‘Hayden, Gilchrist, Clarke, Ponting claimed they heard what I said’: Harbhajan recalls 2008 ‘MonkeyGate’ scandal
Veteran India bowler Harbhajan Singh recalled the infamous ‘monkeygate’ scandal that took place in the 2008 Test series against Australia. In a recent interview, Harbhajan credited Anil Kumble and the rest of the Indian team for standing by his side during the tough phase of his career. A verbal fight had broken out between former Australia allrounder Andrew Symonds and Harbhajan during Sydney Test match, which led to the controversy.
“When I talk about the 2008 Test against Australia in Sydney, I think in that match, Ricky Ponting was the umpire himself, he was claiming catches and then was pronouncing the verdict. A lot of things happened. The Australians always say what happens on the ground should stay on the ground, but the incident that happened between me and Symonds went beyond the ground,” the off-spinner recalled in the latest episode of Aakash Chopra’s Youtube show ‘Aakash Vani’.
“Me and Symonds were very close to each other. Only Sachin Tendulkar was close to me, he was five-six steps away and there was no one else close to us. But when the discussion started, Matthew Hayden, Adam Gilchrist, Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting, all these four said that they heard what Bhajji said to Symonds,” Harbhajan further recalled.
“I said ‘I thought you guys were nowhere near the picture. If you watch the footage, you are nowhere’. Even Sachin Tendulkar, who was standing close to us, did not know what actually transpired between me and Symonds, only both of us knew what we actually talked about.
“But I was trapped. There was an enquiry and I was very scared as to what was happening with me. ‘Why always me, why I always get into trouble. l don’t want the attention and the cameras always following me’. Australian media made me Michael Jackson, I was constantly being chased by the cameras. I was made the superstar, like Sachin Tendulkar of the team,” the 39-year-old said.
“That was a tough phase. At the time, the team stood by me. Anil Kumble made a really good decision and he said that if he has not made a mistake, then we will stand by him. We were all together. I am very thankful to Anil bhai, to my teammates, and BCCI who fought for me, and for India,” he added.