Controversial ICC Match Referee Mike Procter has hit the headlines again after claiming that the Cricket Club of India (CCI) went on to revoke his lifetime membership of the club in the aftermath of the infamous “Monkeygate” controversy that unfolded in the Sydney Test between Australia and India towards the end of 2008.
Continuing on the controversy, Procter further stated that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) did not stop at having his CCI membership revoked and went a step ahead by stripping him of his refereeing assignment for the 2009 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) which was held in South Africa, his home country.
“I had to pay a heavy price for the Monkeygate,” said Procter, a former South African international. India’s 2007/08 tour of Australia was marred by controversies and ugly incidents, with the Sydney Test being subject to particularly unpleasant atmosphere, where Procter was the designated match referee.
What was the Monkeygate controversy?
To elaborate on the Monkeygate incident further, Procter had ruled India’s Harbhajan Singh guilty of racially abusing Aussie all-rounder Andrew Symonds and followed it up by handing out a three Test suspension to the off-spinner. The verdict led to a virtual derailment of the India-Australia battle with the BCCI threatening to walk out of the series unless Harbhajan’s suspension was lifted with immediate effect.
Following up on the stance, Sharad Pawar, the then BCCI-supremo filed an appeal with the ICC and Harbhajan’s punishment was subsequently downgraded with the Indian off-spinner being cleared to take part in the rest of the series. Indian batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar was also called in to submit a deposition on the matter before the ICC.
Procter had at that time thought that the controversy had been put to bed but the Indian cricket board never let it go, with the South African legend going on to state that “I became an enemy of India after the incident and still have scars from what happened after the Sydney Test.”
Procter’s initial fears came true when he found out that the CCI had cancelled his life membership. “It was an honour to be a member of the prestigious CCI. It is like the Lord’s and the MCC but the fallout of Monkeygate cost me the membership. I was told that a couple of members of the BCCI have influenced the decision of the CCI management,” he told the Mirror.