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March 10, 2008
Cricket Australia has taken objection to Harbhajan Singh's recent outburst, when he labelled the Australian team "arrogant", called Matthew Hayden a "big liar" and said Adam Gilchrist was "not a saint" and has written to the Indian board on the issue. There are also reports in the Australian media that the ICC has taken cognisance of Harbhajan's remarks, which he later denied saying.
The Sun-Herald reported that James Sutherland, the Cricket Australia chief executive, wrote a letter to Niranjan Shah, the BCCI secretary, indicating his displeasure over Harbhajan's conduct. "Enough is enough," Sutherland wrote. "Despite assurances that you have instructed him not to fuel this issue any more, Harbhajan continues to say whatever he wants. When will it ever end? Could you please deal with your player in regard to these comments?"
Hayden had created a furore by calling Harbhajan a "little obnoxious weed" on a radio show during the CB Series, for which he was quickly reprimanded. Cricket Australia now believes the same standards should be applied by the BCCI with regard to its players.
"We were disappointed because there has been a significant discussion, managed with great diplomacy behind the scenes," Cricket Australia spokesman Peter Young told the Australian. "We were disappointed that as soon as he [Harbhajan] got off the plane [in India] and, despite the assurances we've had, just launched off again.
"James's [Sutherland's] expectation is that the BCCI do something about this and James, in his last email, said enough was enough after the extended discussion we've had," Young said. "We've been assured by the BCCI that they were going to counsel Harbhajan about his public comment.
"James has got a strong view that inappropriate comment from both sides has not resulted in the game being held in the esteem he would like it to be held in. He was frustrated to pick the paper up and see that we've done all the right things, but [Harbhajan] seems to still be getting it wrong."
Harbhajan was at the centre of controversy during the tour to Australia, with Andrew Symonds alleging the offspinner made racial remarks against him during the Sydney Test, charges that were later dismissed due to lack of sufficient evidence. The Australian also revealed the ICC is investigating Harbhajan's latest outburst.
"We are aware of Harbhajan Singh's comments and are in dialogue with the two boards [Australia and India]," an ICC spokesman told the newspaper. The report also said the Indian team management was warned by match referees Jeff Crowe and Mike Procter over Harbhajan's behaviour with crowds, as it could have incited conflict.
"We've been told by ICC match referees that they briefed the Indian team management to counsel Harbhajan around appropriate on-field behaviour," Young said. "No one has a problem with interaction with crowds but inappropriate behaviour can provoke them into going too far."
Harbhajan was largely booed by the crowds after the Symonds episode and during the first final of the CB Series in Sydney, a few spectators alleged Harbhajan gestured and spat at them. Crowe viewed the evidence and felt there was no need to take action against him.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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