India suspends Australian cricket tour!
Harbhajan Singh ponders his thoughts during the marathon hearing at the SCG Picture: Phil Hillyard
"The Board will appeal to the International Cricket Council to review the decision of the match referee and suspend its operation till the appeal is disposed of,'' the BCCI said in a statement released this evening.
Harbhajan was suspended on Sunday by the International Cricket Council for three tests after being found guilty of racially abusing Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds during the second Test in Sydney.
Harbhajan has denied the claims and the BCCI said the tour would be suspended until his appeal had been heard.
"The Indian Board realises the game of cricket is paramount but so too is the honour of the Indian team and for that matter every Indian," it said.
"To vindicate its position, the Board will fight the blatantly false and unfair slur on an Indian player."
The Indian team were due to travel to Canberra today to prepare for their next tour match but returned to their hotel rooms after sitting on their bus for two hours.
Australia lead the four-match series 2-0.
The BCCI is understood to have called an emergency meeting in Delhi and was waiting late today for delegates to fly in from other parts of India.
Relations between the teams reached crisis point last night when Indian captain Anil Kumble accused the Australians of not playing in the spirit of the game.
"Only one team was playing in the spirit of the game,'' Kumble said, echoing the famous remark made by Australian captain Bill Woodfull during the Bodyline series 75 years ago.
Australia captain Ricky Ponting said he believed the match had been played in an excellent spirit and Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland suggested today that Ponting and Kumble should get together to help mend relations.
Cricket Australia has heard no official word on an Indian complaint that Australian spinner Brad Hogg had allegedly abused one of the Indian players on the field.
The Indian team also expressed its lack of confidence in umpires Mark Benson and Steve Bucknor and requested that Bucknor be removed from the third Test in Perth due to start next Wednesday.
The Indians were on the wrong end of at least five demonstrably poor umpiring decisions during the Sydney Test which they lost by 122 runs.
The most blatant of them was an appeal for caught behind against Symonds when he was on 30 in the first innings.
Symonds, who freely admitted he had hit the ball and should have been out, went on to make a match turning 162 not out and was later named man-of-the match.
Australian Darren Lehmann was the first player to be banned for racial abuse when he was suspended for five one-dayers over a racial remark in earshot of the Sri Lankan dressing room during the 2002/03 season.