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Harbhajan Singh racism controversy

ICC accepts blame for 'human and database errors'

Cricinfo staff

January 31, 2008

Malcolm Speed has urged the players to improve their on-field behaviour © Getty Images

Malcolm Speed, the ICC chief executive, has said the ICC accepts the blame for the database and human errors that played a part in Harbhajan Singh escaping a more severe penalty during his appeal hearing in Adelaide.

Harbhajan's three-Test ban for allegedly calling Andrew Symonds a monkey was reduced to a fine of 50% of his match fees but Justice John Hansen, the appeals commissioner, said he could have imposed a more serious penalty if he was made aware by the ICC of the bowler's previous transgressions.

"It is very unfortunate that human error led to Justice Hansen not having the full history of Harbhajan's previous Code of Conduct breaches and the ICC accepts responsibility for this mistake," Speed said, after Hansen revealed that he had been informed of only one of Harbhajan's previous infractions.

Hansen said Harbhajan's full record of Code of Conduct violations - including the occasion when he was fined 75% of his match fee and handed a suspended sentence of one Test in November 2001 - had not been made available to the assisting counsel at the time of sentencing.

The ICC had advised Hansen's assistant counsel, John Jordan, of only one of Harbhajan's previous infractions, a Level 2.8 offence in April 2003 when he made an abusive comment to an umpire. However, it was only after his verdict that Hansen was made aware of the three other cases involving Harbhajan.

The first, a Level 1 offence in 1998, was overlooked because offences under the old Code of Conduct were not included in the ICC database. The second, a Level 1 offence in November 2005, was not made available because of a "human error". Hansen said the extent of his punishment wouldn't have changed even if he knew about the first two but added that knowledge of the third, a Level 2 offence in November 2001, "could have led to a different penalty".

Speed, though, chose to look at the lessons to be taken. "One thing that has come out of this is the need for players to review their on-field behaviour," he said. "In this case, it is clear that Harbhajan verbally abused an opponent having been provoked to do so by that opponent. This is not acceptable behaviour on the cricket field. I expect all players to use this as a wake-up call that on-field behaviour must improve."

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