The 'monkey-gate' controversy between Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds got lots of media attention and became a national news, when it first happened during the SCG Test of 2008 series between India and Australia.
Harbhajan had faced three-match suspension for calling Symonds a 'monkey'. Mike Procter, the match-referee of that Test has written about the whole saga in his autobiography, named 'Caught in the Middle'.
Speaking to the Sunday Express, Mike brought to light Sachin Tendulkar's role in the whole event. He said, “It was very disappointing. If he had said that (him hearing Harbhajan say ‘ma ki c***’ and not monkey) upfront, it would have been a whole different version. If Sachin had said that he had heard this, it was to be one person’s word against the other. It was going to create doubt and so he (Harbhajan) would not be (held) guilty on racism charges.”
He also added that Tendulkar not coming forward has not helped him. “The words ‘monkey’ and ‘ma ki’, heard 22 yards away, must sound very similar, and that entire episode could have been a high-profile case of lost in translation. But Tendulkar never came forward with that version to us in the initial hearing, which left me with very little choice.”
During the hearing, Harbhajan had maintained that English was a barrier for him, which surprised Mike. He knew Singh speaks as good English as him. “Harbhajan speaks English as good as I do. So he (Queen’s Counsel Nigel Peters, the ICC-appointed legal help at the hearing) said that they can have an interpreter, but he refused. Harbhajan didn’t offer anything… it was surprising that he did not argue.”
In his book, Procter also mentioned how then Indian team manager Chetan Chauhan's lack of arguments left him with no choice. “He (manager Chetan Chauhan) informed Ponting that the racism charge was completely made up, because as Indians, it was just not possible for them to be racist… To throw out Australia’s charge on the assumptive grounds that it was impossible for Indians to be racist would have made a mockery of the entire hearing.”