Neil Maxwell, a cricket agent and former CEO of Kings XI Punjab, has revealed that Andrew Symonds needed some convincing to join the inaugural IPL in 2008 as he was disillusioned following the fracas with Harbhajan Singh during the Monkeygate scandal.
Harbhajan and Symonds had an ugly altercation when India toured Australia in 2007/08, in what was one of the sport’s most bitter series and caused a downturn in India-Australia relations. Harbhajan was handed a three-match ban at the time, although it was later overturned on appeal, while Symonds only played nine Tests after the scandal broke.
Symonds has since said the incident contributed to the premature end to his career, as he was disillusioned by the sport and the politics behind it. As per Maxwell, he very nearly didn’t play the IPL because of it.
“Lalit Modi asked me to convince the Australian players and the New Zealand players that they needed to come to the IPL, and not go to the ICL or, in Andrew Symonds’ case, not go at all,” Maxwell said on The Top Order podcast. “He didn’t want to go at all, because he had that blowout with Harbhajan.
“So I had to work the Australian cricket team. I was working them all. I remember we’re putting contracts in front of them, and there was going to be a minimum amount, they were going to this thing called the auction. So Andrew Symonds was going to get 200,000 USD minimum [$US 250,000]. And that was about an Australian Cricket contract [for a whole year] – he was on about 300, let’s say.
“He was going to get that for six weeks guaranteed, and it could only go up. I remember trying to convince him that he needed to be part of this competition.”
Andrew Symonds, who last played international cricket in 2009, had a strike-rate of 169.34 in T20Is.https://t.co/mEDZmtFavE
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) June 2, 2020
Symonds would go on to become the most expensive overseas player in that auction, and the second most expensive player overall, after Deccan Chargers bought him for $US 1.35 million.
“Anyway, he reluctantly agreed, and 48 hours later, he had 1.2 million [$1.35m] a year for three years as a contract. You talk about transformation, that was transformation as they introduced the auction.
“I was convincing the players that they needed to do it, and of course, after that, everyone thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. And as a result of that, I was recommended as one of the CEOs.”
Symonds and Harbhajan would go on to become teammates at Mumbai Indians in 2011, where Symonds, a decade on from the Sydney incident, said Harbhajan “broke down crying” and apologised to him for it. However, Harbhajan refuted that, saying on Twitter, “When did that happen???”