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'Umpires heard no racial abuse'

Match umpires did not hear any alleged racial abuse of Australia's during the second cricket Test against India, match referee Mike Procter has said.

india Updated: Jan 05, 2008 18:47 IST

Match umpires did not hear any alleged racial abuse of Australia's during the second cricket Test against India, match referee Mike Procter said on Saturday.

India spinner Harbhajan Singh faces a charge of racial abuse against Andrew Symonds after a complaint lodged by Australian skipper Ricky Ponting to match umpires Mark Benson and Steve Bucknor during Friday's third day.

Procter is to convene a hearing into the allegations after the end of the Sydney Test on Sunday.

Procter said neither of the on-field officials were aware of the heated exchange between Harbhajan and Symonds during Friday's final session.

"The umpires did not hear anything, they did not know anything about it," he told Channel Nine television.

Harbhajan has denied he racially abused Symonds.

"I did not say anything racist. I do not know what is going on," he told Saturday's Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.

"I haven't done anything, we were just talking. It wasn't even sledging, it was just normal talk out on the cricket field. I was concentrating on my batting."

In the wake of the allegations Indian great Sunil Gavaskar accused the Australian side of double standards following Ponting's complaint.

Gavaskar has been a fierce critic of the behaviour of Ponting's men in the past and felt the Australians could dish it out but not take it in return.

"If the umpires have not heard it, then what has happened to the famous Australian saying of 'what happens on the field stays on the field'," Gavaskar said on television.

"In this instance if the umpires have not heard anything why is this line not being used for this particular incident.

"Is it only when the Australians give it to somebody (that) what happens on the field stays on the field but when they get it. Has it got to be reported? Doesn't it stay on the field?"

Former Australian captain Mark Taylor said he feared Ponting had opened a can of worms and potential tit-for-tat citings by rival captains over on-field behaviour.

"I think Ricky has opened up Pandora's box in terms of this," Taylor said.

"The Australians play tough cricket and make the odd chirp, if this goes any further I am sure there will be other times when Ricky Ponting will be on the other side of the ledger when the Australian team make the chirp."

If found guilty, Harbhajan could face a ban of between two and four Test matches or between four and eight one-day internationals.

Australian wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist accused Pakistan counterpart Rashid Latif of racial abuse during the 2003 World Cup in South Africa, but Latif was cleared because of a lack of evidence.

Australian Darren Lehmann was the first player to be banned for racial abuse when he was outed for five one-dayers over a racial remark in earshot of the Sri Lankan dressing room during the 2002/03 season.