Cricket legends from around the world have been condoling the tragic death of former Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds, who died in a car accident at the age of 46. Also among them is former India bowler Harbhajan Singh, who was once accused of hurling racial slur on Symonds during India’s series against Australia.
Reacting to Symonds’ death, Harbhajan tweeted, “Shocked to hear about the sudden demise of Andrew Symonds. Gone too soon. Heartfelt condolences to the family and friends. Prayers for the departed soul.”
Shocked to hear about the sudden demise of Andrew Symonds. Gone too soon. Heartfelt condolences to the family and friends. Prayers for the departed soul ?#RIPSymonds
— Harbhajan Turbanator (@harbhajan_singh) May 15, 2022
The ‘Monkeygate’ controversy had threatened India’s tour of Australia in 2008 after Harbhajan was accused of addressing Symonds as ‘monkey.’ This had prompted Australia to formally file a complaint with the umpires, who then reprimanded the Indian off-spinner. The development soon snowballed into a huge controversy and almost threatened the entire series. Harbhajan was given a one-Test bacn after a full-fledged courtroom-like hearing.
Harbhajan maintained that he had told Symonds ‘Teri maa ki’ (Your mother’s…), which is a Hindi exletive but this was misunderstood as ‘monkey.’
Speaking to journalist Boria Majumdar this year, Harbhajan had opened up about the controversy as he said, “Obviously I was disturbed, I couldn’t understand why it was happening. Why was there so much of… for something that hadn’t happened. They had six or seven witnesses for something that I had not said. No one had heard it and yet it was blown out of proportion.”
Sachin Tendulkar, who had defended Harbhajan and testified in his favour, later recalled the incident in his autobiography ‘Playing It My Way.’
“I want to state very clearly that the incident arose because Andrew Symonds had been continually trying to provoke Bhajji and it was inevitable that the two would have an altercation at some point. While walking up to Bhajji to try to calm things down, I heard him say ‘Teri maa ki’ (Your mother…) to Symonds. It is an expression we often use in north India to vent our anger and to me it was all part of the game,” Tendulkar wrote in his book.