The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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County debut put off till doosra verdict
- Harbhajan Singh's 'future' is now in the hands of human movement specialist Marc Portus

Calcutta: Harbhajan Singh has delayed his County debut, for front-rankers Surrey, as his doosra is being scrutinised by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

'Yes, I would have been in London had circumstances been different' I've delayed reporting at The Oval as I wish to play with a free mind,' India's most successful off-spinner told The Telegraph.

Earlier, Harbhajan's deal with Lancashire fell through ('in 2003 and 2004') as he had to rest after the last World Cup and, then, undergo surgery.

Contacted in Jalandhar on Monday afternoon, he added: 'It's nice that Surrey have understood my feelings and agreed to my leaving India after the ICC has conveyed its latest decision'

Captained by Mark Butcher, the County has Steve Rixon as coach.

Harbhajan is, of course, also recovering from a side strain suffered towards the end of the recent ODIs against Pakistan.

India's solitary hattrick-getter in Tests, it may be recalled, got reported by Match Referee Chris Broad after last month's Test here versus Pakistan.

Back in December, Broad had reported him after the Chittagong Test as well.

Nothing came of that, though, as human movement specialist Bruce Elliott cleared Harbhajan after an extensive 'lab' study in Perth.

This time, the 'review' is being done by another specialist based in Australia ' Marc Portus.

The ICC wanted the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to again send Harbhajan to Australia, but the BCCI insisted Portus should first complete his review.

In fact, Harbhajan will only head for Australia if Portus deems his doosra does exceed the 15 degrees of permitted elbow straightening.

Portus, one understands, is currently studying the Chittagong and Calcutta Tests' footage. Elliott's report has also been forwarded to him by the ICC.

Given that more than a month has passed since Broad moved the ICC for a second time, Harbhajan's anxiety is understandable.

The other day, he even admitted the controversy had 'affected' his bowling in the face-offs against Pakistan.

However, left to him, Harbhajan (whose action was first questioned in October 1998) remains convinced his doosra is clean.

Either way, the official position ought to be known soon.

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