‘Symonds didn’t want to play in IPL because of blowout with Harbhajan’

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Veteran spinner Harbhajan Singh.

Sydney:  The Monkeygate controversy is a significant footnote in the careers of all players who played in the controversy-laden 2008 Sydney Test between India and Australia, especially Andrew Symonds and Harbhajan Singh as they were at the centre of the scandal.

As it turns out, it would have had a significant effect on the history of the Indian Premier League as well with player agent and former Kings XI Punjab CEO Neil Maxwell revealing that Symonds did not want to play in the league at all.

The other matter he had to resolve in the early days of the IPL was ensuring that the Australian and New Zealand players did not go to the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL).

“(Then IPL commissioner) Lalit Modi asked me to convince the Australian players and the New Zealand players that they needed to come to the IPL, and not go to the ICL or, in Andrew Symonds’ case, not go at all,” Maxwell said on The Top Order podcast. “He didn’t want to go at all, because he had that blowout with Harbhajan.

“So I had to work the Australian cricket team. I was working them all. I remember we’re putting contracts in front of them, and there was going to be a minimum amount, they were going to this thing called the auction. So Andrew Symonds was going to get 200,000 USD minimum [$US 250,000]. And that was about an Australian Cricket contract [for a whole year] — he was on about 300, let’s say.”

Symonds ended up being the most expensive overseas player in the first-ever auction when he was signed by the Deccan Chargers for a price tag of Rs 10.2 crore. Chargers were captained by Symonds’ Australia teammate Adam Gilchrist.

“He was going to get that for six weeks guaranteed, and it could only go up. I remember trying to convince him that he needed to be part of this competition,” Maxwell said.

“Anyway, he reluctantly agreed, and 48 hours later, he had 1.2 million [$1.35m] a year for three years as a contract. You talk about transformation, that was transformation as they introduced the auction.”

The all rounder played 39 IPL matches, scoring 974 runs and taking 20 wickets.

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