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Ten years after Monkeygate, Harbhajan & Symonds disagree again

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Ten years after ‘Monkeygate’, Andrew Symonds and Harbhajan Singh are in disagreement again, this time about Harbhajan’s apology.

Symonds, in an interview, claimed the Indian spinner “broke down crying” while apologising to him years after the event. Harbhajan rebutted him on social media, tweeting, “When did that happen? Broke down? What for?”

In the controversial Sydney Test on India’s 2008 tour of Australia, Symonds had accused Harbhajan of racially abusing him by calling him a “monkey”. It earned the spinner a three-match ban, which was overturned on appeal after India threatened to pull out of the tour.

Opening up about the incident to his team-mates Adam Gilchrist and Brett Lee for a Fox Cricket documentary, Symonds described an emotional apology for the incident four years later when he and Harbhajan played together for Mumbai Indians in the IPL.

“We go to a very wealthy man’s place for a barbecue, drinks and dinner one night and the whole team’s there and he had guests there, and Harbhajan said, ‘Mate, can I speak to you for a minute out in the garden out the front?’” Symonds said.

“He goes, ‘Look, I’ve got to say sorry to you for what I did to you in Sydney. I apologise, I hope I didn’t cause you, your family, your friends too much harm and I really apologise for what I said, I shouldn’t have said it.’ And he actually broke down crying, and I could just see that was a huge weight off his shoulders, he had to get rid of it. We shook hands and I gave him a hug and said: ‘Mate, it’s all good. It’s dealt with.’”

Harbhajan, however, challenged this version of events with his tweet, accusing Symonds of “fiction”. Back in 2011, though, he had described the Australian as “a lovely guy” and insisted the two had no problems at all, that their ill will was in the past.

In the interview, Symonds said the incident had left him disillusioned with the game, and was the start of the end of his career. “I didn’t realise how powerful one player [could be], one incident, how much money was at stake and the ramifications,” he said. “I started drinking way too much and my cricket, my mindset – I started to go downhill, I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind. I went downhill pretty fast.”

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