Former India cricketer VVS Laxman feels that the infamous ‘Monkeygate’ scandal in 2008 was ‘blown out of proportion’. Laxman takes a trip down memory lane, and not the fondest of times for the Indians involved in the 2008 Sydney Test match where off-spinner, Harbhajan Singh was alleged for racially abusing Australian all-rounder, Andrew Symonds.
The Match referee, Mike Procter, initially suspended Harbhajan for three Tests but later reduced it to a 50% match-fee fine on appeal and after the Indian team, led by veteran Anil Kumble, threatened to boycott the remaining tour.
“The Monkeygate issue was blown out of proportion. At one time we thought we will call off the series. Anil as the captain acted like a diplomat. I think the BCCI ultimately made the right decision and we continued with the series,” VVS Laxman told Star Sports.
The umpires made some huge blunders: VVS Laxman
Laxman believes that the Indian team had a good chance of winning the Test match and level the series after losing the first Test in Melbourne. However, as Laxman points out, Andrew Symonds was given an unfair advantage a few times after clearly being out. Symonds made full use of the reprieves given to him by the umpires as he notched a hundred after India had the hosts down at 134/6.
“I wouldn’t call it the Aussie arrogance. But I just feel after losing the Melbourne Test we had a great chance of winning the Sydney Test match. Yes, it will be remembered more for the Monkeygate but I thought we had a great chance of winning that Test match,” VVS Laxman added.
“The bowlers, especially when we started bowling in the first innings took early wickets. Australia was under pressure and then Andrew Symonds, I think he was out two or three times and the umpires made huge blunders.”
The 46-year-old former batsman was furious upon the incorrect decisions of the umpires at that time, Steve Bucknor and Mark Benson. Symonds was deemed not out after edging the ball, the leg-umpire didn’t refer with the third umpire when a stumping appeal was made nor when Michael Clarke claimed a controversial catch of Sourav Ganguly. Ricky Ponting was given not out after edging one down the leg side and Wasim Jaffer was given out off a no-ball from Brett Lee.
“I cannot ever forget the way I think RP Singh got the nick of Symonds. There was a big sound but the umpire ruled not out. Unfortunately, that led to Andrew Symonds getting a big hundred and after that what followed, especially on the last day, the way Sourav and Rahul were out I think was in very poor taste,” the former batsman said.