Procter defends decision
ICC match referee Mike Procter is standing by his decision to ban India's Harbhajan Singh for three matches.
Last Updated: 08/01/08 9:09pm
Match referee Mike Procter is standing by his decision to ban India's Harbhajan Singh for three matches after the spinner was found guilty of racially abusing Australia's Andrew Symonds during the second Test in Sydney.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) have halted their tour and lodged an appeal following the ban, which came after Harbhajan was alleged to have called Symonds a "monkey" during the match.
Both the ban and India's subsequent decision to suspend the tour have sparked furious scenes and debate on the subcontinent, with effigies of match officials even being burnt.
But, despite the BCCI's decision and the furore provoked, South African Procter has maintained that he was adhering to level three of the International Cricket Council's (ICC) Code of Conduct.
"I am South African, and I understand the word 'racism'," Procter told the Sydney Morning Herald.
"I have lived with it for much of my life and this was not a case of just taking the word of an Australian over an Indian.
"People are entitled to appeals and the hearing was not heated at all; it was very sound, and it took a lot of time.
"I stand by my decision and I believe the process was a fair one."
Meanwhile, in his column for the Herald Sun, Symonds has explained in detail how an altercation between Australia fast bowler Brett Lee and Harbhajan had led to the incident.
"This is what happened before our confrontation," Symonds said.
"Brett Lee had just sent down a delivery and Harbhajan took off down the wicket.
"When he was returning to his crease, he decided to hit Brett on the backside. I have no idea why he did it.
"I was standing nearby and when I saw what happened, I thought, 'Hold on, that's not on'. I'm a firm believer in sticking up for your team-mate so I stepped in and had a bit of a crack at Harbhajan, telling him exactly what I thought of his antics.
"He then had a shot back, which brings us to the situation we're facing."
Symonds also claimed that, before his run-in with Harbhajan, relations between the two sides had generally been positive.
"I must admit the incident was pretty surprising, because relations between the two sides so far have been very good," he added.
"It's been a series played in really good spirit. There's been no sledging or bad blood."