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Bhajji hearing: Engineer can draw on personal experience
Gulu Ezekiel/GE Features | April 27, 2008 20:15 IST
Last Updated: April 27, 2008 20:24 IST
When Match Referee and former India wicket-keeper Farokh Engineer hands down his judgment on Monday on the Harbhajan Singh [Images]/S Sreesanth [Images] IPL fracas which unfolded in Mohali on Friday, he can go back 33 years to draw on personal experience.
It was during the 1975 Prudential World Cup match against East Africa at Headingley, Leeds that Engineer and all-rounder Abid Ali, both armed with cricket bats engaged in a slugfest of their own in the Indian dressing room.
The incident is narrated in Sunil Gavaskar's [Images] book Sunny Days released in 1976.
According to the book: "On the field too, one noticed both saying things to each other heatedly. It was more like a bout between Mohammad Ali and Joe Frazier, the difference being both threatened each other with bats. Unfortunately for the bat manufacturers, the stronger bat was never found out, because the other members of the team intervened and stopped the quarrel from proceeding further. Yet it was horrible while it lasted."
Incidentally, Engineer was Man of Match for his unbeaten 54 as India won the match by 10 wickets for their lone win in both the inaugural 1975 World Cup and the subsequent one in 1979.
Of course there were no ICC [Images] regulations on player conduct in place then. And what happens in a team dressing room usually stays there. The cricket world would have been unaware of the ugly incident but for Gavaskar's stunning revelations back then.
This time it was all out in the open and in front of the cameras too.
It may be recalled that Pakistan's own bad boy, fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar [Images] was banned by the Pakistan Cricket Board when he assaulted teammate Mohammad Asif [Images] with a bat in the dressing room just before the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa last September. A similar incident broke out among the Pakistan players while training for the 2003 World Cup.
Harbhajan's fate will soon be known. And the cricket world �particularly Australia--will watch with added interest considering he escaped a harsh sentence after verbally clashing with Australia's Andrew Symonds [Images] in Sydney in January.
The last time something similar was witnessed in Indian cricket was back in January 1991. Pace bowler Rashid Patel chased the late Raman Lamba round the ground, stump in hand during the final of the Duleep Trophy between North and West Zone at Jamshedpur. Both players received short bans.And in the mid-80s Maninder Singh and Manoj Prabhakar, Test players both, went at each other on the pitch during an inter-office match in New Delhi.