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Clarke: Symonds took the 'Monkeygate' saga too far

Sporting News logo Sporting News 15/03/2017
Harbhajan SIngh and Andrew Symonds. © Sporting News Harbhajan SIngh and Andrew Symonds.

It was one of the most controversial incidents in the long history of the Australia-India rivalry, but Michael Clarke believes it could have been avoided.

In the 2007-8 Test series, Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh was accused of calling Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds a monkey.

Singh was charged for making a racial comment, but it was later reduced to using abusive language and he was fined 50 per cent of his match fee rather than a ban.

Former Australian captain Michael Clarke was part of the team at the time and believes Symonds dealt with the situation the wrong way.

“I was very close to Andrew (Symonds) at the time,” he said.

“I asked him if he was racially vilified. It wasn’t about being racially abused for Andrew but a lot of other things.

“Now it’s not the right time to discuss those things. But I didn’t think he (Symonds) should have continued with that (incident). It should have ended right there.”

Former Australian Captain Michael Clarke has made another post-retirement revelation. © Ryan Pierse - CA/Cricket Australia/Getty Images Former Australian Captain Michael Clarke has made another post-retirement revelation. Clarke's commentary partner and Indian icon Sourav Ganguly doesn't believe Clarke's book will tell the true story.

“I can guarantee you, the ‘Monkeygate’ chapter will not have its true picture in the book,” Ganguly said.

“Because only a ‘Sardarji’ (leader) will know what Harbhajan tried to say.

“I was standing next to Harbhajan Singh and I know exactly what he meant.”

Clarke painted a picture of the scenario in his autobiography ''My Story''.

“There was no great principle of racism at stake,” Clarke wrote. “I was never sure that Symmo felt deeply offended by what Harbhajan said, and he said as much in his autobiography.

“If he had been offended? Different story. But he wasn’t so he was pursuing it for different reasons than the racial abuse law was set up for.

“After the first hearing, I go to Symmo and say, ‘Mate, you haven’t been offended by this at all. This doesn’t bother you.’

“He says, ‘But I’m sick and tired of them getting away with it. We never get away with anything, but they do.’

“When it comes to suffering from racism in historic terms, we’re not going to be able to grab the high ground from India. So it would have been best to cop it and move on, rather than stage a fight we were never going to win.”

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