The Monkeygate threatened to disturb the diplomatic ties between India and Australia (Image courtesy: Getty)
The Monkeygate threatened to disturb the diplomatic ties between India and Australia (Image courtesy: Getty)

Harbhajan Singh blasted ICC for being lenient towards Australia for the punishments meted out to them for ball-tampering during the third Test against South Africa at Cape Town.

Cameron Bancroft was caught tampering the ball on camera on Day Three of the Test and at the press conference, Steven Smith confessed that it was a deliberate plan and the team’s “leadership group were aware” of it. The events snowballed into a controversy with cricket fraternity questioning Australia’s integrity. The apologies of Australians fell deaf on every year.

Things became so bad that the Australian government, including the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called for the sacking of Smith as Australia’s captain.

Harbhajan is no alien to controversies and had his shares of them during his colourful career. He was at the centre of the Monekygate controversy that earned him a three-Test ban from match referee Mike Procter. He was banned under the suspicion that he had passed on a racist remark “monkey” to Andrew Symonds. The ban was overturned after a hearing.

Steven Smith handed one Test ban by ICC; Cameron Bancroft survives
Steven Smith handed one Test ban by ICC; Cameron Bancroft survives

In the first instance, Sachin Tendulkar was banned on the charges of ball-tampering the Port Elizabeth Test of 2001. Not only Tendulkar, even Harbhajan, Sourav Ganguly, Deep Dasgupta, SS Das and Virender Sehwag were banned. The reason being ‘excessive appealing’ and Ganguly was banned for his failure to control his players. Match referee Mike Denness came under fire.

Harbhajan tweeted, “wow @ICC wow. Great treatment nd FairPlay. No ban for Bancroft with all the evidences whereas 6 of us were banned for excessive appealing in South Africa 2001 without any evidence and Remember Sydney 2008? Not found guilty and banned for 3 matches.different people different rules”

Smith stepped down as Australia captain on Sunday pending investigation by Cricket Australia. He was handed a Test ban and fined 100 per cent of his match fee. Bancroft, who was caught tampering the ball, escaped with 75 per cent fine and no suspension.

Australia ended up losing the Test by 322 runs to help South Africa lead series 2-1.