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September 4, 2008
Doug Walters says Andrew Symonds has become a "bit of a liability" but Dean Jones, another former Australia Test batsman, believes the treatment of the allrounder has been "disgraceful". Symonds was sent home from Darwin for going fishing instead of attending a team meeting and is unlikely to be part of next month's Test tour to India.
While Symonds decides on his future, he has been given more to think about following the responses from former players and coaches. Walters, who is famously laidback and the subject of numerous off-field adventures, has told Symonds to "pull his head in".
"I certainly think he must start toeing the line more than he is doing at the moment," Walters said in the Courier-Mail. "Whether he likes it or lumps it, he is a public figure and he should start acting like one. I certainly hope he does start toeing the line because we need a player like Andrew Symonds in the side."
Jones, speaking on Radio 2GB, wanted to know what the big deal was about Symonds' behaviour. "Jeff Thomson and Dennis Lillee did some awful things in their time," Jones said. "And it's not as if he's hit anyone or racially abused anyone.
"All he has done is miss a team meeting. For God's sake. We send him home and then throw him to the dogs. I think it's disgraceful.''
Greg Chappell, the former Australia captain and now Centre of Excellence coach, said Symonds needed a break from the game to work out what was important. "There are a lot of stresses away from the field," Chappell told AAP. "The constant focus of attention on everything that you do, anything that goes wrong will be highlighted.
"Learning to deal with all of that and understanding how it fits into a successful career and a successful team is a very important part of the mentoring role. Hopefully he decides playing for Australia is very important because he is a terrific cricketer and we all want to see him playing for Australia as long as possible."
Symonds will be given all the time he needs by Cricket Australia to make a decision on his future. "He has our absolute support and we've already gone to great lengths to ensure appropriate processes are in place for him," James Sutherland, the Cricket Australia chief executive, said. "The feedback I have got from inside the team is that they have dealt with it as a welfare issue. There's some discipline issues related to it, but ultimately it's a welfare issue. We all want Andrew Symonds up and going, playing cricket for Australia."
Currently the only person who does not mind if Symonds returns is Harbhajan Singh. Symonds and Harbhajan were at the centre of the SCG row in January, but a repeat of the match-up is unlikely. "It doesn't bother me whether he is coming or not," Harbhajan said in the Courier-Mail. "We are playing against a team. If he features in it, fine, if he doesn't, things don't change much for me. We may have had our squabbles, but that's all part of the game."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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