November 14, 2008

Australian cricket

Symonds question not so simple

Brydon Coverdale

The selectors have only confused the issue by naming Andrew Symonds in a 13-man squad for the first Test against New Zealand, Greg Baum writes in the Age. He believes they should have picked Symonds in a fixed role or not at all.

As a player, Symonds was obliged at least to appear to take Australia's matches against Bangladesh in August seriously. Instead, he went fishing, incurring the wrath of teammates and a suspension. Since, he has undergone a program of rehabilitation that sometimes has seemed too earnest to be taken seriously. Yesterday, chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch called it a "prescribed plan", making it sound like a course of chemotherapy.

Be that as it may, he has been pronounced cured. Announcing this to a press conference last week, Symonds was affronted, belligerent and unapologetic, so affirming that his state of mind was indeed normal. Be that as it may, too. But in six first-class innings for Queensland this season, he has passed five only twice, and not made a half-century. Bowling, he has taken five wickets. It is scarcely irresistible form.

Robert Craddock in the Daily Telegraph considers a question the selectors have not had to ask until now - who is the better option, Symonds or Shane Watson?

Their styles as players are as different as the men themselves. Symonds is what the psychologists call a "Mozzie", an instinctive player who admits he plays best when he doesn't think too much about his game. Former Australia coach John Buchanan used to give Symonds permission to throw his computer printouts into the garbage bin. His technique may not have textbook purity but at his best he has the eye of the pig hunter he likes to be when cricket is not calling.

Watson is a more of a thinking type who has one of the game's best batting techniques - so good that he has even had to work on it becoming less than perfect so he can improvise in one-day cricket. Some days, such as the last of the series in India, Watson bowls as well as anyone in the team. Other days he looks vulnerable.

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Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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