Adelaide:The media and the Australian players might be fuming at the outcome of the Harbhajan appeal saying that it was a sell out by the Cricket Australia.
But the ICC's Appeals Commissioner Justice Hansen took great pains on Wednesday to explain that no deal was at play but rather a very legally correct procedure that was adopted.
However, his 22-page statement also seems to be doing the ICC a big disservice, because he's been critical of match referee Mike Procter and says that a database error in the ICC computer is what has resulted in Harbhajan getting off lightly.
"I also wish to disabuse the media of any notion that there was some deal. It is incorrect to suggest that there was an agreement between BCCI and Cricket Australia that I simply rubber-stamped," said John Hansen, ICC Appeals Commissioner.
Justice Hansen admitted that he had read these reports in the Australian papers, perhaps that's why his statement ended up becoming 22-pages long, as he brought in enough legalese to make it seem like this hearing had been conducted as a criminal case rather than one of a sporting issue.
Justice Hansen outlines exactly why the racial charge could not have been upheld against Harbhajan:
- Symonds provided the provocation because Harbhajan patting Lee on the bottom after an excellent yorker was just his way of saying 'well bowled'
- Tendulkar confirmed that the abuse uttered by Harbhajan is pronounced with a 'n' and could have been mis-interpreted as monkey
- Surprisingly, the Australian players could not recall Harbhajan saying any other word other than monkey, maybe because the abuse was not in English
- In my view even if Harbhajan had used the 'alleged word' then an 'ordinary person' would not have been offended under the terms of 3.3 which pertains to racial abuse
However, Hansen also admitted that he was aware that both Symonds and Harbhajan had made a pact in India during the ODI series in 2007 that they would not abuse each other.
Hansen said Bhajji and Symonds had previous agreement:
"When reviewing the evidence it is apparent that following incidents in India there was little ill feeling between the two. Symonds felt he had been called a monkey, which was a racial insult by Singh.
Harbhajan for his part said that he never called him such a thing. Whatever was actually said it is apparent that they shook hands and there was an agreement. Symonds maintained this was agreement not to use this word again."
However, Hansen also made a startling revelation that certainly did not show the ICC in good light. He says he was not made aware of all of Harbhajan's previous fines and run-ins with match referees.
Apparently, the ICC database isn't up to scratch and but for that Harbhajan could have got a different penalty, possibly a harsher one.
"If I had been aware of the serious transgression in November 2001, I would have required more extensive submissions as to the offence in mitigation which could have led to a different penalty," Hansen added.
So, Harbhajan can thank his lucky stars but not Mike Procter. Hansen's report is quite severely critical of the ICC match referee.
He says Procter did not consider the statement of Sachin Tendulkar because he was too far away when the incident took place but the Appeal Commissioner says video footage clearly proves otherwise.