Harbhajan Singh faced a tough time after the monkey gate scandal. The situation unfolded when veteran India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh was charged for racially abusing Australia all-rounder Andrew Symonds in the second Test in 2008 at Sydney. The incident saw a fallout between Symonds and Harbhajan with bitterness being created between both the sides.
Even after years the memories of the infamous scandal are fresh in the minds of cricket fans. It unfolded after Harbhajan Singh and Sachin Tendulkar were involved in a eighth-wicket stand that was frustrating Australia. Symonds went close to Harbhajan and muttered some words. The Australian were convinced that the spinner had called him ‘monkey’ but Harbhajan denied the claims.
Harbhajan Singh: It was a tough phase, I was constantly being chased and made a superstar
Harbhajan Singh opened up on his suspension and further enquiries, saying it was a tough phase for him. He was also convinced that Matthew Hayden, Adam Gilchrist, Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting heard what he said during the incident. Further explaining the situation, Singh said, he was made to look like pop stat Michael Jackson in Australia.
“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 Singh in an interaction with Aakash Chopra on YouTube.
“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.
Harbhajan, however, was cleared of the charges with Symonds’ career being effected due to the incident.