New Delhi:Stung by a barrage of criticism, retired Australian wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist on Saturday denied calling Sachin Tendulkar a "bad sport" and a "liar" in his upcoming autobiography, claiming that he was misinterpreted by the media.
Gilchrist said all is well between him and Tendulkar after he rang up the Indian batting maestro to explain how excerpts from his autobiography had been quoted out of context by newspapers. He said the conversation with Tendulkar has left him a relieved man.
"There were headlines around the cricketing globe on Friday suggesting that I had accused Indian batting great Sachin Tendulkar of being a bad sport and also that he had lied when giving evidence in the Harbhajan Singh racial villification hearing earlier this year.
"Neither of these accusations are true and I felt strongly enough on this to immediately ring Sachin once it was brought to my attention, to explain to him. I am pleased to say that at the conclusion of our chat, the same respect Sachin and I have always had for each other continues to exist," Gilchrist said.
Rattled by the furore that has virtually turned into a backlash in India ever since the controversial excerpts came out, Gilchrist said a couple of sentences from an entire chapter were used to script a sensational story.
"The headlines arose from the manner in which some journalists interpreted a couple of points I have made in an about-to-be released autobiography," he said in a column for a leading Indian daily.
"In the book I mention that a cultural difference between our team and that of the Indians was the importance of shaking hands with the opposition after a loss. From my experience it seemed this routine wasn't as important to some oppositions as it was in Australia, where it is drilled into us from an early age," Gilchrist explained.
The former stumper said he stood by his comments on Tendulkar and Harbhajan Singh being hard to find for a handshake after a match, but this did not imply that he considered them a bad sport.
He clarified that his comments were only aimed at highlighting the cultural differences between the two sides.
"I made the comment that Sachin and Harbhajan were sometimes not around to shake hands. Whether that is right or wrong is not my point. It was more the cultural differences I was trying to highlight, which it's fair to say, have been integral in most disputes or flare-ups between these two proud nations."
"Nowhere do I accuse Sachin of being bad sport," he said.
He is drawing flak for reopening the 'monkey-gate' saga which has been set aside as a closed chapter by both the teams but Gilchrist insisted that he merely "stated the facts" and never called Tendulkar a liar as has been reported.
"...I obviously had to address it in the book as it was a huge issue last summer and too big to ignore. That said, my only reference to it was recall the way the events unfolded from the initial hearing, the night the match finished, through to the final judicial hearing a few weeks later," wrote Gilchrist.
"All I stated are the facts that everyone knows, that initially Sachin had mentioned he wasn't sure what Harbhajan had said, then later confirmed his support when Harbhajan said he'd used a Hindi word in the heated exchange with Symonds. Nowhere do I accuse Sachin of lying," said Gilchrist.
The celebrated keeper said he had the utmost respect for Tendulkar.
"To have spoken directly with Sachin about there matters was a great relief for me. I have always admired his amazing cricketing ability and have spoken regularly about how I believe he has set the finest example of hos to handle fame and the extraordinary public profile that comes with being an Indian cricketing superstar."
Gilchrist hoped that his clarification on the matter would put an end to the furore.
"I have always enjoyed touring here, and most importantly have many strong friendships in India. For those reasons and for my personal friendship with Sachin, I was most concerned that a few off-the-mark headlines and interpretations of my book could possibly sour these friendships.
"Thankfully that hasn't occurred and I look forward to visiting these shores both as a cricketer and personally for many years to come," he said.