Justice Hansen's report on the Harbhajan Singh appeal case arrived from the ICC in the form of a 22-page document yesterday evening. The Australian has converted it to one very long HTML page - but beware, it contains:
- Frequent Coarse Language (in English and Punjabi),
- Violence (Harbhajan Singh slapping Brett Lee's buttock),
- Sexual References (see Frequent Coarse Language and Violence),
- Horror (the ICC's disciplinary records database),
- Adult Themes (discussion of the appropriate standard of proof with reference to "The Queen on the application of Dr Harish Doshi v the Southend-On-Sea Primary Care Trust"), and
- Not-At-All-Adult-Themes (see Frequent Coarse Language, Violence, and Horror).
Harbhajan Singh's successful appeal against his Level 3 transgression, and its replacement with a Level 2 charge, seems on the surface of things to be the right decision, though I think the penalty imposed (50 per cent of his "match fee" - whatever that is) is light. The use of obscene language in an abusive context, regardless of the language in which it is spoken, is abhorrent.
We will know later today more about Justice Hansen's reasons for the findings when he releases his full written statement. Meanwhile, the reports that are coming out concerning back-room deals before the appeal hearing are very disturbing.
Ah, it must be tough being a tabloid reporter in the silly season.
There's so many strands to follow at the moment. Let's start with the central issue.
Harbhajan Singh has been found guilty by ICC match referee Mike Procter of a Level 3 breach of the Code of Conduct that relates to comments vilifying players on the basis of, among other options, race, ethnicity or colour. The full ICC press release concerning the hearing can be read here.
Harbhajan is alleged to have used the word "monkey" to Andrew Symonds - though I notice that there seems to be no finding explicitly stating that he actually called Symonds a "monkey".
There appear to have been five witnesses giving evidence at Sunday night's hearing in addition to the two protagonists. Sachin Tendulkar, who was Bhajju's batting partner at the time, and four Australian fielders: Ponting, Hayden, Gilchrist and Michael Clarke. Neither umpire witnessed the alleged remark.
Absurdity follows absurdity in the latest contretemps that positions world cricket somewhere on the spectrum between WWE wrestling and the personal life of Britney Spears. Frankly, it has elements of both. There's the hyped-up petulance and faux conflict of the prima donnas dressed up as professional sportsmen.
A bit of preamble before I write my thoughts about the off-field events of the past 24 hours.
I have seen very little of the Sydney Test, won by Australia late yesterday afternoon. I was on holidays with my daughter for most of the week and listened to the second half of Sunday's play on the radio at home. (If I really wanted to, I could probably have made the dash across to the ground when they threw the gates open for free at 4.30pm.)
Cricket Australia has responded within hours after losing their appeal to the ICC disputes committee (see my earlier posting today).
Emirates, the UAE-based airline best known in Australia for sponsoring Collingwood Football Club, will be the official team sponsor for the Australian team for the world cup in the Caribbean in March and April. Emirates, of course, is also the naming rights sponsor of the ICC Elite Umpire Panel and is the "official airline" of the Dubai-based ICC.