Hayden rebuked for radio outburst over Harbhajan

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The Independent Online

The long-running feud between Australia and India took another twist yesterday when Matthew Hayden was upbraided for remarks he made about Harbhajan Singh in a radio interview.

Commissioner Ron Beazley reprimanded the batsman for breaching Cricket Australia's code of conduct after a lengthy hearing in Melbourne. Hayden had described the India off-spinner as an "obnoxious little weed" in an interview.

He was charged under rule nine of the code, which prohibits players from the "public denigration of other players against whom they have or will play". The Board of Control for Cricket in India, which had asked CA to investigate, will not seek any further action.

The latest controversy comes after an exchange between Hayden and Harbhajan during Sunday's one-day game in Sydney, one of several spats to have blighted India's tour of Australia.

Hayden said on the radio: "It's been a bit of a long battle with Harbhajan. The first time I met him, he was the same little obnoxious weed that he is now There is a certain line that you can kind of go to and then you know where you push it – and he just pushes it all the time. That's why he has been charged more than anyone that's ever played in the history of cricket."

Relations between the sides have been tense following the allegations of racial abuse against Harbhajan that marred last month's second Test in Sydney, and yesterday the Australia bowler Brett Lee said the players were keen to put the controversy behind them and focus on the CB Series best-of-three final between the two teams, which begins on Sunday at the SCG.

"It's a bit of a shame a few things have happened on the cricket field," Lee said. "People know where the line in the sand is – and if you cross that line, well... you know you will get dealt with. The thing we have to acknowledge too is that once you do walk on to the cricket field and go over that line it doesn't matter who's made friendships; it's very important we go out there and play the hardest, toughest, fairest cricket we possibly can."