Sydney - Former all-rounder Andrew Symonds says the infamous
"monkeygate" scandal with India a decade ago drove him to drink as he
opened up Friday on how his life started spiralling out of control.
The big-hitting Australian accused spinner Harbhajan Singh
of calling him a "monkey" in the 2008 New Year Test in Sydney.
Singh, who denied any wrongdoing, was suspended for three
matches, but the ban was overturned when India threatened to quit the tour in
what was a low point in India-Australia cricket relations.
Ten years on and Australian cricket is again reeling from
the behaviour of its players after the cheating scandal in South Africa and a
review this week that slammed both Cricket Australia and the culture of the
Symonds, who was born in England with one of his parent's of
West Indian background, continues to insist Harbhajan called him a monkey
"probably two or three times".
"From that moment on that was my downhill slide,"
he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
He said his guilt over the way the process played out took a
heavy toll after his teammates were "dragged in" to back up his
account of being racially abused.
"I started to drink heavily as a result of it and my
life was starting to dissolve around me," Symonds said.
"I felt the pressure and the weight of dragging those
mates of mine into the cauldron of this cesspit that should never have got to
this sort of point where we felt guilty.
"I was dealing with it the wrong way. I felt guilty
that I'd dragged my mates into something I didn't think they deserved to be
Symonds' Cricket Australia contract was withdrawn in June
2009 after he was sent home from the World Twenty20 following the latest in a
series of alcohol-related indiscretions.
He claimed at the time he had been diagnosed as a
binge-drinker, not an alcoholic.
Symonds claimed on Friday it was the not the first time
Harbhajan had abused him.
"I'd spoken to Harbhajan the series before in India,
he'd called me a monkey before in India," he told the ABC.
"I went into their dressing room and said, 'Can I speak
to Harbhajan for a minute outside please?' So he came outside and I said,
'Look, the name-calling's got to stop or else it's going to get out of
Despite the animosity the pair eventually made up and played
together in the Indian Premier League.