'Monkeygate' 2.0: Symonds says Harbhajan broke down in apology, spinner tweets denial

A decade on from the 'monkeygate' controversy in the 2008 Sydney Test, Andrew Symonds says Harbhajan Singh 'broke down' in apology and they called truce. Harbhajan tweets, 'when did that happen?'

Harbhajan Singh (left) and Andrew Symonds were team-mates at the Indian Premier League club Mumbai Indians.   -  Vivek Bendre

The decade-old 'Monkeygate' controversy reared its head again on Sunday as Andrew Symonds said he got a tearful apology from Harbhajan Singh, but the spinner suggested nothing of that sort happened.

According to Symonds, Harbhajan “broke down crying” while making peace after the infamous ‘Monkeygate’ episode had sent the former Australian allrounder into a downward spiral.

The so-called 'Monkeygate' marred the 2008 Sydney Test between India and Australia, where Harbhajan was accused of calling Symonds a “monkey.” The Australian said they emotionally called a truce three years later. The pair buried the hatchet while turning up for Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League.

 

“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’,” Symonds told Fox Sports.

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Harbhajan, who at time denied any wrongdoing, was suspended for three matches. But the ban was overturned after the visiting team, feeling hard done-by, lodged a protest in what was an all-time low in India-Australia cricket relations. Reliving, Symonds said, “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’.

“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.’”

‘Persona to cricket changed’

Symonds, who was born in England with one of his parents of West Indian background, has previously recounted how his life went downhill after the incident. The burly all-rounder, who felt let down by the system, started drinking heavily and in June 2009 his Cricket Australia contract was withdrawn after he was sent home from the World T20 following the latest in a series of alcohol-related indiscretions.

“I suppose this would be the moment where my whole persona to cricket changed,” Symonds, who is commentating on India’s current tour of Australia, said of ‘monkeygate’.

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

The 'Monkeygate' controversy has resurfaced when India is on a tour of Australia. India is 1-0 up in the Test series, and both teams are locked in a fierce contest in the second Test in Perth