In protest, India suspends cricket tour

January 7, 2008 9:42:14 AM PST
India's cricket team stayed in its hotel in protest Monday after one of its players was penalized for allegedly using a racial slur during a match against Australia. The Board of Control for Cricket in India plans to challenge the "the unfair decision" by the International Cricket Council to suspend Harbhajan Singh for three matches because it said he made racist remarks to Australia's only black player. The Indian board said it will "suspend its operation until the appeal is disposed of."

Match referee Mike Proctor held a four-hour hearing at the Sydney Cricket Ground after Australia's 122-run victory and ruled that the case against the India spinner was proved.

"I am satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Harbhajan Singh directed that word at Andrew Symonds and also that he meant it to offend on the basis of Symonds' race or ethnic origin," Proctor said.

India was scheduled to travel to Canberra by bus Monday for a two-day tour match beginning Thursday, but decided not to leave Sydney. Indian officials did not immediately say whether that could result in the team not playing a test beginning Jan. 16 in Perth.

The ICC said Harbhajan was alleged to have made a "monkey" comment directed at Symonds.

"Unfair allegation of racism against our Indian player is wholly unacceptable," said board president Sharad Pawar, who is also a senior government minister, in a statement. "The game of cricket is paramount but so too is the honor of India's cricket team and every Indian."

Relations between the teams deteriorated during the most recent test match, the second of the tour. India captain Anil Kumble accused the Australians of not being sportsmanlike, and the Indian team expressed its lack of confidence in umpires after at least five decisions went against them in Sydney.

The most blatant was an appeal that would have put Symonds out after just 30 runs in the first innings.

Symonds has freely admitted he should have been out. He went on to score 162 runs not out and was later named man of the match. Several Australian newspapers agreed Monday that India should have won the second test, and criticized the behavior of Australian players during the test.

"India have been dudded. No one with the slightest enthusiasm for cricket will take the least satisfaction from the victory secured by the local team ... that entertained spectators, provided some excellent batting but left a sour taste in the mouth," wrote Peter Roebuck in Monday's Sydney Morning Herald.

"Truth to tell, the last day was as bad as the first. It was a rotten contest that singularly failed to elevate the spirit."


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