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Bhajji questions Gilchrist's integrity after remarks on Sachin

Sydney, Oct 25 (UNI) Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh has hit back at Adam Gilchrist over his remarks on Sachin Tendulkar's honesty on the 'Monkeygate' issue and said the Australian is no saint himself whose integrity could have always been questioned during his playing days.

Gilchrist committed the Indian cricket equivalent of ''blasphemy'' in his autobiography by suggesting that Tendulkar changed his evidence to help Harbhajan escape a racism charge.

''He should not be talking about Sachin. It is all rubbish,'' Harbhajan was quoted as saying by 'The Age' yesterday.

''We don't respect him. He pretends to be a saint and people say he walks when he nicks, but why did he appeal when batsmen don't nick? ''He always changes his mind according to a situation. If Australia is close to a victory he is always going up (appealing), whether it is out or not out. We don't need him to say these things (about Tendulkar) just because he is retired,'' the Indian off-spinner added.

In his book, ''True Colours of My Life,'' which is to be released next week, Gilchrist describes Tendulkar's evidence as a ''joke''.

He wrote that Tendulkar initially testified he had not heard what Harbhajan said to Symonds, then at the appeal hearing claimed Harbhajan used a Hindi word that could have sounded like ''monkey'' to an Australian ear.

Although the offie refused to discuss the specifics of Tendulkar's evidence, he said no player can stand anywhere close to Tendulkar's staure.

''I don't want to talk about that episode again and again. It is over.

''If you talk to any guy who plays or follows cricket about Sachin Tendulkar, they will talk about the respect he commands.

These guys can't come close to him. I am really shocked,'' he conceded.

Gilchrist has always drawn great respect in the game and was regarded as one of the best entertainers of the game.

He was considered as one of the fairest players who would not wait for an umpires decision if he nicks a ball and would start moving to pavilion.

But the former Australian vice-captain called Tendulkar with names like ''liar'', ''dishonest'', ''sore loser'' and ''a bad sport'' in his autobiography.

''In the Australian mentality, we play it hard and are then quick to shake hands and leave it all on the field,'' he wrote.

''Some of our opponents don't do it that way. Sachin Tendulkar, for instance, can be hard to find for a changing-room handshake after we have beaten India. Harbhajan can also be hard to find. I guess it's a case of different strokes for different folks,'' Gilchrist wrote.

However, Harbhajan and Matthew Hayden whose relationship had also reached the pinnacle of acrimony seemed to have burried the hatchet since the last summer's Sydney Test.

''We are very focused on cricket and on the next Test in Delhi,'' Harbhajan said.

''We know Australia will come back very strong. It has been a great series so far. There have been no dramas in the first two Tests. I hope the next two will be played in the gentleman's spirit,'' he added.

However, Indian speedster Zaheer Khan was fined 80 per cent of his match fee for giving Hayden a send-off when he was dismissed in the second Test at Mohali.

Earlier, once Greg Chappell too, the then coach of Indian team had questioned the attitude of senior players after the side's disastrous 2007 World Cup campaign which forced Tendulkar to issue a rare and angry public statement.

But Chappell's predecessor, New Zealander John Wright, who had fair success with the Indian team during his tenure as coach said he was surprised Tendulkar's sportsmanship had been questioned.

''During my time with the team, impeccable would be a word that comes to mind,'' said Wright, who coached India to a famous series victory in 2001 and to a series draw in Australia in 2003-04.


Story first published: Saturday, October 25, 2008, 11:02 [IST]
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