Andrew Symonds and the Monkeygate scandal which ruined the Aussie's career
- Andrew Symonds and Harbhajan Singh were involved in the Monkeygate scandal
- Symonds thought Singh had called him monkey
- Singh reportedly had said "Teri ma ki", meaning "Your mother"
Andrew Symonds, the Australian cricketing legend is dead at 46, due to a car crash. A memorable batter who could deliver medium paces and off-spins when the situation demanded, Symonds played a major part in Australian ODIs for the team which lifted World Cups in 2003 and 2007. However, Symonds' career was marred by the 'Monkeygate' incident which involved Indian spinner, Harbhajan Singh.
Ma ki...monkey: A Freudian slip
In 2008, India and Australia's rivalry had all the ingredients of a fiery matchup. When the former went touring Australia, there was some nerve-wracking cricket and on-field sledging.
Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh reportedly called Symonds 'Monkey' which was taken to be a racist comment. It occurred at the end of the 116th over during India's first innings.
The exchange got heated before Sachin Tendulkar and others stepped in to get a handle on the situation. Ricky Ponting and Tendulkar were called as witnesses and both supported their teammates.
However, it was later ruled that Singh had said, "Teri ma ki" [your mother's], which is a Hindi abuse. Symonds had misheard it as 'Monkey'.
The incident was perceived as an injustice by the Australian cricketer, who felt his Indian counterpart should have faced some consequences. It led to a loss of trust with the Australian cricket board, and an eventual loss of confidence in his own cricketing ability, making Symonds a shadow of what he formerly was.
Singh on Monkeygate
Opening up about the incident on an episode of 'Backstage with Boria', Singh said "Obviously I was disturbed, I couldn’t understand why it was happening. Why was there so much of... for something that hadn’t happened. They had six or seven witnesses for something that I had not said. No one had heard it and yet it was blown out of proportion", adding, "The things that were said to me (while being) on the ground, ‘you have testicles on your head’, to hear such an insult towards my religion was the most difficult thing for me. I didn’t open my mouth then because if I did so, it would have resulted in more controversies".
He concluded, "Only I know how I spent time alone in my room during that difficult period. I didn’t try to talk much with the players or management. They were anyways backing me throughout the incident. I didn’t want to stress others with what I was going through. I had to deal with it in whatever way I could, and I am glad that I could and still go out there and play and win a few games for India in Australia".
Symonds on Monkeygate
The Australian also opened up about the incident and how it impacted him.
As per The Indian Express, Symonds said "I felt the burden and responsibility for the folks who backed me up, who said they heard what was said. In the previous tour in India, Harbhajan had called me a monkey there then. And I went straight after the game, called him out of the dressing room and spoke to him outside. I said boss the end of it. I said we got a few names for few of your boys and it will only get ugly. We shook hands", adding, " But when they (India) returned few months later to Australia for that New year’s Test, I remember Michael Clarke got the last wicket in the last over. It was the probably the greatest Test I had played."
He continued, "This incident with myself and Harbhajan had happened earlier that day. We had won the Test in the last over; Unbelievable test, I hadn’t played anything like that".
Speaking of the impact on mental health, Symonds had said, "The stump microphone evidence disappeared. It was just one thing after another. That weighed heavily on me. I started drinking heavily. I had the Australian Captain Ricky Ponting backing me. Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden backed me. They were good friends and still are".
He continued, "I didn’t deal well with it. I thought we are going to win this. I remember the legal team saying why don’t we downgrade and try getting him on this charge? But why are we downgrading it for? We got five men who heard what Harbhajan said. Why should we downgrade charges. What is going on?", adding, "I remember we had a meeting with Ponting before next game and with solicitors. I remember telling Punter this isn’t going well, is it? That weighed heavily on me. Ricky [Ponting] would say Roy [Symonds] was never the same after that. He felt responsible for putting the boys through all that. I felt guilty I suppose of dragging all of them into that situation. It all started going downhill".