Friendly gesture by Harbhajan sparked Sydney furore

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Adelaide, Jan 30 (UNI) It was a friendly gesture by Harbhajan Singh towards Brett Lee that caused the altercation between him and Andrew Symonds leading to allegations of racial abuse against the Indian off-spinner.

According to the decision by the International Cricket Council (ICC) appointed Appeals Commisioner Justice John Hansen, in reply to a question to BCCI Counsel Advocate Vasha Manohar, Symonds said he was offended when Harbhajan patted Brett Lee on the back.

''Did I have an objection to it - my objection was that a Test match is no place to be friendly with an opposition player, is my objection,'' Symonds said.

According to Hansen, Lee had bowled a yorker to Harbhajan which the off-spinner played to fine leg. He then patted Lee on the back while taking a single as a gesture of appreciation.

The incident prompted Symonds to approach Harbhajan and tell him he had no friends among the Australians in foul and abusive language.

Harbhajan became angry and responded in kind. It was accepted by Symonds that some of the Indian's response was in his native language.

The incident prompted the Aussies to lodge a complaint with ICC Match referee Mike Procter who imposed a three-Test ban on Harbhajan, triggering a controversy which threatened to tear apart the cricket world.


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