Another chance for forgiven Symonds
Andrew Symonds has been told he must perform to keep his place in the Australian side following his recall for the Pakistan limited-overs series. Andrew Hilditch and his selectors have given Symonds, who they rate "one of our all-time best one-day players", another chance to show he has recovered from a spate of off-field problems over the past year.
Symonds, 33, was chosen for the contest in the United Arab Emirates along with Brett Lee and Shane Watson, who are returning from injuries. While Symonds gained a clearance from Cricket Australia to be selected, he struggled for runs with Queensland late in the summer after knee surgery.
Hilditch indicated Symonds' form was an issue and the allrounder has been left in no doubt of his position. "From a playing perspective he's obviously not performed domestically as well as we or he would have liked, so we really had to make a decision on giving him an opportunity to see how he was going prior to the Twenty20 World Cup," Hilditch told AAP. "We thought it was the right way to go, but as I've told Andrew it will be up to him from now on, he's going to have to perform."
Symonds said he was grateful for the chance to play for Australia again. "That's not something I've ever taken for granted so it's going to be pretty rewarding to be a part of the side considering I've worked hard to get back," he said. "I've been doing some training and have also had a bit of down-time recently so I'm feeling pretty fresh for cricket again. It's going to be a tough little tour and it will be great to be a part of it."
His behaviour will continue to be monitored, but Hilditch said it was the right time for his return. "He'll be an important player at the T20 World Cup and, with Brett, he's been out of cricket for a while now," he said. "We'd like him back around the squad as soon as we can get him." The series begins in the UAE on April 22 and concludes on May 7.
Symonds, who hasn't turned out for his country since December, has played 193 ODIs and has not lost a match in his two World Cups. He received strong support during his rehabilitation from Ricky Ponting and other senior Australian players, which contributed to him not giving the game away completely.
"He's a very important player in our overall set-up," Ponting told AAP. "Yes, he is working through his fair share of issues and everything. But once he gets back around us then I'm sure that he'll have an impact on our team with his on-field performances. At the end of the day, that's why he has been picked.
"We've all been 100 per cent behind him to try to help him through wherever we can, as mates and as teammates. I'm pretty sure he'll be like he was when he came back in during the Australian summer. He sat back and went about his business, trained hard, worked hard. He didn't come back in and take anything for granted in the change room either. He sat back and waited for guys to talk to him. I'm sure he'll be the same way again."