Harsha Bhogle talks to cricketers and administrators

'I'd never say anything personal to a player'

Part four: Andrew Symonds talks about his disappointment with the way the 2008 Sydney Test controversy was handled (00:00)

October 4, 2010


'I'd never say anything personal to a player'

October 4, 2010

Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, Andrew Symonds and Matthew Hayden at Harbhajan Singh's hearing, Adelaide, January 29, 2008
The Sydney saga: "I had four of my good mates in there with me, and me and my mates were made to look idiots" © Getty Images

Harsha Bhogle: One of the things that people say when they are done with cricket is that they miss the mateship. Is that something you miss, or is it freedom from it all? You did make friends there...

Andrew Symonds: I am in still in contact with some of the players in the side. I have got a great deal of mates outside of cricket, with whom I spend all my recreational time - fishing and hunting and camping, doing things like that. They are the people I used to miss when I was on tour.

The older I got, the more homesick I used to get. I get homesick now, being away from home. Back in the old days, I could go away for two months and I wouldn't even bat an eyelid. I might think to ring mum every once a week or something. I have definitely changed in that way, yes.

HB: Andrew Symonds and homesick… I mean, if you had told me that Andrew Symonds gets homesick, I would have said, "No, you're talking about somebody else." But yes, it's interesting to hear.

AS: It's true, though, and I'm not ashamed of it. That's just the way I feel. I really enjoy being at home, being with my mates and my family. It is something that I haven't had for a good part of my life.

HB: In a sense, your approach to the game has been that you give nothing and you take nothing, that you are willing to say a little thing here and there to somebody, that you are going to come hard at someone, make him uncomfortable. That's really your approach to cricket, isn't it?

AS: Yes, it was. When I first played, I played in a pretty uncompromising era. I played with a lot of the old-fashioned cricketers, and that sort off rubbed on me. When I first played, I used to get the beer out of the fridge and bring it to the senior players, that sort of thing. When I tell the young players about this, they don't believe me, but that was how it was. The way they played in the middle was uncompromising. If someone was hurt, then that was a weakness to the opposition, and that's when you went in with both feet. But by the same token, you have to be skilful in this game as well, because it is a difficult game. So that was one of my roles in the side as well. Myself and Matty Hayden, we would gang up on someone, or we might just see something and we would just go for it…

HB: What is the object behind doing that? From a distance it seems to me that if you unsettle a player, then he is not thinking straight. Is that what it was?

AS: Yes, it's a way of trying to get another wicket or intimidate someone, or put something in their mind for the rest of the series or something like that. There was always a meaning to it; there was always a reason for it.

HB: So would you say anything personal to a player?

AS: No, I have never been one for that. That's one thing I won't do, no.

HB: The whole Harbhajan thing - how do you look back at it now?

"The allegation was that this hadn't happened, and it had. Then the lies started, and then it became political. If truth, honesty and common sense had prevailed, then there would have been a punishment for the player"

AS: Mate, it was a very political time. There were a lot of grey areas, and it wasn't handled very well. I think Cricket Australia was intimidated by the Indian cricket board.

The thing, I think, that was grinding on me the most was the lying. I had four of my good mates in there with me, and me and my mates were made to look idiots. Because the allegation was that this hadn't happened, and it had. Then the lies started, and then it became political. The captain was made to look like a fool, and that should have never happened, and the other players too. And I was.

It was just a really ugly incident. If truth, honesty and common sense had prevailed, then there would have been a punishment for the player. It would have been dealt with, and it would have set a precedent for the future. But I don't think it has done that.

HB: Did you read the judgement of the New Zealand judge eventually? Do you think he was swayed because he wasn't presented with the right evidence, the way you would have liked it to be?

AS: Yes, I think, because it was really like a court room slugfest in the end. And I think the way our side was put across, it wasn't as accurate as it needed to be. We probably missed a couple of points, which in the end cost our side of the story dearly. From there we were in strife because our rebuttal, or whatever you have, wasn't watertight

HB: How easy was it to move on? Did it affect relationships? Did it sour you as a person?

AS: [Pause] I would have to say that I was angry at the time. I was completely disillusioned with it all, I think, in the end. It was turned into a really big story, and I was embarrassed that my mates had been dragged down into it, yes.

HB: You are the kind who just moves on…

AS: Yes, I was embarrassed because the other four blokes were involved. If it had been just me, then I would have just kept going forward.

HB: It's interesting. I met you a few days later - we were playing a little charity game at Bowral and you were there as a representative of Skins, and you and I did a little chat for the audience over there. You seemed fine to move on at that point. You said, "Look, what has happened has happened. It happened on the field and I'm happy to move on and play cricket."

AS: Yes, maybe it had not sunk in at that point. I had to just rush away to do an endorsement thing, and then, I suppose, maybe when I came back to the side it started to sink in over time. I was with these blokes day after day, and there were people still writing about it in the paper. You think about their wives, their mothers and fathers, that sort of thing. I think it was, as I said, something that was handled poorly. People didn't realise the ramifications of it all, probably. You don't realise how big a part of the Australian life the Australian cricket team is. Like, everyone is interested. I don't think that the powers-that-be realised how big some of the players in that team were, like how fascinated the public are by them, so they want to know...

Posted by blackerthanyourhate on (October 7, 2010, 15:11 GMT)

yeah right Symonds never says anything personal to any player.I am sure what he said to Brandon Mccullum wasnt personal for him either..He can say whatever he want to whoever he want to.His attitude is nothing but a major embarrassment for the sport..I am glad i dont have to see him playing for australia anymore

Posted by Runster1 on (October 6, 2010, 12:19 GMT)

Symonds is not SAINT that can criticize others while getting drunk and then going fishing and not being part of the "team". "90% of indian players are lazy": symonds says stuff like this and he wonders why many indian supporters dislike him and use abusive language to attack him.

Posted by   on (October 6, 2010, 6:31 GMT)

I think Symonds is dead wrong on the Monkey-gate issue. I think it smacks of cultural ignorance. It should be told to him that when Indians call someone a monkey, it does not have racial connotation to it, but it actually means a fool, a stupid, or an idiot. I don't think Harbhajan really has that cultural sensitivity to be aware of what calling someone a monkey means? So, there are two ways to it: either it was the "theri maan-ki" expletive in Hindi or "monkey" in English, which for us Indians really means a stupid or an idiot.

Posted by Kaze on (October 6, 2010, 3:20 GMT)

Spot on "the lies" that the society down to a t.

Posted by BPBP on (October 5, 2010, 21:57 GMT)

Andrew Symonds is a SAINT.

Posted by AsherCA on (October 5, 2010, 20:52 GMT)


Posted by ns_krishnan on (October 5, 2010, 19:28 GMT)

Cone On, guys ! I feel he was perfectly within his rights to stand his ground. Sometimes you are given out when you are not. Nobody comes then and corrects that decision -no UDRS then. He is giving honest opinion about Indian cricketers. He says most Indian players do not take fitness seriously. Can anyone disagree seeing Munaf, Nehra etc ?

Posted by tuffer on (October 5, 2010, 19:05 GMT)

Symonds has no right to criticize others. Firstly, he has to correct his own behaviour in and out of the field before commenting on others---Hafiz Rahman, Sharjah- UAEs

Posted by   on (October 5, 2010, 18:21 GMT)

I can't agree with everything he says, but it seems obvious to me he is still genuinely upset over the Sydney incident. I have to agree that incident was so badly handled by both cricket boards. I'd really love to hear an interview on what Harbhajan has to say about the incident and see if he is still remains as upset as Symonds does. It seems to me Harbhajan was treated very differently at the time. Regardless, at the end of the day it was something that should have been sorted out on the field.

Posted by Gopes_On_Dopes on (October 5, 2010, 17:55 GMT)

Well Andrew, its sad to see you havent learnt your lesson after that too

Comments have now been closed for this article

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