Symonds tells of Cardiff bender
Andrew Symonds argued with senior team staff to let him play on the morning he turned up drunk before Australia's 2005 loss to Bangladesh. And he has also spoken about how close he came to a fight with a South African rugby player less than a year later that could have cost him his international career.
In his upcoming book Roy: Going for Broke, Symonds recalls the sketchy details of his pub crawl through Cardiff that led to a two-game suspension, which included Australia's first defeat to Bangladesh. "Ah, it's only Bangladesh," he wrote, "a little bit of fizz won't be a worry."
Symonds returned to the hotel after sunrise, settling down to breakfast as some of his team-mates were coming down to eat, and after going to his room was woken up only when Michael Clarke put him in the shower. Having made it to the ground on the team bus, Symonds raised the suspicions of Ricky Ponting and John Buchanan after he had slipped off a wheelie bin while doing his stretches.
"You're drunk. You're not playing today," Buchanan said after Ponting had made the first enquiry. "No, I'm right to go," Symonds replied. "I'm playing." Buchanan told Symonds to "sort yourself out" and excuses such as an injury or flu were being considered to explain his absence. "As it started to sink in that I was gone I fired up," he said. "If you're going to drop me, then you better tell them why or I will."
The story emerged during the game and Symonds faced an internal disciplinary committee after the match. "The team meeting went for ages and, as a group, the disappointment they felt in my actions meant this wasn't going to blow over with a slap on the wrist and a "naughty boy Roy" speech," he said. "They might have been my mates, but they were united in their fury of my actions.
"Looking back, my embarrassment and regret are stronger than ever. I said afterwards that I felt as if my guts had been ripped out because I'd let down some of my closest mates, my family and, let's face it, the whole country. That hasn't changed." Symonds ruled himself out of contention for the Allan Border Medal as a result of the incident.
Symonds' behaviour was being questioned again in South Africa in March when there were rumours he was involved in a heated argument with Graeme Smith in a Cape Town nightclub. However, Symonds said it was not Smith but a Cheetahs Super 14 rugby player who he asked to "take it outside".
"I was on my way out of the VIP area when Pup [Michael Clarke] zoomed in to steer me away and calm things down," he said. "Big Ollie [the prop Ollie le Roux] did his bit to keep everyone happy too." Symonds left the club once the "red mist had faded".
"I owe Pup big time. Looking back, I realise now I was headed for the sort of strife that could have brought a swift end to my tour and possibly my international career. It was a sobering reminder that old-school ways where two men sort out their difference one-on-one are long gone."