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Tendulkar's role in "Monkeygate" scandal still haunts Oz players

January 2, 2012 - Melbourne

The cricket world is abuzz with anticipation that Sachin Tendulkar will score his 100th international century during the second Test in Sydney, but some Australian players are still haunted by the Little Master's role in the Andrew Symonds "Monkeygate" scandal.

Tendulkar is the most prolific batsman of all time, with 51 Test hundreds and 48 one-day centuries. And with an average of 221 at the ground, the symmetry of Tendulkar scoring his 100th hundred during the 100th Test held at the SCG could not be greater.

Some Australian players lost respect for him when he gave completely different accounts of what took place as a key witness in the Harbhajan Singh-Andrew Symonds racism row.

Harbhajan was suspended for three matches after the second Test in Sydney four years ago, but the penalty was subsequently reduced to a fine on appeal.

Former wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist, who retired at the end of that 2007-08 season, was furious, describing the appeal as a "joke" in his book, The Daily telegraph reports.

"Tendulkar, who'd said at the first hearing that he hadn't been able to hear what Harbhajan had said and he was a fair way away, up the other end, so I'm certain he was telling the truth - now supported Harbhajan's version that he hadn't called Symo a 'monkey' but instead a Hindi term of abuse that might sound like 'monkey' to Australian ears," Gilchrist wrote.

"The Indians got him off the hook when they, of all people, should have been treating the matter of racial vilification with the utmost seriousness," he adds.

Mike Hussey is confident that such a furore will not erupt again. "That was a long time ago and obviously the personnel in the teams have changed quite a lot, particularly in our team, maybe not so much in the Indian team," Hussey said at the SCG.

Opposing captains Michael Clarke and MS Dhoni have also made it clear they did not want a repeat of that ugly Test and its aftermath.

"The IPL has helped reduce tension between the two teams, and irrespective of what happened in the past, our relationship with Indian players is stronger than ever before," Clarke wrote in Daily telegraph.

Dhoni was similarly circumspect about Sydney 2008. "A few individuals did make mistakes at that point in time. It's something that we don't really want to do as professional cricketers. There's a lot at stake. People look up to us. So we'll try to keep it controversy-free. But still it's important to make it interesting," he said.


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