'Nowhere did I accuse Sachin of lying'
Adam Gilchrist has insisted that he did not accuse Sachin Tendulkar of lying while presenting evidence in the racism hearing after the controversial Sydney Test. He also denied calling him a "bad sport" after observing that it was often hard to locate Tendulkar for an after-match handshake following Indian losses.
Gilchrist's comments, quoted from his soon-to-be released autobiography True Colours, caused a stir in India and both players confirmed they had spoken to each other and agreed that the remarks were taken out of context. The main issue surrounded the racism hearing of the Indian offspinner Harbhajan Singh.
Harbhajan was accused of racially abusing Andrew Symonds and was suspended for three Tests but later had his ban overturned on appeal. Tendulkar was batting with Harbhajan when the incident occurred and Gilchrist observed that the evidence Tendulkar gave during the match referee's hearing was different from that he presented during the appeal.
"All I stated are the facts that everyone knows, that initially Sachin mentioned he wasn't sure what Harbhajan had said, then later confirmed his support when Harbhajan said he'd used a Hindi word in the heated exchange with Symonds," Gilchrist wrote in his column for the Times of India. "Nowhere do I accuse Sachin of lying. So to have spoken directly with Sachin about these matters was a great relief for me."
However MV Sridhar, the Indian team manager for the tour who was present at both the hearings, first with Mike Procter and then with Justice John Hansen, contradicted Gilchrist's statements. Sridhar said Tendulkar had told Procter that he had heard some form of abuse but the match referee did not probe further. Later, Sridhar said, Tendulkar told Hansen he had heard Harbhajan say teri maa ki but clarified that it was an abbreviated form of an abuse.
"I am pleased to say that at the conclusion of our chat the same respect Sachin and I have always had for each other continues to exist. The headlines arose from the manner in which some journalists interpreted a couple of points I have made in an about-to-be released autobiography."
Gilchrist said the Harbhajan hearing was too big an issue to ignore in his book. "My only real reference to it was to recall the way the events unfolded from the initial hearing, the night the match finished, through to the final judicial hearing a few weeks later."
Gilchrist said the references to Tendulkar not shaking his hand in the changing rooms after Tests were merely to highlight the cultural differences between the two countries. He said he never intended to question Tendulkar's sportsmanship.
"In the book, I mention that a cultural difference between our team and that of the Indians was the importance of shaking hands with the opposition after a loss," he said. "It's simply my thoughts and from my experiences it seemed that this routine wasn't as important to some oppositions as it was in Australia, where it is drilled into us from an early age.
"I made the comment that Sachin and Harbhajan were sometimes not around to shake hands. Whether that is right or wrong is not my point. It was more the cultural differences I was trying to highlight, which it's fair to say, have been integral in most disputes or flare-ups between these two proud nations in the past."
Gilchrist said he had nothing against India and that he had always enjoyed touring the country. "I also feel that people who know me, or people who read the book in its entirety, will know only too well the sincere affection I have for India as a country and the very friendly, passionate people that live here."