Former captain Allan Border said the country’s cricket board, Cricket Australia (CA), abandoned its players during the infamous ‘Monkeygate’ incident, surrendering to the considerable might of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and choosing money over morality.
Border also said it was a reason for him to quit CA, he writes in his new book “Cricket As I See It”.
“I thought we (the board) let the players down badly then. Australians have copped our brickbats over the years for being aggressive and in-your-face and playing that style of game that a lot of people didn’t like,” Border was quoted as saying by The Weekend Australian.
“We encouraged the players to clean the game up and report certain incidents but when they did report the alleged abuse, it turned 180 degrees. Andrew Symonds and Ricky Ponting were the ones who really copped it. Andrew was the victim of the abuse and Ricky is not the sort of bloke to run off and tittle-tattle but he figured enough was enough, and did what we had told him to do… both (were) pilloried for the stance they took.”
Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh was suspended for three matches after the second Test of a four-match series in Sydney in 2007-08 for allegedly racially abusing Andrew Symonds.
The Indian team threatened to boycott the tour unless the decision was overturned.
CA, wary of losing out on a significant amount of cash pie from the subcontinent, contrived with the BCCI to present an agreed set of facts at the appeal.
Harbhajan was let off and Judge John Hansen attacked Symonds for his approach to the game. CA earned around $7 million from a day-night match against India.
Border didn’t divulge the boardroom conversations but writes: “The backroom deals were done, and I was out of my depth. They made the commercial decision, not the ethical/moral decision.”
He says the board was told that “we’d have a massive financial hole if the Indians went home, and we couldn’t afford it. As a board member, I was really disappointed but the initial agitation dies down when you start getting those commercial realities”.
“What price do you put on these things? I quite like Harbhajan, I like the way he plays his cricket, but was he guilty? There wasn’t definitive evidence.”
Border writes the incident “hastened my departure from the board a little”.
“I think the spiral downhill started for Andrew, his cricket started to fall away, he felt thoroughly let down and I suppose what price do you put on trying to do the right thing and backing your players and what would have happened?”
“At the end of the day, it still sits uncomfortably with me, but I get it – sometimes you have to take a deep breath and assess what your fall-back position is, you don’t just head toward the abyss,” Border said.