Harbhajan's hearing scheduled for Jan 29

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Perth, Jan 15 (UNI) The International Cricket Council (ICC) has finalised the hearing date of India offie Harbhajan Singh's appeal against his three-Test ban after the current Test series with Australia on January 29.

Justice John Hansen will hear the appeal in Adelaide, the day after the four-Test series against Australia is due to finish as scheduled by the ICC.

ICC had assured that Harbhajan will be able to play the final two Tests, as Team India had threatened to pull out if Bhajji's appeal proved unsuccessful.

However, the hearing is scheduled before the Twenty20 international and subsequent one-day international series which also involves Sri Lanka.

ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed said,''An allegation was made against Harbhajan under the ICC Code of Conduct and he was found guilty by the match referee.'' ''The ICC Members put this appeals process in place in 2002 in order to ensure that an aggrieved player has every opportunity to argue his case,'' he said.

Explaining the reason for conducting the hearing after the Test series, Malcolm said,''Both Cricket Australia and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) have requested the hearing be held after the Test series for logistical reasons and, following due consideration, Justice Hansen agreed.'' ''The reality is that it is likely to go into a second day as lawyers will be involved so we needed to have two clear days to assign to it, '' he said adding, ''With just three full days between the third and fourth Tests, we were conscious of the teams' travel arrangements and preparations for the match.'' Harbhajan was found guilty of racially abusing Australia's Andrew Symonds during the second Test at the SCG, in which he allegedly insulted the mixed-race all-rounder by calling him a 'monkey'.

Match umpires Mark Benson and Steve Bucknor levelled a charge under section 3.3 of the ICC code of conduct after receiving a complaint from Australia captain Ricky Ponting.

The section refers to players or team officials 'using language or gestures that offends, insults, humiliates, intimidates, threatens, disparages or vilifies another person on the basis of that person's race, religion, gender, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin'.

The ban imposed was short of the maximum of four Tests or eight one-day internationals possible for such an offence.

BCCI had intimated they would consider pulling out of the tour should the spinner not be exonerated, a threat they later withdrew.

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