Symonds: My life spiralled out of control
Andrew Symonds has revealed how the "Monkeygate" affair pushed him to the brink of self-destruction.
A decade on from one of the ugliest incidents in the history of Test cricket, Symonds has given an incredible insight into how his life spiralled out of control on a Fox Cricket special, Monkey Gate - 10 Years On.
Symonds sits on a couch with former teammates Adam Gilchrist and Brett Lee and watches extended highlights from that fateful 2008 SCG Test and opens up about how the stress and heartache of the episode caused him to develop a drinking problem that prematurely ended his career.
The unique documentary will air on Fox Cricket on Monday night after play at approximately 9.50pm AEDT, or in the event of a rain delay.
Symonds tells the story of how two years later Indian star Harbhajan Singh broke down as he apologised to him in person for allegedly calling him a "monkey" - with the pair sharing a hug.
But before that extraordinary reconciliation in the front yard of a Mumbai mansion, Symonds had already hit rock bottom.
"I went downhill pretty fast after this because I felt responsible for four of my close mates that I dragged into this whole situation," Symonds recounts.
"It bared very heavily on me. I started drinking way too much, and I just started - my cricket, my mindset, everything - just started to go downhill.
"I wasn't in the right frame of mind."
It's clear that not even close mates Gilchrist or Lee were fully aware of the impact the protracted ordeal had on Symonds' life.
In August of the same year Symonds was sent home from a one-day international camp in Darwin for missing a team meeting after opting to go fishing instead and soon his glittering career for Australia faded out.
Symonds says his only regret out of the explosive incident was that the accusations against Harbhajan, which brought Australian cricket to the brink of a war with the all-powerful Indian Cricket Board, dragged friends Gilchrist, Matt Hayden, Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting into the mire.
"(Until) what transpired from this particular thing, I didn't realise how powerful one player, one incident (could be). How much money was at stake and the ramifications," he said.
However, Symonds reveals how after all the animosity, the regrettable moment in history ultimately brought he and Harbhajan closer together in what the special shows has been an emotional journey.
"When I first arrived in Mumbai (to play in the same IPL team as Harbhajan), there was a deafening silence when I first walked into the dressing room," he said.
"I was trying to alleviate that tension desperately for the sake of the side.
"We go to a very wealthy man's place for a BBQ and drinks one night … and he said, 'mate, can I speak to you for a moment in the garden out the front?'
"He goes, 'look, I've got to say sorry to you for what I did to you in Sydney. I want to apologise. I hope I didn't cause you, your family and friends too much harm and I really apologise for what I said. I shouldn't have said it'.
"And he actually broke down crying. I could see that was just a huge weight off his shoulders that he just had to get rid of.
"We shook hands and I gave him a hug and said, 'mate, it's all good. It's dealt with. It wasn't my fault or your fault. It was the way it was all handled. It was just handled poorly and it's not your fault.'
"And you could tell it was a weight off his shoulders.
"Haydos said, 'mate, you're two very similar animals'."