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'I Felt Scared and Trapped': Harbhajan Singh Recalls Infamous Monkeygate Scandal

The Monkeygate scandal unfolded when India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh was charged with racially abusing Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds during the second Test at Sydney in 2008. The spinner was handed a three-match ban, which was later overturned on appeal. (AFP)

The Monkeygate scandal unfolded when India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh was charged with racially abusing Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds during the second Test at Sydney in 2008. The spinner was handed a three-match ban, which was later overturned on appeal. (AFP)

Harbhajan Singh said what happened during the infamous 'Monkeygate' incident from the 2008 Sydney Test against Australia left him feeling scared and trapped.

Veteran India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh said that what happened during the infamous ‘Monkeygate’ incident from the 2008 Sydney Test against Australia left him feeling scared and trapped.

The 39-year old said he felt like the superstar of the team but for the wrong reasons as the Australian media was constantly chasing him during that time.

The incident that transpired between Harbhajan and Andrew Symonds eventually led to a hearing, with the off-spinner being accused of using racist language towards the all-rounder.

“Me and Symonds were very close to each other. Only Sachin Tendulkar was close to me, he was five-six steps away and there was no one else close to us," Harbhajan said on Aakash Chopra’s Youtube show ‘Aakash Vani’.

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“But when the discussion started, Matthew Hayden, Adam Gilchrist, Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting, all these four said that they heard what Bhajji said to Symonds.

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“I said ‘I thought you guys were nowhere near the picture. If you watch the footage, you are nowhere’. Even Sachin Tendulkar, who was standing close to us, did not know what actually transpired between me and Symonds, only both of us knew what we actually talked about."

“But I was trapped. There was an enquiry and I was very scared as to what was happening with me. ‘Why always me, why I always get into trouble. l don’t want the attention and the cameras always following me’.

“Australian media made me Michael Jackson, I was constantly being chased by the cameras. I was made the superstar, like Sachin Tendulkar of the team.

“That was a tough phase. At the time, the team stood by me. Anil Kumble made a really good decision and he said that if he has not made a mistake, then we will stand by him.

“We were all together. I am very thankful to Anil bhai, to my teammates, and BCCI who fought for me, and for India."

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Harbhajan also had some remarks for former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting, saying that the batsman was playing umpire in that match by claiming catches then announcing the decision.

“When I talk about the 2008 Test against Australia in Sydney, I think in that match, Ricky Ponting was the umpire himself, he was claiming catches and then was pronouncing the verdict.

“A lot of things happened. The Australians always say what happens on the ground should stay on the ground, but the incident that happened between me and Symonds went beyond the ground."