Tejas Rathi ∙ Jan 6 2023, 8:00 AM

#OTD in 2008: When 'Monkeygate' scandal rocked international cricket

image-lck7qogvHarbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds (Source: Twitter)

On this day, 15 years ago, Harbhajan Singh was charged with a Level III offence, which was eventually overturned due to his on-field altercation with Andrew Symonds. It all happened in the second Test fixture of India's Tour to Australia in 2008 at Sydney. 

Story behind infamous controversy

Australia batted first and posted a total of 463, with top contributions from Symonds (162*).  The Indian team were particularly infuriated with two incorrect calls by the on-field umpires, which led Australia to post a big score on the board. 

In reply, VVS Laxman (109) and Sachin Tendulkar stitched a 175-run stand to tire out the Aussie bowlers. Then, Sourav Ganguly (67) added another 108 runs for the third wicket, which further put India in a commanding position. However, Australia made a comeback by taking the wickets of Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni. 

At No. 9 arrived, Harbhajan, who was impressive with his positive approach to steer India along with Tendulkar. However, the temper flared when Harbhajan patted Lee on the back and called 'hard luck' after scoring a boundary against the pacer. Taking a note, Symonds started his sledging the spinner. 


Immediately, Harbhajan made his way to other end of the wicket and had a heated altercation with Symonds. The spinner was alleged to be calling the Australia all-rounder a ‘monkey’. 

After the day's play on January 4, match umpires Mark Benson and Steve Bucknor pressed racial charges on Harbhajan after the complaint of Australian team. On January 6, the match got concluded with Australian team winning the game by 122 runs. 

With the end of the fixture, a four-hour hearing was organized. After listening to all the players, Mike Procter, the match referee, made a remark that he is satisfied beyond the reason that Harbhajan sledged Symonds on the basis of race or ethnic origin. As a result, Harbhajan aced a three-test match ban. 

However, the Indian team management appealed against the ruling at  Adelaide’s Federal Court. Eventually, the commissioner Justice John Hansen found Harbhajan ‘not guilty' of a racial abuse against Symonds, and instead faced a 50% match fee fine. 

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