Cricket Australia’s $60 million Symonds snub

Andrew Symonds called it the moment he realized the full extent of politics and money in cricket, while former captain Ricky Ponting said it was the beginning of the end for the talented all-rounder.

Monkeygate. Even 14 years later it’s still a term that raises the ire of Australian cricket fans, when the touring Indian team threatened to abandon a series following a heated and ultimately ugly Test match at the SCG.

The flashpoint came during India’s first innings, when Harbhajan Singh and Sachin Tendulkar combined for a 129 run partnership.

READ MORE: Gus drops hint as Bulldogs’ coach hunt begins

READ MORE: Jack Nicklaus’ starting $143m rebel league admission

READ MORE: The $1.8m ‘poison’ that ruined Symonds-Clarke relationship

The Australians claimed Harbhajan called Symonds a “monkey”, a slur he was also accused of making during an ODI prior to the scandal. Harbhajan insists he used the Hindi slur ‘teri maa ki’.

The spinner was subsequently banned for three matches, a penalty that saw the touring Indians threaten to fly home.

Writing in The Sydney Morning Herald, leading columnist Peter Roebuck called for Ponting to be sacked as captain, while Cricket Australia went into damage control as the BCCI issued an inflammatory statement, which said in part: “The Indian Board does not accept the findings of the match referee and has decided to challenge the unfair decision to suspend Harbhajan Singh as it deems it patently unfair.

“The board will fight the blatantly false and unfair slur on an Indian player.”

The decision was made to delay the appeal hearing until after the conclusion of the Test series, but in his book Whitewash to Whitewashwhich examined the period from 2006-07 to 2013-14, Daniel Brettig wrote that Cricket Australia’s main focus was the touring Indians, rather than its own players.

Symonds’ brilliant run-out

“(Cricket Australia) were primarily concerned about saving the tour,” he wrote.

“For them, the word of Symonds and the other players was a secondary concern next to the prospect of CA and the states losing $60 million in revenue, which would be sought by broadcasters if India’s squad flew home and their rights contracts were breached.

“The board’s wish was for the Harbhajan charge to be downgraded from the level-three racial charge to a less serious level-two transgression for abusive language. Little thought was given to the welfare of the players, whom numerous board members considered precious and overpaid .”

At the appeal, Harbhajan had his penalty downgraded to a fine, leaving the Australian players furious at the thought that CA folded at the hands of the the powerful BCCI.

Tubby remembers ‘entertainer’ Andrew Symonds

“I suppose this would be the moment where my whole persona to cricket changed. I didn’t realize the politics, the power, the money until this moment in my career,” Symonds told Fox Cricket in 2018.

“I didn’t realize how powerful one player, one incident, how much money was at stake and the ramifications.”

“I went downhill pretty fast after this because I felt responsible for four of my mates, close mates, that I dragged into this whole situation and it beared very heavily on me,” 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.”

Symonds was the player of the match in that SCG Test, having made 162 not out and 61, and also taking three wickets in the final innings. Yet his slide was so quick that the following year he played the last of his 238 international matches.

“The worst of it all was the impact it had on Symmo. I had tried to protect him from most of what was going on in the lead-up to the hearing, but when it was done I reckon it took the wind out of his sails,” Ponting wrote in his autobiography, At the Close of Play.

“He had never been one to seek the limelight; he loved his sport and was brilliant at it but the attention that came with it never sat well with him.

“In a lot of ways Symmo was gone from this moment on and it still makes me angry.”

Ponting’s successor, Michael Clarke, also felt that the whole affair took its toll on the all-rounder.

“He (Symonds) was the main victim of Monkeygate, he was the guy, even more than Punter, who felt he was hung out to dry by Cricket Australia,” Clarke wrote in his autobiography, My Story.

Symonds and Harbhajan subsequently became teammates for the Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League. Speaking after Symonds’ death on Sunday, the off-spinner said the pair had buried the hatchet, eventually becoming the unlikeliest of friends.

“I was so shocked when I … saw my phone and I was shattered with this news that Andrew is no more. I still can’t believe Andrew is no more because he’s such a strong guy and whatever has happened is a very sad thing. My condolences to his family and friends and it’s a loss for all of us,” he told Star Sports.

“Wherever you are mate, we want you to rest in peace and you would be missed.

“Obviously we’ve had a lot of history. Thanks to IPL and Mumbai Indians for putting both of us together in one dressing room. And once I got to know such a lovely human being we became very good friends,” Harbhajan said.

“We used to sit together, have a drink, laugh. He used to share a lot of stories. He was someone who I could call at 2.30 in the morning and say, ‘Hey mate, what are you doing, what are you up to, let’s meet’ and he would be up for it.”

For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!

#Cricket #Australias #million #Symonds #snub

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.