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Bhajji probe judge angers Board

Nanavati's statement to the media before submission of the report has angered the BCCI, reports A Karhadkar. Slapgate: more...

cricket Updated: May 08, 2008 02:30 IST
Amol Karhadkar

Nearly 10 days ago, Hindustan Times reported on how Harbhajan Singh had written a profusely apologetic and anguished letter to the BCCI, worried about the length and intensity of his potential punishment.

A little after he penned that letter, he was banned by the IPL for 11 to 13 games, and is awaiting the outcome of an independent BCCI inquiry into his slapping Sreesanth. On Wednesday, the letter came back to haunt him as a TV channel ran excerpts from it.

The Board chose not to react to the leak. What angered them more was the public statements of advocate Sudhir Nanavati, the man probing the incident. He told mediapersons on Tuesday he was “shocked” after watching footage of the incident. The BCCI top brass was shocked and “deeply unhappy” that he made remarks to the media “even before submitting his report”.

“How can an investigator make public statements even before submitting his report, and before completing his inquiry?” a top Board official, not willing to be named, told the HT on Wednesday. “In a way, it gives the impression that he has arrived at a conclusion even before probing the episode completely.”

Nanavati, post a teleconference with Farokh Engineer, match referee for the Mumbai-Mohali game on April 25, told the media (in the presence of IPL commissioner Lalit Modi here): “What I saw (in the footage) was shocking, but it has made my job easier.” Nanavati is slated to meet both Harbhajan and Sreesanth in Ahmedabad over Friday and Saturday before submitting his report to the BCCI president Sharad Pawar on Monday. What the Board, already split down the middle over the need for further punishment, does with his report, will be interesting.

What Bhajji wrote: “I did apologise to Sreesanth after the incident and I would do so again in public if needed… Along with accepting my most sincere and heartfelt apologies over this incident, I’d like to appeal to the board's sense of fair play and ask for one final chance before taking any disciplinary action against me over this incident.”

Nanavati to a news channel on Tuesday: “So far the documents I have received do not indicate to that extent (that there was any provocation)...”