Former Australian captain Michael Clarke on Tuesday lauded BCCI and Cricket Australia for their handling of the recent DRS controversy involving Steve Smith but felt the infamous 'Monkeygate' episode of 2007-08 series dragged on far too long.
BCCI and CA reached truce last Thursday with the former withdrawing the complaint it filed with the ICC against the Australia skipper for seeking dressing room advice on DRS in the second Test against India.
Speaking about the 'Monkeygate' episode involving Andrew Symonds and Harbhajan Singh vis-a-vis the latest dispute, Clarke said:
I’d be very honest about where I saw the situation at SCG at that time. I was very close to Andrew Symonds. I asked him whether he was racially vilified. It was not only about the racial vilification of Andrew. It should have ended right there, continuing with the spirit of the game.
While interacting with Sourav Ganguly and cricket historian Boria Majumdar at the India book launch of his autobiography 'My Story', Clarke said:
They have handled the Steve Smith incident really well. We know we are in for great Test series. We focus on the next match. (It) does not matter how hard you are on the field or who you play against, you should hold highest respect for each other.
Ganguly quipped that the 'Monkeygate' was a bit more than what the world saw.
Sourav Ganguly, Former Indian Captain I can guarantee you the Monkeygate will not have its true picture in the book. Because only a sardarji would know what another sardar was saying. You may call it Monkeygate, Hanumangate or whatever gate. I was standing next to Harbhajan Singh when he was saying those words. I know exactly what he meant. Nevertheless, the incident was a bit more than just the word Monkeygate.
Charged with racial abuse, Harbhajan was initially handed a three-match ban which was later reduced, even as both the boards got locked in a fierce courtroom battle in the aftermath of India's 122-run defeat in the Sydney Test.
Clarke said he too has made mistakes in his career but would never cheat.
Michael Clarke, Former Australian CaptainIn the same series (2007-8), when I was batting I edged a Kumble wrong’un at the slip. But I didn’t walk blatantly. I should have walked. That was one of the mistakes I made. I didn’t want to go and was so disappointed. I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my career. But I always believe I played the game with right spirit, with utmost importance to represent my country, my franchise. I would never try and cheat. I don’t think it’s fair to look back on one, two, three individual incidents in my career but I have played the sport with utmost dignity and held respect for my country.
I Still Have Hughes' Phone Number Saved on my Mobile: Clarke
It's been more than two years since Australia cricketer Phillip Hughes breathed his last, but former captain Michael Clarke still has his phone number saved on his mobile.
Hughes was killed after being hit in the neck by a bouncer during a Sheffield Shield match at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 2014.
Michael Clarke It’s still very emotional for me to talk about. The incident is one of the reasons for me to write the book. To get through that period, I spent that time writing it to show his family and the world how I feel. I feel it a big part of my responsibility to be Australian cricket captain and lead from the front for my teammate. It took me longer to accept he is not there. I still have his mobile phone number in my phone. It’s still very hard for me to fathom that he is no longer with us.
Clarke remembered current India skipper Virat Kohli's gesture of attending Hughes' funeral in his hometown of Macksville. Kohli had attended the event accompanied by then team manager Ravi Shastri and then coach Duncan Fletcher.
The first of the four Tests of the series between India and Australia in 2014 was also postponed from 4 December to 9 December in Adelaide.
Michael Clarke The way (Virat) handled that situation, he came for the funeral and had some of the Indian players too. I have utmost respect for him because of that. This is clearly above the game of cricket and they didn’t need to postpone the game. They could not have turned up for the funeral. They didn’t have to do anything that they did. I will always remember that.
Clarke donated his World Cup winning jersey to the Boria Majumdar Fanattic Sports Museum and Ganguly said it was not a happy feeling.
"It was not the best shirt I was holding. I know it's a terrific reward as a cricketer, captain and the youngsters of Australia. But this is the same jersey that thrashed us in 2003 and 2015 World Cups (finals and semifinals respectively)," Ganguly said.