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January 11, 2008
Sharad Pawar, the BCCI president, has been handed the power to order India home from Australia without consulting the rest of the board. Although India are continuing their Test tour for now, Pawar said he would not be afraid to use the authority if India felt the result of the appeal into Harbhajan Singh's three-Test suspension was not satisfactory.
"I will only use the power in support of Harbhajan for the rest of the country," Pawar told the Herald Sun. "There will be a [ICC] committee hearing. We are confident in the hearing he will be cleared.
"Let's just see what happens, but allegations of racism against a member of our cricket team is not acceptable. After the meeting, we then will take action. We fight against racism. Our country supported anti-racism movements in South Africa."
There were concerns that India would withdraw from the Perth Test, which starts on Wednesday, if Harbhajan's appeal was not heard before the match. However, India agreed to play on until the case was completed, which may yet be after the final Test in Adelaide later this month.
But doubts remain over India's participation in the ODI tri-series, which also features Australia and Sri Lanka, as India's players are still angry with the treatment of Harbhajan. The spinner was suspended for allegedly calling Andrew Symonds a monkey during the eventful Sydney Test, although Sachin Tendulkar, who was batting with Harbhajan at the time, believes nothing racist was said.
Tendulkar reportedly sent Pawar a text message assuring him of Harbhajan's innocence and suggesting they should not play unless the ban is lifted. It is unclear when the appeal will be held, although the New Zealand High Court judge John Hansen has been appointed as the commissioner for the hearing.
The other charge to come out of the Sydney Test was against Australia's Brad Hogg, who will face a hearing after he allegedly referred to Anil Kumble and MS Dhoni as "bastards" during the match. The Daily Telegraph reported that Australia will argue the Hogg case should not fit in section 3.3 of the ICC Code of Conduct - the same section under which Harbhajan was suspended - because they believe the term "bastard" does not vilify a player on the basis of race, religion, gender, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin.
Instead, Australia will argue the term refers to a person's lineage and therefore Hogg should not be charged under section 3.3. If Hogg was found guilty of a lesser offence of abusive language he would not face a similar suspension to Harbhajan.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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