Former Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds says the ‘monkeygate’ incident during the home series against India in 2008 triggered his downfall in international cricket and even led to bouts of “binge drinking”.
Symonds accused Harbhajan Singh of calling him a ‘monkey’ in the Sydney Test, a claim that the Indian spinner denied. The infamous incident led to Harbhajan being banned for three games but it was overturned after the Indian team threatened to pull out of the tour.
The 43-year-old recalled how the entire episode affected him.
“From that moment on that was my downhill slide. I started to drink heavily as a result of it and my life was starting to dissolve around me,” Symonds told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“I felt the pressure and the weight of dragging those mates of mine into the cauldron of this cesspit that should never have got to this sort of point where we felt guilty.
“I was dealing with it the wrong way. I felt guilty that I’d dragged my mates (teammates) into something I didn’t think they deserved to be involved in.”
Symonds happened to play his last game for Australia in May 2009 and a month later his Cricket Australia contract was withdrawn after he was sent home from the World T20 for “breaking a number of team rules related to alcohol and other issues”.
On the ‘monkeygate’ incident, Symonds remained firm on his claim that Harbhajan had abused him on multiple occasions.
“I’d spoken to Harbhajan the series before in India, he’d called me a monkey before in India.
“I went into their dressing room and said, ‘Can I speak to Harbhajan for a minute outside please?’ So he came outside and I said, ‘Look, the name-calling’s got to stop or else it’s going to get out of hand.'”