New Delhi:Banned off-spinner Harbhajan Singh got support from an unexpected quarter with his Australian rival Matthew Hayden making light of the bowler slapping S Sreesanth after an IPL match, saying it was a one-off incident which would not be repeated in future.
"I think so, yes (it was a momentary lapse). I didn't think this was ever going to happen and I don't think it will happen again either. Hopefully not," said Hayden, who had called Harbhajan "an obnoxious little weed" during India's acrimonious tour Down Under.
Hayden also said the players must have regretted whatever transpired between them on that fateful night following which Harbhajan was banned for rest of the IPL matches this season.
"I am sure they will feel remorseful as any player would. Because I think any player who has risen to the top of the game obviously has enormous respect and enormous discipline to get there," he was quoted as saying by 'cricinfo'.
The Australian opener, currently playing for Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League, said the row left him upset but he would not use this to sledge either of them when Australia tour India later this year.
"I was very upset, I just think we play this great game, in a great competition and both these guys are young men with enormous responsibilities as two fine players and prospects for the country that adores cricket and its cricketers.
"No, I won't be (sledging them)," he added.
Hayden also defended his national team, which is famous for its sledging tactics.
"It's the beauty of our game really; there is a gentlemanly aspect to the game and we get challenged on this. Australia has been nominated as the best sledgers and we get asked the question a lot of time but in reality its actually a mis-truth or certainly an exaggerated truth.
"What the world has done following the success of Australian cricket is to try and vilify us. And that's fair enough as the best in the world need to be taken down. So we always had to be on our guard and understand within that we need to address the issue before anyone else does," he said.
Hayden said the Australian team has discussed the image of being the bad boys of international cricket and the ways of sledging.
"You tell me what are these incidents of bad boys. I don't think we are. But yes, we senior players do sit together and work out where we want to go and how we want to play our cricket. Also, making comments can be distracting to some characters. If someone is forced to do that without it being a motivating factor then its trouble."
He believes every team has a few characters that get involved in sledging. "I think in any given side, there are always two or three people who look to sledge. In the Indian side, it would be Sreesanth, Harbhajan and (Robin) Uthappa. You wouldn't hear a boo out of Rahul (Dravid), MS (Dhoni) and (Anil) Kumble though they are all fiercely determined."
Hayden also spoke about the art of sledging and how he would pick certain individuals for the treatment.
"You choose your targets, really. I would never say anything to Sachin (Tendulkar), Rahul or Anil or anyone like that. I believe they have marked the test of time."