The Former Australian skipper Michael Clarke launched his autobiography ‘My Story’ in Kolkata on Tuesday. He lauded BCCI and Cricket Australia for their handling of the recent DRS controversy involving Steve Smith but felt the infamous 'Monkeygate' episode of 2007-08 series dragged on far too long.
Speaking about the 'Monkeygate' episode involving Andrew Symonds and Harbhajan, Clarke said:
“I’d be very honest about where I saw the situation at SCG at that time. I was very close to Andrew Symonds. I asked him whether he was racially vilified. It was not only about the racial vilification of Andrew. It should have ended right there, continuing with the spirit of the game.”
Harbhajan was initially handed a three-match ban which was later reduced, even as both the boards got locked in a fierce courtroom battle in the aftermath of India's 122-run defeat in the Sydney Test.
The incident happened during the third day the Sydney Test 2007-08. At the end of the 116th over of India's first innings, Harbhajan was batting with Tendulkar in a vital partnership for India, who had just lost a series of quick wickets. Lee was the bowler in that over and Harbhajan had just edged him over the slips for four. Harbhajan then tapped Lee on the backside with his bat, apparently saying "hard luck", to which Lee did not react. Symonds says he needed to stand up for Lee so in his own words, he "had a bit of a crack at Harbhajan, telling him exactly what I thought of his antics". Symonds went on to claim that Harbhajan then "shot back" by calling him a monkey.
Symonds stated in the appeal hearing that he believed that Test cricket was no place to be friendly to opposition players, so he spoke to Harbhajan. Under questioning he admitted that he had provoked the incident and used the word "f***" among other language against Harbhajan, who stated that he then became "very angry" because of the use of this word.
Sachin Tendulkar, who was batting at the other end offered his inputs to the umpires, and in the ensuing hearing, and also writes in his autobiography, that he heard Symonds going after Harbhajan repeatedly in an aggressive verbal assault, even before the Brett Lee over, and after this particular incident. He said he heard Harbhajan use the north Indian swear phrase, "Teri ma ki", which translates to "your mother" in a very derogative meaning.
Maybe Symonds would have overheard “Teri Maa ki” as “Teri Monkey”.
Ganguly also jokingly spoke about the 'Monkeygate', during the launch of Clarke’s book, he said, “I can guarantee you the Monkeygate will not have its true picture in the book. Because only a sardarji would know what another sardar was saying. You may call it Monkeygate, Hanumangate or whatever gate. I was standing next to Harbhajan Singh when he was saying those words. I know exactly what he meant. Nevertheless, the incident was a bit more than just the word Monkeygate.”
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