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Bindra turns saviour again
Gulu Ezekiel/GE Features | May 15, 2008 16:57 IST
Harbhajan Singh's [Images] ban of five One-day Internationals imposed by the BCCI after slapping S. Sreesanth [Images] in an IPL match makes him the fourth Indian cricketer in recent years to be punished by his own board, apart from those involved in the match fixing saga of a few years back.
The off spinner was also banned from the remainder of the Indian Premier League with a subsequent loss of income of close to Rs. 3 crores.
But the modicum of punishment imposed by the BCCI is considered lenient considering his assault of a fellow-player carries a penalty of up to a life ban as per ICC [Images] regulations.
The previous Indian cricketer to receive a ban from the BCCI was Navjot Singh Sidhu.
The opener had walked out of the 1996 tour of England [Images] following a spat with captain Mohammad Azharuddin after being dropped for the third One-day International at Old Trafford and threatened to resign from international cricket.
Sidhu received a ban of 50 days and had half his tour fees cut. But with little international cricket in that period, he actually only missed out on the one-off Test against Australia played in New Delhi in October 1996.
He was back in contention when South Africa visited India late in 1996 and played for India 'A' against the tourists. He eventually made it back to the national side for the tour of the West Indies [Images] early in 1997.
Sidhu's act was unprecedented and the light sentence came in for much criticism at the time.
It was imposed by IS Bindra who was the president of the BCCI and also president of the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA). Sidhu represented Punjab in the Ranji Trophy.
Bindra remains president of the PCA and though he does not hold a formal position in the BCCI, he is considered the power behind president Sharad Pawar [Images]. He is also due to assume the post of Principal Advisor in the ICC.
Coincidentally, like Sidhu 12 years earlier, Harbhajan too represents Punjab in the Ranji Trophy. Bindra's hand is thus seen once again in what is perceived as a slap on the wrist.
Incidentally, the only previous recorded instance in which Indian cricketers were involved in a physical tussle was in the final of the Duleep Trophy between North Zone and West Zone at Jamshedpur in January 1991.
Bowler Rashid Patel chased batsman Raman Lamba all the way to the boundary with stump in hand while Lamba used his bat to protect himself.
Patel was suspended from all cricket for 13 months while Lamba, who died in 1998 after being hit on the head while fielding in Bangladesh, was banned for 10 months.
Harbhajan can therefore consider himself fortunate to have Bindra in his corner. As did Sidhu back in 1996.