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August 31, 2008
Andrew Symonds is committed to forcing his way back into the Australia team but whether that is possible for October's tour of India is uncertain, according to his agent Matt Fearon. Symonds was thrown out of the squad in Darwin after missing a team meeting because he went fishing.
It was only a misdemeanour but it was the last straw for a team leadership group that was already concerned about Symonds' dedication and frame of mind following several other incidents. Symonds flew home to Brisbane while his colleagues took on Bangladesh on Saturday and he said in a statement on Sunday that he had taken on board his team-mates' concerns.
"I have had some time to reflect on the events that took place in Darwin," Symonds said. "I would like to say thanks for the many messages of support that I have received over the past day or so. I appreciate your best wishes. I've been asked to think about what is important to me and I will take this time to do that."
Fearon told Cricinfo the allrounder was pondering his attitude and his future. "Andrew's going to take some time to reflect on what's happened," Fearon said. "He's still committed to playing cricket at the highest level. How he goes about doing that and how it plays out I don't know. Whether it means India I don't know."
It has been an eventful year for Symonds, who among other things was at the centre of a racism row with India's Harbhajan Singh in January. Although his Australia team-mates would love to have him on board for the upcoming Test tour, they know his value to the team is diminished if he is not focused.
"He's had success there and is a very good player of spin and that is important," Michael Hussey told AAP. "He's not going to be built up with pressure with the spinners where it's dot ball after dot ball, which is going to be important when we get to India.
"[On Saturday] I thought, gee it would be great to have Symo here to come in and smack a few to put the pressure back on the Bangladeshi bowlers a bit. But it's the way it is. Maybe if Andrew Symonds was playing and he's not 100% committed he's not going to be able to give his best, so we want someone to come in and give their best."
Paul Marsh, the chief executive of the Australian Cricketers' Association, said the latest incident was unexpected but the ACA would do everything it could to get him back into the Australia team. "It was a surprise," Marsh said, "but there were issues last summer that have been well documented.
"Our role is obviously we're here to support Andrew. We've been in discussion with his manager and look to put in place the best possible support for him."
Australia maintain that a break from the game is in Symonds' best interests as well as for the good of the team, although nobody knows how long his lay-off will be. His attitude over the past few months has troubled the squad's senior figures and the coach Tim Nielsen said the fishing expedition was simply a trigger point.
"They [usually] don't miss a thing and they are always early and presented as well as they possibly can," Nielsen said. "When somebody hasn't got the information that they need or hasn't turned up on time it's usually due to the fact they're away from us and the group a little bit, mentally. That always raises concerns."
While Cricket Australia said it would do whatever it could to help Symonds, the unusual situation means it is not clear what he must do to prove his commitment. "There's no prescribed, exact process for these sorts of things," Marsh said. "We just need to get to the bottom of things and work out what's the best way to move forward."
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