(Photo Courtesy: PressFrom)
Former Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds has revealed that the infamous “Monkeygate” scandal with India a decade ago drove him to drink as he opened up Friday on how his life started falling out of his control.
The big-hitting Australian accused spinner Harbhajan Singh of calling him a “monkey” in the 2008 New Year Test in Sydney. The test match which was marred by poor umpiring decisions, saw the hosts clinch the game on the final day.
Harbhajan, who denied any wrongdoing, was suspended for three matches, but the ban was overturned when India threatened to quit the tour in what was a low point in India-Australia cricket relations.
Symonds, who felt that he was let down by a lack of support from Cricket Australia, after Harbhajan having called him “monkey” two to three times started drinking following the incident.
“From that moment on that was my downhill slide,” he said. He said his guilt over the way the process played out took a heavy toll after his teammates were “dragged in” to back up his account of being racially abused.
“I started to drink heavily as a result of it and my life was starting to dissolve around me. I felt the pressure and the weight of dragging those mates of mine into the cauldron of this cesspit that should never have got to this sort of point where we felt guilty. I was dealing with it the wrong way. I felt guilty that I’d dragged my mates into something I didn’t think they deserved to be involved in.”
Symonds’ Cricket Australia contract was withdrawn in June 2009 after he was sent home from the World Twenty20 following the latest in a series of alcohol-related indiscretions.
He claimed at the time he had been diagnosed as a binge-drinker, not an alcoholic.
Symonds claimed Friday it was the not the first time Harbhajan had abused him.
“I’d spoken to Harbhajan the series before in India, he’d called me a monkey before in India. I went into their dressing room and said, ‘Can I speak to Harbhajan for a minute outside please?’ So he came outside and I said, ‘Look, the name-calling’s got to stop or else it’s going to get out of hand.'”
Despite the animosity the pair eventually made up and played together in the Indian Premier League.