Former Australia cricketer Andrew Symonds on Friday claimed that the infamous ‘monkeygate’ scandal with India a decade ago during the Sydney Test in January 2008 drove him to booze.
A decade ago Symonds had accused Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh of using ‘monkey’ slur. The claim was denied by the Indian player.
Now, while talking to Fox Sports and Triple M commentator Mark Howard in an episode of his podcast The Howie Games, Symonds said that it wasn’t the first time Harbhajan had crossed the line with him.
“I’d spoken to Harbhajan the (ODI) series before in India; he’d called me a monkey before in India,” Symonds told Howard, before adding, “I went into their dressing room and said, ‘Can I speak to Harbhajan for a minute outside please?’ So he came outside and I said, ‘Look, the name calling’s got to stop or else it’s going to get out of hand. We’ve got a few names for you blokes and you’ve obviously got a few names for us and that’s all good but it’s going to end in tears so let’s knock it on the head.’”
“So we shook hands and he said, ‘No problem boss, all good,’” added the former Australian cricketer.
However, according to Symonds that was not the end and during India’s tour Down Under in 2008. Harbhajan Singh called him a ‘monkey’ during New Year’s Test.
Speaking to Howard, Symonds explained the incident took place when Brett Lee was bowling short and fast as they were “trying to take him out” by breaking fingers or ribs so he wouldn’t be a threat on a wearing wicket late in the match.
And during his innings, Harbhajan Singh tapped Lee on his backside with his bat. After which Symonds said to Harbhajan, “Listen here d***head, we’re not out here to make friends, you’re about to get hurt here.”.
“And he started going, ‘You’re nothing but a monkey,’” Symonds said, before adding, “He said it probably two or three times. From that moment on that was my downhill slide.”
The 43-year-old also explained how the entire episode affected him and said, “I started to drink heavily as a result of it and my life was starting to dissolve around me.”
“I felt the pressure and the weight of dragging those mates of mine into the cauldron of this cesspit that should never have got to this sort of point where we felt guilty,” he added.
“I was dealing with it the wrong way. I felt guilty that I’d dragged my mates (teammates) into something I didn’t think they deserved to be involved in,” Symonds said.
Andrew Symonds played his last game for Australian cricket team in May 2009 and just a month after that Cricket Australia (CA) withdraw their contract and he was sent back home for “breaking a number of team rules related to alcohol and other issues”.
After the incident, Harbhajan Singh was banned for three games, however, the decision was later overturned when India threatened to pull out from the tour.