The Andrew Symonds saga June 4, 2009

Oops, he's done it again

Despite grace from some of the most powerful people in Australian cricket, the Australian allrounder has failed them. Everybody involved was disappointed, but nobody was shocked that he did it again

Oops, he's done it again. Showing the self control of Britney Spears in her crew-cut phase, Andrew Symonds has fallen off another wagon and been sent home from a tour of England. Now not even a hit album will be able to return his former life as an all-conquering allrounder.

Four years ago Symonds toppled off a wheelie bin at training following an all-nighter before a one-day loss to Bangladesh in Cardiff. This time he slipped a couple of days before Australia's opening World Twenty20 match and will fly home to Australia for meetings that must not be allowed to save his career.

Symonds was at a dinner with Australia's Twenty20 squad at a west London hotel on Wednesday night and was well behaved early in the night. An early-morning trip to watch the State of Origin rugby league changed the circumstances and his travel plans.

James Sutherland, Cricket Australia's chief executive, said the punishment was a result of breaching team rules over the past two days. Some of his personal conditions to his employers were also broken. Sutherland had no reason to be surprised.

In Cardiff in 2005 there were board members who wanted Symonds' contract torn up, but he turned into the country's pet project and has now run out of international lives. Over the past year his continual transgressions, ranging from minor to moderate, have been an embarrassment. The spiral began in the West Indies and then took in Darwin fishing trips, excessive drinking and scuffles in bars. He wore out international and domestic team-mates, rambled and swore during a radio interview and was banned from the tours to South Africa. He had already not been considered for the 2008 trip to India despite developing career-best consistency at Test level.

There were apologies and vows to do better, counselling sessions and more promises. Nothing changed, except his form, which dipped lower than Australia's new budget deficit.

At each step he was given support and with each return there was a relapse. While Symonds has been the easily-forgiven problem child, Cricket Australia have been the parents who actually believed the grunts of apology, thinking only of slammed sixes over midwicket and lifted run-rates when calling him from his room. There have been many mistakes throughout this saga; allowing Symonds to rejoin the national squad was a basic one.

Symonds was not picked in the Ashes squad, which was a good decision, but the move was ruined with his inclusion in the Twenty20 side after an unconvincing tour of the United Arab Emirates. His IPL team's victory prevented Symonds from attending the squad camp in Queensland last month, creating a further disruption, but Ricky Ponting, a staunch supporter, said at the time he still expected the allrounder to be part of the one-day campaign following the England Tests. Not anymore.

Despite grace from some of the most powerful people in Australian cricket, Symonds has failed them. Everybody involved was disappointed, particularly a sad looking Sutherland. But nobody was shocked that he did it again.

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Cliff on June 8, 2009, 22:43 GMT

    Dear Peter, oops, the Aussies are out of the tournament! I wonder why? Hey, you can blame Symonds for being kicked out and upsetting the team! On the other hand if he had been there, as that rarity, to paraphrase Chappelli, a middle order player who can change the course of a match, the Aussies might still be there too. But no, I see your point. It was more important to be able to distinguish between public and private drinking. Within the new team culture, facades are more important than the real thing. The irony is that as a freelance he will earn more than his current contract, and be much happier. Will you and your mates leave him alone now? Of course not, he makes good copy. Oops, I nearly forgot. The Irish are in the semis! As a third generation Irishman, it does me little heart proud! By the way Pete, I thought contracts were personal things, to be kept within the team. Howcome you were the first 'outsider' to find out? Hmmm, interesting that. Opens up a lot of possibilities.

  • Nabeel on June 6, 2009, 12:04 GMT

    In my opinion, Peter English is as harsh on Symmonds as Indian media did in the past when he was invloved in hot exchange of words with Harbajan Singh. Since 2003 CWC, he is a role model for power play on the field. I think the Aussie Board has been very very unfair to him as well. He is labelled as "BAD BOY" by media and every one is judging him on the highest level of moralities from him. Millions of his fans want him in action.

  • Prince on June 5, 2009, 16:45 GMT

    It's shocking to see how much is being made off a harmless incident.Symonds did not use vulgar words against his opponents,he did not bunk team meetings & practice sessions,& he did not get into trouble with anyone.Why so much fuss? It's different,though,if in CA's central contract,it was written:- ...& ANDREW SYMONDS IS NOT ALLOWED TO DRINK ANYTHING OTHER THAN PLAIN WATER & MILK.EVEN THOSE DRINKS MENTIONED SHOULD BE GIVEN TO HIM AFTER PERFORMING CHEMICAL TESTS.

  • Prince on June 5, 2009, 16:37 GMT

    @madmax:-Man,u need to c the fine line between sledging & having a talk with your opponenets.Had Symo spoken vulger stuff,surely he would have been reported.He was having some chat with young Pandey,but it was nothing malicious.& what do u mean by YOUNG ??? If you are Young,does that mean u have to be placed in craddles & talked with love ??? How funny is that ??? Cricket is a MAN's game,there is no place for men who can't handle the heat

  • Pete on June 5, 2009, 16:06 GMT

    I've already said elsewhere that Symonds has been very harshly treated and since so many others have done the same here there's not much else to be said. One thing though - it seems he was prohibited from drinking IN PUBLIC but not in the team hotel or in the dressing rooms and so on. I'm not sure there could be any more damning evidence that CA is more concerned about image than about Symonds's apparent alcohol problem (I'm reluctant to say alcoholism - none of us know if that's appropriate or not). I think this revelation about the unique clause in his contract came after Mr. English wrote this article

  • Kamal on June 5, 2009, 9:53 GMT

    There are lots of extreme comments from supporters and naggers.

    First of all, Symonds is a good player who made a great comeback and showed it in the IPL where he helped his team win the title.

    For supporters, it's not about having a beer at a beloved sports event - its more. I'm sure Symonds rehabilitation process includes AA type No Drinking policy. Apart from that, he represents a great team and sporting nation. During a public event such as this, he represents himself as much as his nation!

    For Naggers, stop treating him as a whipping boy. It's not like he's assaulted someone or broke the law.

    As a fan, I'm disappointed at the guy who I will, most probably not see playing in Aussie colours again. He's also let down his biggest supporter - the Captain.

  • seb on June 5, 2009, 9:42 GMT

    Symonds should have his contract torn up immediately. I would be ashamed, as a Queenslander myself, to ever see him play for the Bulls again.

    No pity, no sympathy - he has had more chances than he deserves and he has blown every one of them.

  • Walter on June 5, 2009, 8:50 GMT

    To everyone crying about the fact that its 'just' a few beers it's not. Symmo has had alcohol problems for a while now and he made promises and vows to better himself. He hasn't, which means dire consequinces. He also has a role modle function within the team being one of the most senior players in a very young team. His actions make an impression on the younger guys as well which also should be taken into consideration. If he can get away with almost anything what will the newer guys think? He's had more than his fair share of let offs and now its time he toughens up and takes his punishment like a man.

    I dont deny hes a greatly talented my book hes not the greatest around but hes up there. But with greatness comes great responsibility....

  • Vijay on June 5, 2009, 8:10 GMT

    Reading the comments I am pleased to see that Symmo has support from many Indians like me, and of course cricket fans all around the world.Why can't society accept that each individual is different.Why do we need to clone them? I must admit my admiration for Symmo is grudging and many would feel that like me many other Indians would love this episode but what has happened to him is just not right. He is a human being for God's sake. He is an individual not a robot.The CA must realize that Oz cricket is what it is because of its characters.Come on guys accept that Symmo is different and give him his space. What should matter is his performance on the field nothing more. After all, he didn't murder anybody, he is only living his life. He is not a menace to society, why treat him like one. Oz cricket, of late, is making all the wrong decisions.

  • Lachlan on June 5, 2009, 6:42 GMT

    Give the guy a break....He is from QUEENSLAND. Of course he was going to watch the State of Origin. It's a part of his culture as a QLDER.

    I think that CA has been way too harsh. Whether or not we need him is irrelevent. We will still win the comp without him, but he has been punished a bit too harshly this time.

    At least QLD beat NSW in the first game and Roy will be back home with his mates to watch QLD win the remaining 2 games.

    Obviously the guys on the CA board are New South Welshmen.

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