Harbhajan cleared on appeal
Spinner fined but will not be banned for three Tests
Last Updated: 29/01/08 9:34am
Harbhajan: No three-match ban
India spinner Harbhajan Singh has been cleared of making racist comments after his appeal hearing at a Federal Court in Adelaide.
The India spinner had been handed a three-Test suspension by match referee Mike Proctor for an incident during the Sydney Test.
Harbhajan allegedly called Australia batsman Andrew Symonds a "monkey" during the third day's play, an accusation he denied.
Now the charge has been downgraded to one of using abusive language on the field of play, meaning the ban has been lifted.
The bowler - who was allowed to play in the fourth Test in Adelaide due to the appeal date - has now been fined 50 percent of his match fee after pleading guilty to the lesser charge to New Zealand high court judge John Hansen.
"Justice Hansen said he was convinced that on all evidence submitted before him the charge of level 3.3 was not proven but that Harbhajan Singh should be charged with a level 2.8 offence," ICC communications officer Sami-ul-Hasa told reporters in Adelaide.
"Harbhajan pleaded guilty to this charge and after hearing submissions on the penalty, justice Hansen imposed a fine of 50 percent of his match fee.
VR Manohar, Harbhajan's counsel, said: "BCCI made it clear during the hearing that racism charge was like laying blame on the board and the nation, and should be dropped."
The ICC also said that a letter signed by both Australian and Indian players involved was tendered in evidence before the hearing as a statement of the facts of what happened in Sydney.
Cricket Australia and the Board of Control for Cricket in India released a joint statement both endorsing the appeal decision.
"Controversy surround the incident involving Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds on day three of the Sydney Test has come to a constructive conclusion today," the statement said.
"Singh and Symonds said they had resolved the on-field issue between them in Sydney and now intend to move on. They said they intended to make no further comment on the issue and intended to get on with the game of cricket which is most important to them.
"Both captains also said they were satisfied with the outcome between their respective players and they looked forward to the cricket battles that lie ahead."
As a result of the decision, India's tour of Australia will now continue and the two teams now move to Melbourne for a Twenty20 international on Friday, which is expected to be played out in front of 90,000 fans at the MCG.
Following that the Commonwealth Bank Series of one-dayers begins, which also includes Sri Lanka, - with the first game seeing India and Australia clashing yet again in Brisbane.
"It's time to move on," Indian captain Anil Kumble said. "This matter was lingering on for the last two weeks or so, although cricket was being played, but now the matter is settled.
"I'm really happy and relieved, not just for Harbhajan, but for cricket overall.
"It's time to start concentrating on the game."