Symonds vs Bhajji, Pollard vs Starc: Ugliest fights in sports history

Updated: Jan 06, 2019, 15:02 IST | mid-day online correspondent |

Cricket has always been known as a gentleman's game. But on January 6, 2008, Andrew Symonds and Harbhajan Singh were involved in a racially charged spat during the Sydney Test, between India and Australia

Kieron Pollard throwing his bat on Mitchell Starc
Kieron Pollard throwing his bat on Mitchell Starc

Cricket has always been known as a gentleman’s game. On January 6, 2008, Andrew Symonds and Harbhajan Singh were involved in a racially charged spat during the Sydney Test, between India and Australia. We take a look at some of the instances where thing heated up between sports persons on-field.


The infamous 'Monkeygate' continues to haunt those who featured in that controversial Test at Syndey in 2008. Harbhajan was accused of calling Symonds a monkey during the Test and was suspended for three Tests. But he was cleared in an appeal hearing, conducted by Justice John Hansen from New Zealand, in which Tendulkar appeared as a witness and gave a statement in favour of the Indian.

ishant kamran

Ishant Sharma vs Kamran Akmal:
A usually calm Ishant Sharma lost his cool when he got into a nasty war of words with Pakistan keeper-batsman Kamran Akmal during the Indo-Pak T20 clash in Bangalore in December 2012. As they hurled abuses at each other in the middle of the pitch, the umpires and few teammates had to try and separate the two

sree bhajji

Sreesanth vs Harbhajan Singh:
Now infamously referred to as 'slapgate' the Indian off-spinner allegedly slapped the erratic Sreesanth after an Indian Premier League season one match between Mumbai Indians and Kings XI Punjab at Mohali in April 2008. Sreesanth was seen sobbing like a child post the slap while Harbhajan went on to be banned for 11 IPL matches.

pollard starc

Kieron Pollard vs Mitchell Starc:
An extremely unpleasant incident took place between the two players during an IPL match between RCB and MI at the Wankhede Stadium in May 2014. During an over, Starc continued with his delivery stride despite Pollard pulling out. As the Aussie fired the ball at the West Indian, the batsman advanced menacingly towards Starc and flung his willow at the bowler but, luckily, it slipped out of the Trinidadian's hand and dropped near him. In the previous ball, after bowling a bouncer that sailed over Pollard's head, Starc mouthed something, which the big-built West Indian simply brushed away with a wave of his hand

Javed Miandad and Dennis Lillee:

Javed Miandad vs Dennis Lillee:
Both high profile players got physical when Miandad and Mansoor Akhtar were trying to do a repair job after Pakistan were reduced to 27 for 2 during the Perth Test in 1981. According to Cricinfo, "Miandad turned Lillee behind square for a single, and in completing an easy run, he collided with the bowler. Eyewitnesses agreed that Lillee was to blame and most observed that he had deliberately moved into the batsman's path. The two players' versions of events differ. Miandad claimed that Lillee blocked him and "pushed him out of the way"; Lillee's version of events has Miandad subjecting him to abuse as he approached and Lillee replying in kind -- no mention of any contact. PIC COURTESY/PBL MARKETING

warne samuels

Shane Warne and Marlon Samuels:
The Australian star and West Indian batsman were involved in a foul-mouthed clash during the domestic Big Bash tournament in January 2013. Warne, captaining the Melbourne Stars against city rivals Renegades in the domestic Big Bash tournament, was furious that Samuels had pulled back David Hussey when the batsman was turning for a second run. And when it was Samuel's turn to bat later in the game, Warne confronted the West Indian with the words "f**k you, Marlon."In the next over, Warne, in the field, threw the ball at the Jamaican's chest while Samuels reacted by tossing his bat down the pitch towards the Australian. The two players squared up and had to be separated by the umpires.

suarez chiellini

Luis Suarez and Giorgio Chiellini:
During the FIFA 2014 World Cup, Uruguayan striker Suarez bit Italian defender Chiellini during their group stage match. Uruguay went on to win the game and secure a spot in the next round. In 2013, Suarez received a 10-match ban after he bit Chelsea player Branislav Ivanovic during their EPL clash. (Pic/ AFP)

zidane matte

Zinedine Zidane and Marco Materazzi:
Marco Materazzi will always be known for the infamous 'Zidane headbutt' incident during the 2006 FIFA World Cup final. During extra-time with the scores levelled 1-1, football legend Zidane aggressively headbutted Marco Materazzi following the latter's provocation and shirt-tugging. Playing in his final international match, Zidane was sent off by the referee and Italy went on to win the World Cup. (Pic/ AFP)

mike tyson bite

Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield:
Unarguably one of the most unforgettable moments in sports history was when boxing star Mike Tyson bit World heavyweight champion Holyfield twice during the title rematch in 1997. Tyson was later disqualified and the incident scarred his career for life. (Pic/ AFP)

shoaib malik tino

Shoaib Malik and Tino Best:
Aggressive West Indies pacer Tino Best and former Pakistan batsman Shoaib Malik were recently involved in an ugly altercation with the two of them coming to blows at the Kensington Oval in a T20 match during a Caribbean Premier League. Indian tennis star Sania Mirza jumped to her husband Shoaib's defence and also tweeted that she had wished Shoaib had hit Tino. Reports also emerged that the two players were involved in another incident at the team hotel. (Pic/ AFP)


Voller vs Rijkaard:
One of the most famous football spats occurred during a match between Holland and Germany during the second round of the FIFA 1990 World Cup. Following a fierce tackle Holland's Rijkaard spat on Germany's Voller and was booked for the same. Later on, when a yellow-carded-Voller went in on the goalie, Rijkaard took him on again and the two were sent off. Knowing the worst is done with; Rijkaard took another shot and repeated the act again by spitting on Voller. (Pic/ AFP)

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