Australian media digs up Monkeygate to tarnish Tendulkar's image

Jan 02, 2012, 18:26 IST | Agencies

The Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) is Sachin Tendulkar's favourite venue, looking at his staggering average here of 221, and there can't be a more perfect stage for him to hit his 100th hundred than the 100th Test here, starting Tuesday.

The SCG was the centre of a major controversy in 2008 in the last Test between the two sides, which notoriously come to be known as Monkeygate, and Australian media has dug it up to tarnish Tendulkar's image by linking him to it just when he is looking to get to his greatest milestone here.

The two principal actors of the 2008 Monkeygate -- Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh and Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds -- are not playing in the series, but Tendulkar's role in the incident is being dissected. The batting maestro was a key witness for Harbahajan when his appeal against the three-match ban on charges of racial abuse led to the downgrading of the punishment from a three-match ban to a fine of 50 percent of his match fees.

Several Australian players testified against Harbhajan, but Tendulkar's deposition is believed to have saved him as the two were at the crease when Harbhajan allegedly called Symonds a monkey. Three years later, Symonds went on to share the dressing room with Harbhajan as teammates of Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

The Daily Telegraph reported that at least one Australian lost respect for Tendulkar since he felt he gave completely different accounts of the incident.

In his autobiography True Colours, Adam Gilchrist, who retired at the end of that 2007-08 season, was furious and described Tendulkar's deposition as a "joke".

"Tendulkar, who'd said at the first hearing that he hadn't been able to hear what Harbhajan had said - and he was a fair way away, up the other end, so I'm certain he was telling the truth - now supported Harbhajan's version that he hadn't called Symo a 'monkey' but instead a Hindi term of abuse that might sound like 'monkey' to Australian ears," Gilchrist wrote.

"The Indians got him off the hook when they, of all people, should have been treating the matter of racial vilification with the utmost seriousness."

Mike Hussey is confident that such a furore will not erupt again.

"That was a long time ago and obviously the personnel in the teams have changed quite a lot, particularly in our team, maybe not so much in the Indian team," Hussey said at the SCG.

"I think that's gone, that's in the past. The players that were involved in all the controversy have moved on. I think it's well in the past and certainly not been spoken about in our dressing room at all," he said.

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