Australian news January 26, 2009

Symonds apologises for McCullum comment

Cricinfo staff

Ricky Ponting thinks Andrew Symonds would see his radio interview as a mistake © Getty Images

Andrew Symonds has apologised publicly for his "a lump of s..." remark about the New Zealand wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum. While Symonds will have to wait until Tuesday or Wednesday to learn whether he will be punished by Cricket Australia for the incident, he has received support from Ricky Ponting, who said the troubled allrounder was essential to Australia's future plans.

"I wish to sincerely apologise to Brendon McCullum for my comments during the radio interview with Roy and HG on Friday afternoon," a statement from Symonds said. "My intentions for this interview were light-hearted and my comments no way reflect the respect that I have for McCullum both on and off the field.

"I understand how this has been received differently to the way in which I intended to express myself and for that I am extremely sorry. I wish Brendon nothing but success in his cricket and for the future." Symonds' offensive comment came when he was discussing McCullum's signing with New South Wales for the final of the domestic Twenty20 competition.

Ponting said he was interested in hearing Symonds' views. "I'd like to have a good conversation with him about the whole situation. As part of the leadership group in the Australian team, it's part of my job to do that," Ponting told AAP. "I know at CA, James Sutherland and Michael Brown have been out of the office and I think they're meeting on the whole scenario on Tuesday, so by then we'll have a much clearer picture.

"I'd like to consider, if I was in that situation, I wouldn't have done that. So Andrew's going to have a look at that radio interview and work out for himself if he's done something wrong. He's not part of our current set-up at the moment, and I don't think there's ever been anything in place to say that he can't actually go out and have a drink. Does he need more rehab? That's up to him and his counsellor to work out."

Ponting hoped the matter would be resolved swiftly. "He has been [vital] for us over the last three or four seasons in one-day cricket and, in the last two in Tests, he's been a vital cog in our side," he said. "No one can ever doubt his cricket ability, talent and match-winning abilities. So hopefully everything keeps progressing with him and his fitness and we can get to the bottom of this issue, move on and let him worry about his cricket."

While the New Zealand Cricket chief executive Justin Vaughan said he expected his Australian counterparts to '"do the right thing", McCullum was happy to let the moment pass. "Mate, people are entitled to their opinion and I certainly wasn't offended by it at all," he said. "There's nothing you can do about it. I was over here [in Australia] to enjoy the occasion and certainly did that and it was just a great game to be a part of. I'm not worried what people have to say and certainly not offended by it at all."

The radio comment is the latest in a series of incidents involving Symonds, the most notable of which was him being axed from the Australian squad in Darwin for going fishing, and a pub altercation after his Test comeback in Brisbane. Symonds had also admitted that alcohol played a part in his poor attitude in 2008 and getting cut from the squad in Darwin was the wake-up call he needed to address his behaviour.

Symonds, who is recovering from knee surgery, will have a chance to prove his fitness for an international comeback during Queensland's Sheffield Shield match against Western Australia at the Gabba from Friday. He was picked in the side alongside Ashley Noffke and Chris Swan, who have also been struggling with injuries, and the 19-year-old debutant Scott Walter.

Queensland squad Chris Simpson (capt), Ryan Broad, Lee Carseldine, Ryan Harris, Chris Hartley, Nick Kruger, Martin Love, Ashley Noffke, Nathan Reardon, Chris Swan, Andrew Symonds, Scott Walter.