The word sledging is almost synonyms with Australian players, when it comes to cricket. Known for finding unique ways to sledge a cricketer and throw the players off their game. The aggressive tactic however has caused extensive damage to players on and off the field. Recently, Australian batsman David Warner walked off a grade cricket match because of a nasty comment passed on by a player.
Retired Australian cricketer Andrew Symonds, the man with who was perceived to have a ‘hard exterior’ almost fell off the track because of sledging. The infamous ”monkeygate” scandal involving Indian cricketer Harbhajan Singh took a toll on the Queensland all-rounder.
More than a decade after the unfortunate incident, the 43-year-old reveals the impact it had on his personal life while talking to Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC):
“From that moment on that was my downhill slide. I started to drink heavily as a result of it and my life was starting to dissolve around me,”
The feeling of ‘guilt’ took over as somehow he felt like dragging his teammates:
“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 (teammates) into something I didn’t think they deserved to be involved in,” he added.
He also revealed that the name-calling (a claim he had made before) had started in India before the tour started:
“I’d spoken to Harbhajan in the series before in India, he’d called me a monkey before in India. 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 hand.”
The explosive all-rounder was eventually sent back from World T20 2009 for his drinking problems. At that time, he claimed that he was diagnosed with alcohol-addiction.
However, after few years, gaps were bridged between Symonds and Harbhajan as they played for Mumbai Indians (MI). Indian players Rohit Sharma and Yuzvendra Chahal have seconded the opinion that people have a wrong perception of Symonds.
In an episode of Breakfast with Champions, Chahal recalled his visit to Australia when Symonds and his wife treated him to butter chicken. The two share a bond that dates back to 2011.