Harbhajan Singh
Harbhajan Singh Eranga Jayawardena

Harbhajan's words of advice for Aussie skipper

CRICKET: The man at the centre of the most explosive stand-off in Test history has encouraged Australian captain Steve Smith to use the boos of a fervent Indian crowd as motivation in Ranchi.

Indian great Harbhajan Singh was public enemy No.1 in Australia at the height of the Monkeygate scandal and says he sympathises with Smith and Virat Kohli over the - he believes unfair - way they've been swept up into the centre of a media storm.

Before last week's volatile confrontation in Bangalore, Smith had never been routinely booed in the course of his clean-cut Test career, but even before the DRS controversy erupted, the Australian skipper was suddenly subjected to unprecedented levels of abuse from Indian fans.

The atmosphere in Bangalore took on the intimidating atmosphere of an English soccer crowd, and more could be coming Smith's way in Ranchi.

Singh says the hatred he felt from Australians back in 2008 only spurred him on, and he believes Smith is good enough to use the negative fallout as fuel he can add to the fire within.

"For me it was just a simple thing. That motivated me to do even better," Singh said.

"When people were going against me that motivated me to do even better.

"Every time I went out to bowl or bat in Australia people booed at me so I felt that I'm the most recognised man out there on the Australian earth - so whether they like me or not, they're there to watch me do what I do.

"That was to show everyone the things I could do with the ball or bat in my hand and that's exactly what I did - it motivated me to do even better, rather than focusing on what happened and why this happened.

"It's OK, things happen on the ground. We should let it be there and play the next game and let the bat and ball talk."

Singh is still adamant the media was responsible for blowing up the Monkeygate saga, and despite Smith's obvious look up to the coach's box during DRS and Kohli's scathing accusation that the Australians were systematic cheats, he believes media forces have again sent tensions in this series spiralling out of control.

"Obviously it's something which they both would not want to keep on hanging around. I do sympathise with them with the media dragging them into this rather than the right focus which is cricket," he said.

"I don't know what Steve Smith is all about. People have different things to say or different personalities. But he's a top player and I wish him to do well whenever he plays."

Singh admits he's been surprised by the level of fight Australia has shown this series, given he made the bold pre-tour prediction that Australia would be smashed off the park 4-0.

The great off-spinner with 400 plus Test wickets to his name over the course of over 100 matches also took a pot shot at the poor standard of pitches prepared for this series.

As Australia braces for another pitch farce in Ranchi, Singh said Test cricket deserved five-day epics, not toss influenced affairs that are all over within three days.

"It should be top competition between the two teams rather than the game being over in three days or two and a half days. No one is benefiting," he said.

"Yes we want to see the results, but I would like to see one team trying to win the game on the fifth day and one team trying to defend the team on the fifth day. That would be Test cricket at its best.

"When it's two teams of this calibre, that should be the competition we want to see."

News Corp Australia


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