'Ponting acted like umpire', Harbhajan talks about controversial SCG Test
Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh opened up on the infamous 'Monkeygate' Test, which was marred by several umpiring errors. In a conversation with Aakash Chopra on YouTube, the 39-year-old slammed the former Australian skipper Ricky Ponting for appealing unnecessarily throughout the match. Harbhajan also talked about his controversial duel with batsman Andrew Symonds, that made headlines all during the tour. Here is more.
"When I talk about the Test, Ricky Ponting was the umpire himself, he was claiming catches and pronouncing the verdict. Australians say what happens on the ground should stay there, but the incident that happened between me and Symonds went beyond it," Harbhajan said.
After facing a crushing defeat to Australia in the Boxing Day Test, Team India arrived in Sydney with fresh hope. Rightly so, the visitors racked up 532 in the first innings in reply to Australia's 463. As the match progressed, the Indians were on the receiving end with on-field umpires Steve Bucknor and Mark Benson making some bizarre decisions.
Besides the umpiring errors, the Australians were seen making unreasonable appeals. In the second innings, former batsman Sourav Ganguly was caught by Michael Clarke in the slips. Notably, the replay clearly showed the ball hitting the ground before the latter caught it. However, Ponting seemed to have raised his finger before the umpire's final verdict. Later on, the entire Indian camp was in agony.
During the Test, Symonds and Harbhajan were involved in a heated debate. Symonds later claimed the Indian spinner threw a racist slur at him. Although Harbhajan was handed a three-match ban by referee Mike Procter, the charges were later reduced as the evidence was found inconclusive. At the post-match conference, then-captain Anil Kumble said, "Only one team was playing in the right spirit."
Harbhajan narrated the entire incident, stating he was wrongly accused. "I and Symonds were very close to each other, only Tendulkar was close to us, there was no one else close to us," he said. "When the hearing started, Matthew Hayden, Adam Gilchrist, Michael Clarke, and Ricky Ponting, all these four said that they heard what Harbhajan said to Symonds."
"Only both of us knew what we actually talked about. I was engulfed in a conspiracy, there was an enquiry and I was very scared. Australian media made me Michael Jackson, I was being constantly chased by cameras," Harbhajan concluded.