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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 February 2008, 19:28 GMT
Hayden rebuked for Harbhajan slur
Matthew Hayden (left) and Harbhajan Singh
There seems no love lost between Hayden (left) and Harbhajan
Matthew Hayden has been reprimanded by Cricket Australia after describing Harbhajan Singh as an "obnoxious little weed" during a radio interview.

Hayden was charged with violating CA's code of conduct in relation to the "public denigration of other players".

The charge was upheld at a hearing in Melbourne - but no further action will be taken and Hayden can play against India in the one-day CB Series final.

"I maintain my innocence but I respect and accept the decision," said Hayden.

"My intentions were never to denigrate cricket or anyone. But we've got a trophy out there that, for the next few weeks, I'm obviously really keen with my team-mates to concentrate on."

And Cricket Australia spokesman Phillip Pope told BBC Radio 5 Live: "Obviously Matthew was found guilty and was issued a formal reprimand, which is serious in its own way - it's been taken seriously by both the player and Cricket Australia."

Hayden has been involved in a series of disputes with Indian spinner Harbhajan, often clashing with him during the two sides' bitter current series down under, and he admitted he has had "a bit of a long battle" with him.

The opener claimed in his radio interview that India were complaining so much on this tour because "they are losing every game they are playing".

I like the idea of actually getting into the ring (with Ishant Sharma). I like that, bring it on

Matthew Hayden

"It's been a bit of a long battle with Harbhajan. The first time I ever met him he was the same little obnoxious weed that he is now," stated Hayden.

"His record speaks for itself in cricket. There is a certain line that you can kind of go to and then you know where you push it and he just pushes it all the time."

The two players reportedly clashed again on Sunday, when the Indian team accused 94-Test veteran Hayden of calling the off-spinner "mad boy".

That claim was denied by Hayden, who said: "I called him a bad boy. He took offence to that and I thought that was quite funny. I said, 'Mate you should be flattered, it's a clothing range'."

606: DEBATE

During a tempestuous tour, 19-year-old bowler Ishant Sharma was fined 15% of his match fee after he was found guilty of breaching the player's code of conduct following an ugly exchange with Symonds in Sydney on Sunday.

"He is just young. I have said to him many times, 'You are 19, take it easy'," added Hayden of the teenage fast bowler.

"He is 19, why doesn't he just worry about his bowling for a while? I like the idea of actually getting into the ring (with him). I like that, bring it on."

Australia are due to play India in the best-of-three final of the one-day CB series, which starts in Sydney on 2 March.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India said that it was pleased Cricket Australia had decided to act following Hayden's comments, which would not jeopardise the rest of the tour.

"The BCCI is happy that Cricket Australia has taken note and acted on this," chief administrative officer Ratnakar Shetty told the BBC.

"For a player to go on the radio and talk about another visiting player is something that has really shocked us.

Sometimes it had better be said on the field but perhaps Matthew Hayden just wanted to get it off his chest

Shane Warne

"We have told our team management that they should not react to such incidents. They should focus on cricket."

Former England bowler Dominic Cork agreed, telling Radio 5 Live: "He [Hayden] has stepped over the line.

"We're all professional cricketers, we've all played international cricket and you respect your opponent. You keep your comments to yourself and do your talking on the pitch."

BBC Radio 5 Live's Pat Murphy added: "The ICC are not commenting on the issue but have said that the chief executive - Malcolm Speed - can overrule any decision made by a governing body regarding alleged breach of conduct, but this has to be done within five days of the initial offence."

Hayden and Harbhajan's running feud escalated during the second Test in Sydney last month, when the spinner was accused of making racist remarks to Australia all-rounder Andrew Symonds, the hosts' only mixed race player.

Hayden was a witness in the first hearing against Harbhajan which initially resulted in a four-Test ban.

That suspension was later overturned on appeal and Harbhajan was fined a portion of his match fee instead for abusive language.

Former Australia Test player Shane Warne said that the two teams should concentrate on playing cricket.

"Sometimes it's better to say it on the field but perhaps Matthew Hayden just wanted to get it off his chest," said Warne.

"I suppose there are ways to do that. The Test series was exciting and I'd like to see them both just get on and play cricket instead of some of the other stuff that's been going on.

"I think both sides have looked back and said we probably could have handled that situation a bit differently."



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