S. Dinakar

Team completely focussed says manager Bimal Soni

Melbourne: India - Australia duels at the SCG continue to throw up controversies. Matthew Hayden found himself in trouble after calling Harbhajan Singh a ‘little obnoxious weed,’ in a radio interview on Tuesday.

The opener, however, got away with a reprimand by Code of Conduct Commissioner Ron Beazley. After a hearing here on Wednesday night at the MCG, Mr. Beazley said Hayden had breached Cricket Australia’s (CA) Code of Conduct but did not fine the cricketer.

Detrimental comments

The BCCI had taken up the issue with CA. The Australian board subsequently charged Hayden with a Rule 9 offence. The Law pertains to detrimental public comments.

Hayden had said, “It’s been a bit of a long battle with Harbhajan, the first time I ever met him, he was the same little obnoxious weed that he is now.” Hayden added Harbhajan kept pushing the line all the time.

Harbhajan and Hayden faced-off at the SCG on Sunday. Harbhajan claimed Hayden called him a ‘mad boy.’ Hayden said it was ‘bad boy.’ There were whispers in the Indian camp that Hayden had invited young Indian paceman Ishant Sharma ‘to the ring.’

It was at the SCG during the Test series that Harbhajan and Andrew Symonds were involved in a verbal duel that dominated the cricket headlines for days to come. Indian team manager Bimal Soni told The Hindu, “Harbhajan is stronger than Hayden. Such remarks will not affect him at all.” He maintained that the side was silent but strong. The Indian team has a professional bunch of cricketers. We know who is causing the trouble.”

The Indian team-management complained to Match Referee Jeff Crowe that its cricketers were being provoked to react in a particular manner by the Aussies. Ishant Sharma was fined 15 per cent of his match fee for showing Symonds the way to the pavilion after dismissing him at the SCG. The Indian camp said Ishant was instigated by Symonds.

Mr. Soni said the Indians would not be distracted by such remarks ahead of the finals. “We are completely focussed. We are very confident,” he said.

PTI reports

Meanwhile, Harbhajan Singh responding to Hayden’s verbal attack said, “Maybe, they realise that they no longer are the undisputed champions of the world. Maybe, they feel the crown is slipping. Otherwise, why would a cricket veteran ask a 19-year-old (Ishant Sharma) to join him in a ring?”

In control

Harbhajan said he preferred to keep himself in control. “I don’t want it to be a slanging match,” Harbhajan said. “But you only need to speak to international cricketers and international teams to know in what opinion they hold Hayden.” Besides Hayden, there was another specific incident of Ricky Ponting having a go at Harbhajan during the game in Adelaide on February 17.

Apparently, Ponting kept having a go at Harbhajan in Adelaide, asking him “to show what he had got” in the middle.

Harbhajan, on his part, had then cheekily remarked: “Mate, whatever I have shown in the middle has been better than yours in the series so far.”

“They do it so well,” Harbhajan said grudgingly, “they keep their back to you when they have something nasty to say.” — PTI

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