Harsha Bhogle talks to cricketers and administrators

'It got to the point where I did not want to be in the side'

Part three: Andrew Symonds talks about his disillusionment about playing for his country (00:00)

October 4, 2010


'It got to the point where I did not want to be in the side'

October 4, 2010

Ricky Ponting and Andrew Symonds take questions during a press conference, Adelaide, November 26, 2008
"For me, life is not all about cricket. I was finding it difficult to enjoy myself in that environment, which was leading me to drink and then not make sensible decisions" © Getty Images

Harsha Bhogle: That was something you always wanted to do, to play for Australia, so when the time came to say no to Australia, that couldn't have been easy?

Andrew Symonds: Yes, I think there was more to that. There was conflict, there was politics, there were rules that have been broken, there were side contracts, and there were lots of other things involved. The whole sort of feeling in that side was changing. Compared to what I was used to.

For me, life is not all about cricket, cricket and cricket. I was finding it difficult to enjoy myself in that environment, which was leading me to drink and then not make sensible decisions. So I suppose in the end the bearings of the wheel were starting to wear, the wheels were going to fly off at some point, and it did. I was sort of asked, given the choice, that if I wanted to work my way back into the side then I could. But it got to the point where I did not want to be in the side.

HB: But it was childhood dreams...

AS: Yes, but the dream had changed, Harsha. The dream was one thing when I made the side. When I got into the side, when I was part of it, I was living the dream. But then, at the same time, I think the team was changing. I might have been changing a bit too, but things were changing and me and my dream were starting to separate. The dream wasn't what I woke up to. I woke up one day, and I thought, "You know what - this isn't originally what I was enjoying." Something is not right here, something has changed.

HB: Did it sometimes cross your mind then that you could have given an inch in terms of conforming and you might have gone a mile on the cricket ground?

AS: I did. I did give an inch in some areas, probably didn't in others. Like, I signed a contract that no one else signed. I was held to ransom - if I did not sign then I could not play for Australia. That's the only regret that I really have: that I should never have signed that contract.

HB: Have you finished playing for Australia a satisfied man? Is there a little bit of ill will or a little bit of rancour involved, or are you completely at peace with yourself?

AS: I am at peace with myself. I look at the TV or I see something on the back of the newspaper - I don't want to be there anymore. I don't get that "wish I was there" feeling. Like you get that when you are injured. You might be at home, you are injured, and you see the boys on the news or something, and you wish you were there, but I don't get that feeling.

"I could stay in bed, I could get up, I could hook the boat up and go fishing, I could drive and see a mate. I could literally go and do whatever I wanted to do" On life out of the Australia side

HB: That's strange, because playing for Australia is one of the biggest honours in the game.

AS: Yes, but everyone's No. 1 thing changes. You see, when blokes get married, and when they have their first child or whatever, cricket takes a very distant back seat to their wife and child. That's their choice and that's right. That can be wrong, that can be whatever you want. That's the choice that man gets. I have had some choices but now I am happy.

HB: So you are happy with life as you see it now - doing a little bit of commentary, doing a little bit of television work like this, playing Twenty20 cricket where you want to, and finally, if you are happy, then that's what you want in life.

AS: Yes. I mean, I have been away from home for 15-18 years of my life. When I was removed from that side, I had nearly a year at home doing my own thing and playing in the IPL for a full season, and I enjoyed it. I felt complete freedom. I could wake up in the morning and I could literally do whatever I wanted to do. I could stay in bed, I could get up, I could hook the boat up and go fishing, I could drive and see a mate. I could literally go and do whatever I wanted to do. I have never had that feeling before, and it was great. I really enjoyed it. You know, people said to me, "You look so relaxed, you look healthy, you look happy…"

HB: You've always looked healthy, Andrew. [laughs]

AS: [laughs] Well, you know what I mean, right… in the face, you know. That's what people said: I looked happy and that was how I felt.

In parts four through six, airing on the 5th of October, Symonds talks about Sydney 2008, John Buchanan, mental disintegration and more

Posted by squidhead on (October 4, 2010, 11:51 GMT)

Yep, what BigBanger said. It's a shame we won't see his like in the Aussie team again and the game as a whole is just a little less special without him. For a man who has every right to be angry at, well, a helluva lot of people he does seem remarkably at peace with himself and his place in the world. I'm glad he is being given the chance to set a few things straight. Well done too Mr. Bhogle, fine interview, am looking forward to the second half.

Posted by Bigbanger666 on (October 4, 2010, 9:06 GMT)

Glad to see he is happy. The Aus team made a monster mistake not supporting him and forcing him out. He was a match winner!!. They have been on the slide ever since, and need his old school style and X factor. A total gun, who was probably Aus most popular cricketer. Miss him heaps.

Posted by HEARTOUT on (October 4, 2010, 8:03 GMT)

Hi Harsha,

I must congrat you for being so nice and evil at the same time and still felt that you have been so humble to him and things have been revealed further if you squeez little more..........Being an IndoPak fan i can remember so muchh which have been out on our players and now we hae good chane to payback all those misdoings or change future attitudes towards our players. Anyways nice efforts and would appreciate if you continue with some other players of UK and SA to put more salt and pepper towards coorrection of behavior wiht our youngsters.

Posted by sonyraj on (October 4, 2010, 6:41 GMT)

Here is a man who speaks his heart. And here is a man who knows how to ask the right questions to bring out the man behind the facade. The interview opened up new dimensions of Symonds that one could only imagine. And that's the difference between a great interviewer and a mediocre one, I suppose. Good work, Harsha.

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