Neil Maxwell, former CEO of Kings XI Punjab and player agent, has revealed that Aussie star Andrew Symonds was not willing to play in the IPL due to his fallout with India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh after the controversial ‘Monkeygate’ row during a Test series between Australia and India in 2008.
Harbhajan was handed a three-match ban at that time, although it was later overturned on appeal, while Symonds only played nine Tests after the scandal broke.
Symonds has since said the incident turned out to be the premature end of his career, as he was disillusioned by the sport and the politics behind it. As per Maxwell, the all-rounder very nearly didn’t play the IPL because of it.
“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 with the Australian cricket team. I was working with 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.
“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.”
Symonds was roped in by Deccan Chargers at the IPL 2008 auction for a whopping USD 1.35 million. He was the second-most expensive player at the auction behind Chennai Super Kings’ (CSK) captain MS Dhoni.
“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 a transformation as they introduced the auction.
“I was convincing the players that they needed to do it, and of course, after that, everyone thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. And as a result of that, I was recommended as one of the CEOs.”
After leaving Deccan Chargers, Symonds even went on to play with Harbhajan at Mumbai Indians (MI) in IPL 2011. He scored 974 runs and picked up 20 wickets in 39 IPL matches.