Speed has insisted the ICC will not bow to India's demands on the Harbhajan Singh issue and they will have to accept any ruling on his case. India have threatened to call off their Australia tour if the hearing does not clear Harbhajan, who has been banned for three Tests, of racial abuse.

Harbhajan is allowed to play until his appeal is heard, although there is doubt whether it will be before the third Test in Perth next week, or even before the series finishes. The ICC has already brought in a new umpire, Billy Bowden, to replace the much-criticised Steve Bucknor, which has placated India for the time being.

"I am very pleased the tour is going ahead, there is a process in place for appeals and Harbhajan Singh has appealed," Speed, the ICC chief executive, told the Times. "India have signed off on the appeals process. They were there when all the discussions took place.

"We can't have one set of rules for the India team and another set for everyone else. We will follow the process and I hope whatever the outcome all parties will be able to say they have had a fair hearing."

Speed also rejected suggestions that the appeal may be postponed so the lucrative tour is not put in jeopardy. He said, instead, that the primary concern was the logistics of bringing together the necessary individuals at once.

However, Lalit Modi, the Board of Control for Cricket vice-president, said that the decision to continue with the tour was "interim" pending the result of the appeal against Harbhajan's ban.

"It was an interim decision of the ICC to ban Harbhajan, and, because of that, it is an interim decision by the BCCI to continue the tour," Modi told the Sydney Morning Herald. "The controversy continues until Harbhajan's name is cleared. We are not applying pressure to the ICC. They have simply reacted the way they should have. This isn't an issue about money or power, but what is right for the game. We will wait to see what the outcome of Harbhajan's appeal is and we will make a decision from there."

It has been well publicised that Harbhajan is alleged to have called Andrew Symonds a "monkey", but this was not, according to the Australian, for the first time. The newspaper reports the allegation that Harbhajan taunted Symonds with the same epithet during an ODI in Mumbai last October. It is understood that players at a team meeting wanted to report Harbhajan to the match referee, but Symonds insisted he sort it out on a personal basis with a one-on-one discussion.

The tape of the Sydney Test appears to back up the claims. It shows Ricky Ponting telling Harbhajan it was the second time he had crossed the line.