The three-Test ban on Harbhajan Singh evoked a strong reaction from the BCCI and former cricketers, who described it as totally "unjustified and unfair" but advised against the Indian team abandoning the remaining matches in Australia.
The off-spinner was on Sunday banned after the ICC Match Referee Mike Procter upheld the Australian charge that he had racially abused their all-rounder Andrew Symonds.
Former India captain Kapil Dev said he was totally surprised by the news of Harbhajan Singh being banned. "It is a surprising and unfair. The Indian team is one of the most gentle teams in the world," Kapil Dev said.
Another former India captain Kris Srikkanth denounce the decision and said it was unfortunate that he was punished but said the Indian team should continue their Australian tour. "We should not take this drastic step (of abandoning the tour) but instead should fight hard in the next matches," he said. Another former captain Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi also advised Indian team against cancelling their next engagements in the tour.
"I think we should not forfeit the series. He (Harbhajan) requires moral support from the team, BCCI and from the country. He should appeal against the ban. Former Test opener Navjot Singh Sidhu, however, was livid with the decision and said if necessary Indian team should return home.
Meanwhile, BCCI Vice-President Rajiv Shukla said they had not yet received any communication from the International Cricket Council regarding the ban. "Nothing has been communicated to us yet. But if a ban is imposed, we will appeal against it within 24 hours. Harbhajan will appeal and the BCCI will also appeal," Shukla said.
BCCI's Chief Administrative Manager Ratnakar Shetty said it was an "unfortunate" development. "There was no evidence against Harbhajan so I don't know how they could arrive at such a conclusion," he said.