Jan 13, 2008 at 09:50am IST

Racist taunt OK, but only from friends: Symonds

New Delhi: It's a statement that could worsen the racism row between India and Australia. Aussie cricketer Andrew Symonds has gone on the offensive against Harbhajan Singh ahead of the hearing on the latter's appeal against a three-match ban.

Speaking to Australian newspaper Sunday Herald Sun, Symonds said that Harbhajan had overstepped all boundaries when he allegedly called him a ‘monkey’ during the Sydney test.

He said he will tolerate comments on his Aborigine heritage only from friends and Harbhajan is not one of them.

NOT FRIENDS: Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds walk past each other on Day IV.

"If you know me well you can have a joke to me about anything and any part of racism and I will laugh. I am not sensitive about it, but if I am not your friend, if you are an opposition player or something like that, it is unacceptable,” he said.

Ahead of the Perth Test against India, Symonds declared he could tolerate racism - but only from those he knew.

However, Symonds said some rival cricketers could afford to make a racist comment without raising his ire.

"Even with opposition players, if I do know them well and they want to joke about something like that, it doesn't stir me up so what's happened is something I and the Australian boys have taken very seriously,” PTI quoted him as saying in the international daily.

"It (the racism affair) is a really difficult thing for me to comment on as it hasn't been totally resolved," he added.

"Obviously, people are very interested in what's happened but they probably won't actually know exactly what's happened for quite some time, until the dust has settled," Symonds said.

But he claimed Harbhajan's actions, during a Test match, had annoyed him because it breached the boundaries of social acceptability.

"I'm very relaxed about life and I understand there are many different types of people," he said.

"You know, I used to have a bit of fun and people used to have a bit of fun with me in the playground when I was at school so I understand that kids are very blunt about that sort of thing.

"But it (racism) is one of those things that, in the modern day, is obviously very publicly unacceptable," Symonds said.

The racism allegations against Harbhajan had literally threatened to derail the Test series. India had threatened to walk out after Harbhajan was found guilty in a controversial hearing by the ICC panel.

(With inputs from PTI)

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