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ICC hauls up Darren Lehmann

Melbourne: Australian batsman Darren Lehmann has been charged by cricket’s governing body after a remark which he made upset the Sri Lankan cricket team during Wednesday’s triangular one-day series match.

The Sri Lankans lodged a complaint with Match Referee Clive Lloyd after Lehmann was overheard making an offensive comment about the tourists. Lehmann made the remark in the Australian dressing room just after he had been dismissed, but his remarks were overhead by members of the Sri Lankan team who were in an adjoining room.

Lehmann apologised to the Sri Lankans, both in person and in writing, and the tourists said later they had decided not to proceed with any charges.

However, the ICC released a statement Thursday to announce that Lehmann had been charged with a Level 3.4 breach of the ICC Code of Conduct for Players and Officials. “As a result of an overnight investigation and on the basis of reports received from Australia, I have decided to charge Darren Lehmann with a breach of Level 3.4 of the ICC Code of Conduct,” ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed said in a statement.

“I am aware that Mr Lehmann has apologised for his actions and that the Sri Lanka team was reluctant to lay any formal charges. I have, however, carefully considered the situation and, in the interests of eradicating racial vilification in international cricket, I am bound to lay this charge.”

The penalty could be as much as an eight-match suspension if Lehmann is found guilty, the ICC statement said, and would be a huge blow for the Australian batsman just three weeks before the start of next month’s World Cup.

Level 3.4 of the ICC Code reads: “Using language or gestures that offends, insults, humiliates, intimidates, threatens, disparages or vilifies another person on the basis of that person’s race, religion, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin.”

Sri Lanka manager Ajit Jayasekera said: “It just happened on the spur of the moment and he apologised. As far as we are concerned, the matter is closed.”

Lloyd said he was powerless to take any action against the Australian batsman unless charges were laid, but the ACB said it was investigating whether the left-hander had breached their strict code of conduct laws on player behaviour.

The ACB found that Lehmann had made an offensive off-field comment and the board has arranged for the player to undergo counselling. “It is clear that he has acted in an undesirable manner,” ACB chief executive James Sutherland said.

“I just said something I shouldn’t have,” Lehmann said at Adelaide airport Thursday. “I apologised to the Sri Lankan team on their way off... it was in the dressing room, the heat of the moment and out of frustration.”

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