'Regretful' Symonds keen to move on
Andrew Symonds has insisted he will not owe his team-mates anything when he returns to the Australia team on Friday for a Twenty20 match against an All-Stars line-up. Symonds will be part of a side led by Michael Clarke, who was the stand-in captain in Darwin in August, when Symonds was cut from the squad for his ongoing lax attitude.
Clarke was an integral part of the team leadership group's decision to dismiss Symonds following his now infamous fishing trip. For the past couple of months Symonds has undertaken a welfare programme to help him improve his mindset and he is keen to move on rather than looking back at how the situation unfolded.
"I don't really look at life like that," Symonds said. "I made a mistake and I admitted that. No, I'm not going in there to give anything back to them, I just want to make a go of the opportunity I've been given now."
While his Test colleagues were fighting against the tide in the fourth Test in India, Symonds was speaking at the MCG, where he was given a resounding endorsement from Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland. But for a man who swears his off-field attitude has improved, Symonds was unapologetically brusque in answering questions about his comeback.
Few players truly enjoy facing the media but most manage to plough through without any outward displays of annoyance. That has always been extra difficult for Symonds and on the eve of his return to the national setup, his usual sarcasm was on display. When asked if he had addressed his team-mates as a group or apologised to them for his past beheaviour, or whether he planned to do so, he was typically curt.
"They've been in India, as you probably would realise, and I've been here, so it's been quite difficult to do that," Symonds said. "But I have spoken to a number of them over the last couple of weeks.
"You keep going down this apology line. I am regreful for what I did. But at the same time, when people make mistakes ... in my vision it's not about going out and making it up to people. It's about me getting on with it and doing something positive."
It has been just over two months since Symonds' fishing trip in Darwin, not a particularly lengthy period for a man with ten years of international cricket under his belt. But with Australia failing to match India and Shane Watson establishing himself as a Test allrounder, it has seemed like an age for Symonds.
"It's felt like a long time for me," he said. "You've never played cricket for Australia. Being dropped from the team is not a great feeling and I want that back and on Friday night I've been given that opportunity. I'm really looking forward to that, getting back out there with my green and gold jumper on and enjoying a night out with my mates."
The next question for Australia's selectors is whether to rush Symonds back into the Test side for the home series against New Zealand, which begins at the Gabba in less than a fortnight. A 2-0 loss to India has raised issues with the line-up but the No. 6 Watson has been a consistent performer. Symonds said he was hopeful of a call-up but his first-class form has been poor: in three Sheffield Shield outings for Queensland he has made 5, 5, 26, 0, 43 and 1.
"I haven't been scoring many runs have I?" he said. "No, played on some difficult wickets though. Personally I'd like to have scored more runs but I haven't. It's not through lack of trying."
|"If I make another mistake it's not going to be a pretty ending"Andrew Symonds|
Despite his disappointing form, Symonds said he was pleased to be finally moving in the right direction following a tough year. This time last season he had just returned home from an ODI series in India, where he was subjected to monkey chants from the crowd at some venues.
Then came the home series against India, when Harbhajan Singh was suspended for making racist remarks to Symonds before being cleared on appeal. A tour of the West Indies followed and things did not run entirely smoothly there either - Symonds was fined for sleeping in and missing the team bus and there were reports he had fallen out with the vice-captain Clarke. Symonds said the constant touring schedule had taken its toll and he had to determine whether he still had the necessary desire.
"I asked myself the question and I think the thing that I looked at was what comes with playing cricket for Australia and being an Australian cricketer," he said. "I love the challenge of the game out in the middle but there are so many other things that you have to do, being an Australian cricketer, and they were the things that I was thinking about. But I've made that decision now and I can move to give it my all."
Symonds is no stranger to off-field dramas; his most famous in the pre-fishing trip days came on the 2005 tour of England, when he turned up for an ODI against Bangladesh under the influence of alcohol. Now 33, Symonds knows this will be the last chance for him to make the most of his talents at international level.
"If I make another mistake it's not going to be a pretty ending," he said. "I realise that. I've got to be careful but at the same time I've still got to be the player and the person that I play my best cricket doing."
Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo