Gautam Gambhir, the India opener, will appeal the one-Test ban imposed on him during the Delhi Test on Friday for not conducting play "within the spirit of the game as well as within the laws of cricket". Gambhir was involved in a verbal altercation with Shane Watson, the Australian bowler, and elbowed him in the process.
By Sunday, the ICC will name a Code of Conduct commissioner, who will hear the appeal within seven days of his appointment.
Gambhir, who pleaded guilty to the Level 2 offence, could miss the final game of the series against Australia in Nagpur from Thursday after match referee Chris Broad told him of the decision before the third day's play.
Broad delayed the verdict from Thursday's hearing while he considered the evidence for the charge.The in-form Gambhir, who scored 206 in India's 613 for 7 declared to follow his century in the second Test, had a series of verbal clashes with Watson during the middle session on day one. They had an argument in the 51st over of the first innings when Gambhir took his first run and the batsman caught Watson with his left elbow as he ran the second.
"The decision to find Gambhir guilty of a Level 2 offence is indicative of the fact that any degree of physical contact is unacceptable," Broad said. "Had Gambhir been charged with and found guilty of a charge under 2.4 [for deliberate or inappropriate physical contact], due to his previous offence, I would have been obliged to impose a minimum penalty of a two-test match ban. In the view of the umpires, the facts of this case - the lightness of the physical conduct and the element of provocation - would not justify such a penalty."
Broad took in to account Gambhir's previous fine for running into Pakistan's Shahid Afridi and said he hoped the batsman would learn from the incident. "It wasn't deliberate, it just happened," Gambhir said on Wednesday. "I didn't need to get into this argument with Shane Watson because he had no option of getting me out. There wasn't a need for me to stick my elbow out, it just happened."
Virender Sehwag, Gambhir's opening partner, said that the ban was harsh. "I have heard the news just now, so it is difficult to react," he said. "But Gambhir had pleaded guilty and it was natural that he would be punished. But I feel a match ban is too harsh, he could have done with a match-fee fine. It would have been good for us."
Watson was found to have been "verbally engaging with Gambhir in a manner that was not in keeping the spirit of cricket" and was fined 10% of his match fee. He pleaded not guilty to the Level 1 charge and has no right to appeal.
Gambhir was fined 65% of his match fee for his run-in with Afridi in 2007 while batting in an ODI in Kanpur. In that case, he was found guilty of a Level 2 charge of inappropriate and deliberate physical contact between players as well as a Level 1 charge of not conducting himself within the spirit of the game.
The current disciplinary measures follow Zaheer Khan being docked 80% of his match fee last week for his celebration when Matthew Hayden was dismissed in the second innings of India's 320-run win in the second test at Mohali. The tense series, which India currently leads 1-0, follows a fractious contest in Australia's 2-1 series win at home in 2007-08.