What’s the story?
Clarke who then was a close friend Andrew Symonds who pressed the charges of racial slur against Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh said that he had spoken to the all-rounder of not blowing things too much out of proportion.
“I was very close to Andrew at the time. 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. I had mentioned it to Symonds that if he didn’t feel really, really offended and if he felt he could overcome it, he shouldn’t escalate it further. However, Symmo and some of the other players had different views and it became what it became,” said Clarke at the sidelines of the launch of his book in Kolkata.
Watch: The infamous Sydney Test match, 2008
The former Australian captain also revealed that Symonds did not pay heed to the attention and went ahead with the charges which almost put the entire series in jeopardy as the Indian team threatened to walk out from the tour.
Eventually, Harbhajan was handed a one-match ban and Symonds believed that he did not receive any backing from either his teammates or his board and that the BCCI used its money and muscle power to weaken his case.
The entire discussion came up and both teams are at again and this time it is the captains of the respective sides are involved in an altercation after the entire DRS fiasco swept away all the attention in the past one week.
Back in 2008 during the New Year’s Test at Sydney controversy struck the match between India and Australia when after Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds claimed that he was racially attacked by Harbhajan Singh.
The match was already on the knife edge as the Indian team were the on the receiving end of a number of dubious umpiring decisions.
Australia went on to win the match in extremely controversial circumstances, but clearly, the Indian camp was seething. Captain Anil Kumble was memorably quoted as having said, “Only one team is playing in the spirit of the game”.
This revelation is quite surprising considering the entire Australian team was firmly behind Andrew Symonds.
Also, it is not surprising that Michael Clarke has gone on record about the incident as his relationship with Symonds is not entirely comfortable. It would hence be interesting to see how the Symonds responds to these claims.
There will be always two sides to any debate and nothing is in black and white. Hence, while the Indian team still maintains that Harbhajan did do no wrong, the version presented by the Australian side will be entirely different.
However, if things could be contained by dialogue it should always be the first mode of communication as anything which brings the game into disrepure should always be tackled astutely.