Mumbai, Indian cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar, who found himself getting unwittingly involved in the ‘Monkeygate affair’ when it unfolded during the second Test at Sydney in 2008, termed former Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds — who died in a car crash in Queensland on Saturday — as a “live-wire” on the cricket field.
“Andrew Symond’s demise is shocking news for all of us to absorb. Not only was he a brilliant all-rounder, but also a live-wire on the field. I have fond memories of the time we spent together in Mumbai Indians. May his soul rest in peace, condolences to his family and friends,” Tendulkar tweeted on Sunday morning.
Symonds, 46, was the sole passenger in the crash just outside of Townsville in his home state of Queensland and police confirmed that a 46-year-old died at the scene of the mishap.
During the infamous Sydney Test in January 2008, which Australia won by 122 runs, Tendulkar was at the non-striker’s end when the altercation between India spinner Harbhajan Singh and Symonds took place, which later came to be called ‘Monkeygate affair’.
Symonds accused Harbhajan of calling him a ‘monkey’, which triggering a war of words between the two sides. In fact, India even threatened to cancel the tour and return home after the spinner was initially suspended for three Tests.
Initially, Tendulkar denied hearing anything, but the legendary cricketer later insisted that Harbhajan had actually said a Hindi slang which was a long way from being a racist remark.
The then Australian skipper Ricky Ponting complained to match referee Mike Procter about the India spinner calling Symonds a ‘monkey’. Ponting then pressed charges against Harbhajan despite the then India skipper Anil Kumble’s request to apologise.
Harbhajan was then slapped with a three-Test ban, which brought the two powerful cricket boards on confrontation path — and leaving the series in jeopardy.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) appointed New Zealand High Court judge John Hansen to hear Harbhajan’s ban appeal after the Test series. The tour continued and Hansen later trusted Tendulkar’s testimony to conclude lack of evidence to press racism charges against Harbhajan.