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November 26, 2008
Andrew Symonds has apologised to his team-mates for the events of the past few days after being cleared of any wrongdoing by Cricket Australia. Symonds is free to keep playing, including in Friday's Adelaide Test against New Zealand, having avoided punishment for an incident in which a member of the public was alleged to have thrown punches at Symonds in a Brisbane pub on Sunday.
"I maintain that I acted appropriately while at the hotel, but I regret making the decision to visit the hotel as I realise I put myself in a compromising position," Symonds said in Adelaide on Wednesday. "I have told my team-mates that I am sorry to have put them through this distraction at a time when they are trying to prepare for a Test match so soon after the Brisbane game, particularly those who were also at the hotel and were named in media reports."
Symonds has effectively been on a final warning since his Cardiff pub crawl in 2005. After that incident, in which he turned up on the morning of an ODI still drunk, he was told by James Sutherland, the chief executive of Cricket Australia, that another off-field indiscretion would result in him losing his contract.
That threat was not carried out this year, when Symonds' fishing trip and other behavioural issues were treated as a welfare concern. Sutherland said he was "totally satisfied" that Symonds had acted appropriately by not retaliating at the Normanby Hotel on Sunday. "Andrew did nothing wrong, in fact he coped with a difficult and challenging situation well," Sutherland said.
Several of Symonds' team-mates were reportedly angry that Symonds had been drinking in a busy pub having just completed his first Test since being welcomed back into the side. The incident also came only a week after Symonds admitted on national television that he had sometimes been drinking too much during the past year.
Symonds said he would not rule out visiting hotels in the future but he would be more careful about when and where he would do so. His manager Matt Fearon said there could be merit in Symonds keeping a lower profile for the time being. "Maybe faced with the choice, it's not an option for him to be out socialising at this time," Fearon told the Courier-Mail. "But they are the lessons he needs to look at and make choices on. He regrets this, there is no question."
Paul Marsh, the chief executive of the Australian Cricketers' Association, agreed that Symonds had handled the situation well and he said there was nothing wrong with Symonds declining to pose for a photo, which reportedly led to the altercation. "He has a policy that he is not going to have his photo taken in a bar," Marsh said in the Sydney Morning Herald. "People don't always understand that, but I don't see what is wrong with that."
Steve Waugh, the former Australia captain, said it might be in Symonds' interests to accede to requests for photos and autographs in the future. "My philosophy is don't look down on people who look up to you," Waugh told the Daily Telegraph. "Sometimes you are larger than life to people, they might have only seen you on TV or whatever, you have to be polite.
"Most of the time the easier option is to give the person their autograph or have the picture taken. It takes longer to say no than just to oblige with a fan's request - as long as the person is respectful. If they aren't respectful, it can be a delicate situation but you just have to back out of it before it becomes a problem. How you handle that makes the difference. If someone gets a bit aggressive you just have to shrug your shoulders and walk away."
It has also been reported in the Australian that Symonds had struggled so much with his fame that earlier this year he offered to take a pay cut of $250,000 to avoid all off-field commitments. Cricket Australia reportedly turned down the offer, which came after Symonds became the highest-paid non-Indian player in the IPL.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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