FRUSTRATED Australian players will present Cricket Australia with a letter expressing their disappointment at the perceived lack of support offered to them during the Harbhajan Singh appeal.
The Herald reported that the Australian players, through their representative body, the Australian Cricketers' Association, will formally air their grievances to an employer they believe pressured them into accepting a move to downgrade a charge of racism against Harbhajan. The players feel pressure was applied by CA on two fronts.
Firstly, CA outlined the financial repercussions that would be incurred if India withdrew from the one-day series, as they had threatened if Harbhajan's appeal against a three-Test racism ban was unsuccessful.
The cricketers were told CA, the tournament host, could be sued for up to $60 million by ESPN, the company which purchased the rights to televise the series into Asia, if India withdrew. CA further advised that such a loss would take up to 10 years to recoup.
Players also felt pressure in the form of legal advice from CA, which told them that by downgrading the charge against Harbhajan from a 3.3 to a 2.8 - in effect, reducing a charge of racial vilification to one of verbal abuse - the Australians would have a better chance of successfully prosecuting the controversial Indian spinner. The players grudgingly agreed to the downgrade, which resulted in Harbhajan escaping suspension and incurring a minimal fine.
The paper said cricketers' association chief executive Paul Marsh is particularly angry that, as a result of the charge downgrade and Hansen's decision, Australian players were portrayed as the guilty party. The association feels the board displayed hypocrisy in having espoused a commitment to stamping out racial vilification from cricket, only to sweep it under the carpet. The move of the players to complain to CA in writing has the support of association president Darren Lehmann, who clarified his position after initially expressing satisfaction with the disciplinary process. "Post-hearing, we are very disappointed with the outcome and the subsequent unwarranted fallout for the Australian players," Lehmann said on Thursday. Australia's players have declined to speak publicly about their anger at CA, reluctant to further inflame a situation that some feel has already affected the quality of their play. But in sending a letter to their employer, the cricketers will leave little doubt as to their feelings.