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Ponting questioned Tendulkar’s role in the scandal
Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has evoked memories of the infamous ‘Monkeygate’ scandal after revealing that he was sceptical about the role India batsman Sachin Tendulkar played in his forthcoming autobiography, At The Close Of Play.
The ‘Monkeygate’ scandal occurred during a Test match between India and Australia in Sydney in 2008, where Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh was accused of calling Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds a monkey.
As a result of his comments, Singh was initially banned for three Test matches, but the ruling was overturned by Justice John Hansen in an appeal hearing.
Ponting noted that he could not quite understand why Tendulkar had vouched for Singh during the appeal hearing, despite failing to say anything to match referee Mike Proctor.
“I couldn’t understand why Sachin didn’t tell this to (match referee) Mike Procter in the first place,” Ponting wrote.
Ponting added that he was shell-shocked Singh had escaped with nothing more than a measly fine as the scandal had threatened to hurt ties between the two nations.
“Owing to an administrative error, the judge was never told about any of Harbhajan’s past offences, which meant the penalty was way less than what it should have been,” Ponting said. “As I pondered this result over the weeks and months that followed, I started to think that I needed to be more savvy about the off-field politics.
“Maybe the Indian cricket juggernaut of the 21st century is too influential to shake. But then I thought about the way a number of people in the game had questioned our motives; how they thought we were just seeking an advantage rather than acting on principle.”
The former Australian skipper was also infuriated with then India captain Anil Kumble’s comments about “Australia playing outside the spirit of the game”.
“I felt that there was a lot of hypocrisy about the ‘Monkeygate’ scandal…Mike Procter heard all the evidence and found Harbhajan guilty,” Ponting wrote. “The next day, the Indians responded by threatening to go home.
“Because (captain Anil) Kumble’s uncontested line about ‘Australia playing outside the spirit of the game’ received so much attention, quickly the belief spread that it was us, not Procter’s judgement, that provoked the trouble.”