New Delhi: The 2008 Sydney Test between India and Australia made headlines for all the wrong reasons. While the match saw its fair share of umpiring errors and on-field flashpoints, the biggest story to come out of it was the 'Monkeygate' incident involving Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds.
Recalling the match, Harbhajan said that then-Australian skipper Ricky Ponting was acting like the umpire himself.
"When I talk about the 2008 Test against Australia in Sydney, I think in that match, Ricky Ponting was the umpire himself. He was claiming catches and then was pronouncing the verdict," Harbhajan told former opener and commentator Aakash Copra in the latter's YouTube show, AakashVani.
"Australians say what happens on the ground should stay on the ground, but the incident that happened between me and Symonds went beyond the ground," said Harbhajan.
The controversy ended up overshadowing what was otherwise a high-quality match featuring as many as five centuries, including an unbeaten 162 from Symonds. Australia dramatically won the game by 122 runs with minutes to spare on the final day.
The saga between Harbhajan and Symonds snowballed into a hearing and the spinner said that he faced the full force of the Australian media at the time.
"Me and Symonds were very close to each other, only Tendulkar was close to us. When the hearing started, Matthew Hayden, Adam Gilchrist, Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting, all four said they had heard what Bhajji said to Symonds," Harbhajan said.
"I thought you guys were nowhere near the picture, even Sachin Tendulkar did not know what actually transpired between me and Symonds, only both of us knew what we actually talked about.
"I was engulfed in a conspiracy, there was an enquiry and I was very scared as to what was happening with me. Australian media made me Michael Jackson, I was being constantly chased by cameras," he added.