Former South African all-rounder and the ICC match referee, Mike Procter has questioned former Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar’s role in the infamous Monkeygate controversy in his recently-released autobiography ‘Caught in the Middle’ .During the Sydney Test between India and Australia in January 2008, Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds accused Indian cricket team spinner Harbhajan Singh of calling him monkey.
Harbhajan had brushed aside the allegations back then, but later he got suspended for three matches for calling Andrew Symonds a ‘monkey’ supposedly a racist remark. The punishment of suspension from three matches was imposed on Bhajji after a hearing where Sachin Tendulkar initially said he could not make out anything but in later hearing said he heard ‘teri ma ki’ from Harbhajan’s lips.
“It was very disappointing. If he had said that (him hearing Harbhajan say ‘teri ma ki’ and not monkey) upfront, it would have been a whole different version. If Sachin had said that he had heard this, it was to be one person’s word against the other. It was going to create doubt and so he (Harbhajan) would not be (held) guilty on racism charges”, said Mike Procter.
During the hearing, Harbhajan had claimed that he had limited knowledge of English language, to which Procter didn’t agree. “Harbhajan speaks English as good as I do. So he (Queen’s Counsel Nigel Peters, the ICC-appointed legal help at the hearing) said that they can have an interpreter, but he refused. Harbhajan didn’t offer anything… it was surprising that he did not argue.”
Procter also writes that weak argument of Indian team manager, Chetan Chauhan pushed spinner toward suspension.