Harbhajan Singh has described Andrew Symonds’ claim that he “broke down crying" when the pair finally made up three years after the infamous “monkeygate" scandal in 2008 as “fiction.” Ten years since the ugly incident took place in the course of a Test match at Sydney, Symonds claimed in a documentary to be aired on Fox Sports that Harbhajan had “apologised” to him for the incident and shed tears when they were reunited as teammates with the Mumbai Indians during the IPL.
However, in a riposte on Twitter, Harbhajan dismissed the claim outright. In his first Tweet, Harbhajan expressed total surprise at the claim.
WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN ??? BROKE DOWN ???? WHAT FOR ??? Harbhajan broke down when apologising for 'monkeygate' - Symondshttps://t.co/eQFeETVChy— Harbhajan Turbanator (@harbhajan_singh) December 16, 2018
And, in a follow up tweet, posted a few hours later, Harbhajan went further, accusing Symonds of “selling a story” – both when he made the accusation in 2008 and his claim now of Harbhajan’s remorse over the incident.
I thought he was a very good cricketer but Symonds has turned out to be a good fiction writer - he sold a story then (2008) and he is ‘selling a story’ now (2018). Mate, the world has come of age in these 10 years and it’s time you also grew up— Harbhajan Turbanator (@harbhajan_singh) December 16, 2018
According to Symonds’ version of events, Harbhajan approached Symonds at a social event during the IPL.
“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’," Symonds said.
“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’.
“And 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’."
Harbhajan, who at time denied any wrongdoing, was charged with racial abuse and suspended for three matches. But the ban was overturned when India threatened to quit the tour in what was an all-time low in India-Australia cricket relations.
It left Symonds feeling let down by the system while the need for teammates and close friends Matthew Hayden, Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke to step up as witnesses weighed on his conscience.
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.
He started drinking heavily and in June 2009 his Cricket Australia contract was withdrawn after he was sent home from the World Twenty20 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."