Former India spinner Harbhajan Singh has detailed how he and former Australia cricketer Andrew Symonds reconciled during the infamous Monkeygate affair during India’s 2007-08 tour of Australia.
Harbhajan and Symonds were at the centre of a squabble during the 2007/08 Border-Gavaskar series when Symonds accused Harbhajan of calling him a “monkey” during the Sydney Test match.
On the final day of the Test, then-Australia captain Ricky Ponting protested to umpires Steve Bucknor and Mark Benson that Harbhajan had insulted Symonds racially, calling him a “Monkey.”
Harbhajan Singh recalls when he and Symonds apologized to each other
Harbhajan Singh has confessed that he and former Australia all-rounder Andrew Symonds believed that their problems, which peaked during the infamous ‘Monkeygate’ scandal in 2008, should have been resolved in a more peaceful manner. In the fractious 2007/08 Test series, Harbhajan and Symonds were at the heart of the row, and the pair went on to play in the same dressing room for the Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Symonds had accused Harbhajan of using a racial epithet against him, which the former India spinner rejected. Both players have now spoken about how they have reconciled and showed mutual respect for one another.
“I remembered an incident when we were in Chandigarh. After playing a match that we won, we went to my friend’s place. There, we hugged for the first time and apologized to each other. We felt that the issue could have been sorted out in a more amicable manner. Both of us felt sorry. A lot of my friends from Mumbai Indians clicked pictures of that moment,” Harbhajan said.
“When Mumbai picked him, the first thought that came to my mind was – ‘why did they pick him? How will we (me and Symonds) get along together?’ When he entered the MI dressing room, Andrew was a different man altogether. I thought he was some angry person and I feel he would have thought the same about me,” he added.
Harbhajan Singh announced his retirement from cricket in December 2021.