Mike Procter questions Sachin Tendulkar’s role in ‘Monkeygate’ controversy
Mike Proctor, former South African all-rounder and the ICC match referee, said it was ‘disappointing’ that Sachin Tendulkar did not give his version of events during the early hearing.cricket Updated: Jan 21, 2018 18:08 IST
Mike Procter, former South African all-rounder and the ICC match referee, has questioned former Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar’s role in the infamous Monkeygate controversy during the Sydney Test between India and Australia in January 2008.
The controversy came to fore after Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds accused Indian cricket team spinner Harbhajan Singh of calling him monkey and saw Procter hand a three-match ban to the Indian spinner after a hearing. Harbhajan had brushed aside the allegations back then.
Procter has now published the full details of what went into that hearing in his recently-released autobiography ‘Caught in the Middle’. Speaking to the Sunday Express about the little master’s role, he said, ““It was very disappointing. If he had said that (him hearing Harbhajan say ‘ma ki’ and not monkey) upfront, it would have been a whole different version.
“If Sachin had said that he had heard this, it was to be one person’s word against the other. It was going to create doubt and so he (Harbhajan) would not be (held) guilty on racism charges.”
Quoting from a chapter from the book aptly titled ‘Monkeygate’, Procter further added, “The words ‘monkey’ and ‘ma ki’, heard 22 yards away, must sound very similar, and that entire episode could have been a high-profile case of lost in translation.
“But Tendulkar never came forward with that version to us in the initial hearing, which left me with very little choice.”
During the course of hearing, Harbhajan claimed to have no knowledge of English language and Procter was not ready to believe it.
“Harbhajan speaks English as good as I do. So he (Queen’s Counsel Nigel Peters, the ICC-appointed legal help at the hearing) said that they can have an interpreter, but he refused. Harbhajan didn’t offer anything… it was surprising that he did not argue,” he wrote in the book .
Procter also brought to light the role of the then manager of Indian cricket team, Chetan Chauhan in the fiasco.
“Manager Chetan Chauhan informed Ponting that the racism charge was completely made up, because as Indians, it was just not possible for them to be racist… To throw out Australia’s charge on the assumptive grounds that it was impossible for Indians to be racist would have made a mockery of the entire hearing.”
The 71-year-old, who could play only seven Tests for South Africa due to a ban imposed on the country for its policy of racial discrimination, admitted that the controversy took a toll on his mind.
“Yes, it did take a toll as it was too hot for me but then I was offered a job as the chairman of selectors and that’s when I sort of changed job,” he said.
First Published: Jan 21, 2018 18:03 IST