Veteran India spinner Harbhajan Singh has opened up about the infamous 2008 Test against Australia in Sydney. The controversial game is known for the all wrong reasons. It was the same game where Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds had clashed on the field before the latter accused the former of calling him a monkey.
Not only that, the game was also marred by several poor umpiring decisions as India suffered a bitter loss. Umpires Steve Bucknor and Mark Benson had a shocker of a game as they delivered a number of controversial decisions. And when the match ended in a dramatic defeat for India in the final ten minutes of the Test, some commentators had suggested that the umpiring mistakes had a major impact on the course of the match.
Recalling that match, Harbhajan Singh said former Australia captain Ricky Ponting acted like an umpire in that match. Well, some of the decisions from the umpires were indeed inspired by what Ponting had told them on the field.
“When I talk about the 2008 Test against Australia in Sydney, I think in that match, Ricky Ponting was the umpire himself, he was claiming catches and then was pronouncing the verdict. Australians say what happens on the ground should stay on the ground, but the incident that happened between me and Symonds went beyond the ground,” Harbhajan said on the official YouTube channel of Aakash Chopra.
In the match, Ricky Ponting had claimed the catch of Sourav Ganguly in the second innings. The umpires were not sure as to whether it was a clean catch or not, but Ponting seemed to have raised his finger, signalling it’s out. To everyone’s surprise, the umpires adjudged Ganguly out.
Harbhajan Singh further opened up on the Monkeygate scandal. He was handed a three-match ban by referee Mike Procter although the charges were downgraded on 29 January 2008 to the lesser charge of using abusive language.
“Me and Symonds were very close to each other, only Tendulkar was close to us, there was no one else close to us, when the hearing started, Matthew Hayden, Adam Gilchrist, Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting, all these four said that they heard what Bhajji said to Symonds,” Harbhajan Singh said.
“I thought you guys were nowhere near the picture, even Sachin Tendulkar did not know what actually transpired between me and Symonds, only both of us knew what we actually talked about, I was engulfed in a conspiracy, there was an enquiry and I was very scared as to what was happening with me. Australian media made me Michael Jackson, I was being constantly chased by cameras,” he added.