Ponting disappointed with Harbhajan reprieve

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Melbourne, Jan 31 (UNI) Expressing anger and disappointment at the clean chit given to Harbhajan Singh, Australian skipper Ricky Ponting today said the Indian off-spinner was ''lucky'' to escape more severe punishment.

''There's no doubt that there'd be a few players in the Australian dressing-room that would be a little bit disappointed with the outcome as well, knowing what we now know.'' Ponting said.

He was furious that ICC-appointed Appeals Commisioner Justice John Hansen was not provided with all the evidence.

''The judge has made it pretty clear today that even he was a bit disappointed with the severity, or non-severity, of his findings, basically because he wasn't handed some pretty vital and important information,'' he said adding,''I'm sure that Cricket Australia will get to the bottom of that. It's not up to me or up to the players. The case is closed, it can't ever be reopened.

Cricket Australia will take it up with the appropriate people and let's hope that sort of stuff doesn't slip through the net again.'' Ponting's comments were similar to those that came earlier in the day from Cricket Australia's (CA) Chief Executive James Sutherland, who said he was disappointed Hansen was not provided with all the facts.

''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,'' Sutherland said.

Ponting defended Andrew Symonds who was accused by Justice John Hansen of starting the fracas with Harbhajan in Sydney.

''Any sort of character assassination on Andrew Symonds would be completely unfair,'' he said. ''He's someone who doesn't want this stuff happening, it's the second time with what he had to go through in India as well, and it's the last thing in the world he wants.'' ''It has taken a toll on [Symonds] and it's taken a toll on me over the last few weeks.'' However, he opined that its time to forget all the controversies and get on with the game.

''We're dealing with stuff in the middle of games that we don't want to be talking about or thinking about. It's consumed us all for enough time. It's been on my mind for four weeks, really, from the moment it happened I've been thinking about all this stuff,'' he added.

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