South African says racism ban was 'tough call' January 26, 2008

Sydney was harder than The Oval - Procter

Cricinfo staff

Mike Procter: "It seems drama follows me wherever I go" © Getty Images

Mike Procter says dealing with the Harbhajan Singh-Andrew Symonds hearing in Sydney was even harder than handling the 2006 Oval Test, which was awarded as a forfeit to England after Pakistan refused to play amid a ball-tampering row. Procter was the match referee in both cases and he believes the two situations were completely different.

"Being South African as well, and having seen the effects of racism first-hand, it was a really tough call," Procter told the Sydney Morning Herald. "It was probably more tough and stressful than the events surrounding the Oval Test when the match was abandoned. It has been very difficult on a personal and professional level.

"[The Oval] was a very unusual day. Everyone in the ICC ... did everything in our power to make something happen, but with the rules of cricket being what they were, there was nothing that could be done. It was, in many ways, an impossible situation.

"But I would say the issues and pressures that came out of Sydney were in many ways greater. Many of the situations that come up have never been dealt with before, and at the end of the day, it is you alone who must come up with the decision, drawing on your cricketing experiences and general knowledge. It seems drama follows me wherever I go."

The appeal over Harbhajan's three-Test ban for allegedly calling Symonds a "monkey" during the SCG match will be heard next week. Procter said despite criticism over his handling of the case - a leaked report suggests he took the word of the Australian fielders - he did not have a bad relationship with India.

"I can't comment specifically about the case, but I will say that, despite some reports to the contrary, I have a good relationship with the Indians," Procter said. "Now it is in the hands of the ICC, so I will leave it at that."