That Was A Very Difficult Time, People Didn’t Know Much About Mental Health – Harbhajan Singh Opens Up On ‘Monkeygate’ Scandal

Former Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh has opened up about the ‘Monkeygate’ scandal, stating that it was a difficult time for him and that people didn’t know much about mental health during those days.

Harbhajan Singh was involved in a massive controversy during India’s 2007-08 tour of Australia, which is known as the ‘Monkeygate’ scandal.

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Harbhajan Singh (Image credits: Twitter)

Australia captain Ricky Ponting had complained to the on-field umpires that Harbhajan had called Andrew Symonds a “monkey” and when the matter was reported to the match referee, Harbhajan was found guilty and was suspended for three games.

The Indian team management were unhappy with the verdict as they believed Harbhajan had used the abusive Hindi phrase ‘Teri maa ki’, which the Australians misinterpreted as a monkey.

The charge of racism against the spinner was later dropped and his punishment reduced. Instead, he was fined 50 percent of the match fee.

Speaking on ‘Backstage with Boria’, the former Indian off-spinner opened up about struggling with his mental health during the ‘Monkeygate’ scandal, saying he used to think that if he talked about his mental health issues, people on the outside would think he was weak. .

“That was a very difficult moment. People didn’t know much about mental health. I used to think that if I talk about it outside, they’ll think I’m weak. So I faced it my way. Sitting in my room, I used to think that I didn’t even say anything to deserve such things. Every day my picture was in the papers, they called me a racist. I didn’t want my kids to look at those clips and videos and think, ‘My dad said something that created such a ruckus.’ So it was a very difficult moment. I’m glad people are opening up about their mental health issues now, but back in those days I used to feel like people would call me weak for taking a step back or crying.”

God was, you know, as always very, very kind and gave me the result that we were all looking for: Harbhajan Singh.

Harbhajan Singh
Harbhajan Singh. Image-Twitter.

India lost the Test series against Australia during the 2007–08 tour, but won the Commonwealth Bank ODI series by defeating Australia and Harbhajan Singh was able to sack Symonds twice in the last two matches. While speaking about this, Harbhajan said that God has always been very kind. He said:

“God was, you know, as always very very kind and gave me the result that we were all looking for. Matthew Hayden and Andrew Symmonds, both of whom were involved in that incident, I eliminated both of them in the semi-final (of the Commonwealth ODI series) and then also in the final.”

Harbhajan Singh
Harbhajan Singh (Image credit: Twitter)

Harbhajan Singh He was also asked if he ever thought about quitting cricket, to which he replied that he never thought about it and wanted to fight being unfairly blamed.

“No, I didn’t think along those lines (leaving cricket). For me, the important thing was that if you haven’t done anything wrong, you fight for it, but if you’re wrong, you immediately apologize. Don’t put yourself down by apologizing. But if you are wrongly blamed, then you should go out and fight, either against one person or against 1.25 lakh. I never thought of quitting cricket because cricket is the most important thing to me. Whatever they did, I promised myself I wouldn’t let my cricket suffer.”

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