Kolkata, March 14:
Prime witnesses to one of the biggest controversies that rocked cricket during the second Test between India and Australia during the 2007-08 series, Sourav Ganguly and Michael Clarke on Tuesday made no bones while speaking about the ‘Monkeygate’ scandal with the latter going to say that Andrew Symonds should not have blown the issue out of proportion.
The furore had begun with some questionable umpiring decisions and later blew up into a racism controversy between Harbhajan Singh and Symonds which threatened to negatively affect relations between the two countries.
Australian batsman Symonds was at the centre of it all, but the drama started much earlier, when he was questionably given not out thrice during his first innings score of 162.
Australia went on to win the Test by 122 runs, but the incident did not die down and is now considered one of the biggest face-offs since the bodyline days.
“I can guarantee you, the ‘Monkeygate’ chapter will not have its true picture in the book,” Ganguly said talking about Clarke’s autobiography “My Story” which he launched here on Tuesday.
“Because only a ‘Sardarji’ will know what Harbhajan tried to say. You can call it ‘Monkeygate’, you can call it ‘Hanumangate’ and whatever gate you want. I was standing next to Harbhajan Singh and I know exactly what he meant,” Ganguly, who said.
“Nonetheless, that incident was a bit more than ‘Monkeygate’. The next morning, everyone was angry and there were calls going on in the board. It was a wonderful series. Beating Australia in Perth… India-Australia is always enthralling,” Ganguly, who scored a 67 and 51 in the two innings of that Test played at the Sydney Cricket Ground, said.
On that Clarke compared the recent DRS controversy involving Australian skipper Steve Smith and how it was amicably solved to the ‘Monkeygate’ chapter, stressing that Symonds went into overdrive with his reactions.
“I was very close to Andrew (Symonds) at the time. I asked him if he was racially vilified. It wasn’t about being racially abused for Andrew but a lot of other things.
“Now it’s not the right time to discuss those things. But I didn’t think he (Symonds) should have continued with that (incident). It should have ended right there,” Clarke said.
“What’s happening here with the Steve Smith incident here. It’s been handled in the right way. And the BCCI have handled it pretty well. Now we head to Ranchi and we know we are going to have a very good Test match.”
India and Australia are locked 1-1 in the four-match series. The third Test starts in Ranchi from Thursday.
Talking about the same Sydney Test, Clarke admitted to walking back to the pavilion after an Anil Kumble delivery struck his gloves and went to first slip.
“There was also a decision (in the same Test) when Anil bowled and the ball hit my glove and I was out. But I did not walk,” he said.
“I did not want to go. I did not want to fail. I believe the umpire has a job to give me out. I made plenty of mistakes in my career but I have played in the right spirit. Over a long period of time, I can hold my head high.”