The ghost of ‘Monkeygate’ has risen again with former Australian captain Ricky Ponting questioning Sachin Tendulkar’s role in the scandal,claiming that he was taken aback by the senior Indian batsman’s statement which saved Harbhajan Singh. In his memoirs titled ‘The Close of Play’ Ponting said he didn’t understand why Tendulkar vouched for Harbhajan during the appeal hearing but did not say anything when match referee Mike Procter initially suspended the spinner for passing allegedly racial comments at all-rounder Andrew Symonds.
I couldn’t understand why Sachin didn’t tell this to (match referee) Mike Procter in the first place, Ponting wrote on the role of Tendulkar,who would retire from the game after his 200th Test next month. Harbhajan was accused of calling Symonds a monkey during the 2008 Sydney Test and was suspended for three Tests. But he was cleared in an appeal hearing,conducted by Justice John Hansen from New Zealand,in which Tendulkar appeared as a witness and gave a statement in favour of the Indian.
Ponting,in his recollection of the drama that unfolded,said he found it absurd when Harbhajan was merely fined after the incident which threatened to hurt the relations between the two countries. 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.