Procter backs his decision against Harbhajan

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Sydney, Jan 8 (UNI) International Cricket Council (ICC) match referee Mike Procter has defended his decision to ban off-spinner Harbhajan Singh for three test matches for allegedly making racial comment against Aussie all-rounder Andrew Symonds.

''I am South African, and I understand the word racism,'' Procter told the Sydney Morning Herald.

He said, ''I have lived with it for much of my life. This was not a case of just taking the word of an Australian over an Indian.

I stand by my decision and believe the process was a fair one.'' Harbhajan was cited by match referee Mike Procter after Australia captain Ricky Ponting complained to on-field umpires Steve Bucknor and Mark Benson about the off-spinner calling Symonds a ''monkey''.

Harbhajan has been charged under rule 3.3 of the ICC's Code of Conduct.

Procter said it had been a tough day at the office for him.

''Obviously this has all been very difficult for me. It has been one of the most difficult days of my life.'' Replying to a question on the hearing, Procter said, Sunday's hearing was not a heated affair, adding that he was unsure when the procedure for the appeal over the ban would take place.

Skipper Anil Kumble, Sachin Tendulkar, manager Chetan Chauhan and media manager MV Sridhar accompanied Harbhajan while hearing, which was held on Sunday, whereas the Australian contingent included Symonds, skipper Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, Michael Clarke and team manager Steve Bernard.

However, he said the hearing into chinaman Brad Hogg's alleged remarks for using foul language during the second Test at SCG would be conducted on either January 13 or 14 in Perth.

The Indians alleged that Brad Hogg referred to an Indian player as a ''bastard'', which is considered to be a highly offensive term in India.

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