Cricket Australia CEO expresses disappointment over leniency shown to Harbhajan

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Melbourne, Jan.31 : Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive James Sutherland today said that he was disappointed that Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh had escaped a more serious penalty for abusing Andrew Symonds.

"Judge Hansen says the penalty would have been different if he had had facts in front of him. From that point of view, that's disappointing, I'm disappointed, Cricket Australia is disappointed, it sounds like the judge is disappointed too. The judge's decision is final, we accept that, there was an unfortunate error in circumstances that led to him not having all the facts in front of him at that time, but that's gone, that's unfortunate, but that's the way it is,'' the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Sutherland, as saying.

Harbhajan had a charge of racially abusing Symonds for allegedly calling him a "monkey'' downgraded to using abusive language by International Cricket Council (ICC) appeals commissioner Justice John Hansen. The original penalty of a three Test suspension was reduced to a fine of half of Harbhajan's match fee because of a lack of supporting evidence over the incident in the Sydney Test.

Sutherland also expressed his unhappiness over the fact that the case had taken so long to resolve.

"It's unfortunate that it has gone on so long... it's an opportunity to reflect and to learn from this and we will, but now's the time really to focus on what's really important and that's the game of cricket,'' he said.

While praising Symonds as a cricketer, Sutherland said the all-rounder also had some cause for reflection over his role in the matter.

"Andrew Symonds is a brilliant cricketer, he's a tough, uncompromising cricketer in terms of the way he plays the game. He plays the game like most Australians are brought up to play. There's no doubt for Andrew ... there are probably some things for him to reflect on," Sutherland said.

Explaining his findings yesterday, Hansen was critical of Symonds' role in the Harbhajan affair, blaming him for sparking the on-field confrontation in the Sydney Test.

Sutherland said both the ICC and CA needed to learn from their handling of the matter.

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