ICC World Twenty20 June 4, 2009

Team-mates rue loss of 'flexible' Symonds


Andrew Symonds is believed to be contemplating retirement after being ordered home from the ICC World Twenty20 for an "alcohol-related incident" that has thrown Australia's tournament plans into disarray.

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland announced Symonds' contract was under review, but Cricinfo understands the allrounder may jump before he is pushed. The developments come after the Australian team's leadership group - consisting of Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, Tim Nielsen and Steve Bernard - recommended to Cricket Australia's board that Symonds be withdrawn from the World Twenty20 for drinking while watching the State of Origin rugby league match on Wednesday morning.

While not a serious offence in isolation, Symonds' alcohol consumption contravened the conditions of a personal contract struck with Cricket Australia following a string of behavioural infractions. It is understood the terms of the contract have left Symonds feeling restricted and, according to one confidante, "no longer knowing how he can fit into the Australian team".

Ponting, speaking at a hastily convened press conference at The Oval, said Symonds had let down his employers, his teammates and himself.

"There's no doubting Andrew's capabilities as a player, but there are other things happening around him that made the decision we've come to a relatively easy one," Ponting said. "This is not wholly and solely about Andrew Symonds. This is about the Australian cricket team. We've got some young guys who are just finding out what international cricket is all about. This is about the bigger picture and bringing on the next generation of Australian players."

Though Symonds is not disputing the decision to withdraw him from the World Twenty20, he is apparently keen to tell his side of the story, and is expected to wait until he lands in Australia before speaking.

Various reports have suggested Symonds' drinking became problematic during Australia's recent limited-overs tour of the UAE, and again after the Twenty20 warm-up match against New Zealand on Tuesday. But it was the "several beers" imbibed in the company of several team-mates while watching the State of Origin that is believed to have prompted Australia's leadership group to act, and push Symonds' career to the brink.

Symonds attended a PCA dinner with the Australian Twenty20 squad at a Kensington hotel on Wednesday night, but was a notable absentee at Australia's training session at The Oval on Thursday. He was due to return to Australia on Thursday night, and a source close to the player told Cricinfo a retirement announcement could be imminent.

"He is feeling like a square peg in a round hole," the source said. "It got to a stage where he had to make these commitments if he wanted to be selected for Australia. He knows he has put himself in this position, but there is no doubt he is struggling with it."

Following a series of misdemeanours in the past 12 months, Symonds was on a final warning from Cricket Australia. Senior figures within CA pushed for his contract to be torn up after the "gone fishing" incident in Darwin last year, and Sutherland yesterday told reporters in Melbourne the allrounder's contract was "under review".

"Tonight we have also advised him that we will take the [contract] offer off the table at this stage," Sutherland said. "In isolation, the breaches that I am talking about are not serious, but in the scheme of things, in the scheme of history, they are enough for it to be the final straw. I'm disappointed in Andrew, but I'm also disappointed for Andrew. I'm sad about it."

Symonds has been involved in numerous off-field incidents in recent seasons, most notably a pre-match drinking session in Cardiff in 2005 which led to him being stood down from Australia's limited-overs team barely an hour before a match against Bangladesh. He also missed a team meeting to go fishing during a one-day series against Bangladesh in Darwin last year, which prompted team management to send him home and CA to arrange psychological counselling.

An altercation with Clarke on last year's tour of the West Indies further frayed tensions between Symonds and the team management, and a drunken radio interview in January - in which he referred to the New Zealand wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum as "a piece of s..." - resulted in him receiving a fine and further disciplinary action. Symonds apologised, having admitted that alcohol was a problematic influence in his life, and he subsequently stated that he was "entering the final chapter of his career".

Despite retaining his central contract only last month, Symonds was omitted from Australia's Ashes squad in favour of Andrew McDonald and Shane Watson. After 26 Tests and 198 ODIs dating back to November 1998, it is hard to see how his career can possibly recover from this latest episode.

Alex Brown is deputy editor of Cricinfo. Inputs from Andrew Miller and Peter English

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Alex on June 6, 2009, 1:48 GMT

    i really think this is the war between pup clarke (future captain) vs symmonds.

  • Deccan on June 5, 2009, 16:31 GMT

    It was insipid and lack of charcter from cricket australia to have done something like this. We always knew the selfish ricky, pup and others in team. That is one reason why Matt hayden and Gilly have resigned. It was a total setup by these so called friends. Symmo should have known better to trust in these lame guys. What a bunch of losers. You can beer in the dressing room but not at a ball game? You can have a beer with friends, and that exactly waht symmo had done. I dont blame him. He has stood by his character and he came out with some match winning performances in IPL. That is what counts, not having beer and losing ashes does not bring cricket australia any fame. they should sack tim nielsen for thos atrocious behavior and controversial handling of Symmo. Gilly gave him a test of character, he also worked with Gibbs. When he himself vouched for these guys, you know what Im sayin? It was a setup. Ricky and Pup and Tim Nielsen did it.

  • Pete on June 5, 2009, 15:00 GMT

    Anyone who looks into it properly can see that Symonds has been gradually pushed out of the team because he fails to present the image his employers want to project. If you look over his history there's very little - Cardiff excluded - that warrants the treatment he's recieved. It's happened before in Australian cricket and will no doubt happen again. I'm not sure if I'm completely changing the subject though when I ask what Brad Hodge has to do to make the team. I don't like the guy - his feeling of entitlement grates on me - but surely he's the man to call right now. Maybe if he dyed his hair blonde like Clarke or Cam White?

  • Edmond on June 5, 2009, 14:05 GMT

    The reason why the Ozzies were world beaters for years was simply because they were a TEAM & supported each other thru thick & thin, they stood by each other with conviction - I am afraid to say that is not the case anymore. Why would his so called mates sit next to him and watch him drink a beer or two - knowing full well that it would get him in trouble - mates don't let friends drink & drive! so why didn't his mates stop him??? It is simple the current crop of Ozzie cricketers are not team players!

    Symonds doesn't fit into their so-called clean cut image and has been pushed to the brink with them knowing all too well that he will fail! There are many way to support someone - but to set him up & crucify him in public is simply not cricket.

  • Sekou on June 5, 2009, 12:23 GMT

    If anyone who knows him reads this please pass this message on - SYMONDS WOULD BE WELCOLMED IN THE WEST INDIES!!

    Ideal fit - no joke. He is a lot less disciplined than Nash but much more talented.

    I have heard off some WI greats 'having a few' before some of their best innings - performance is what matters.

    If he stays in Austalia, he has to play by Auzzie rules. I can only dream of what he would do for WI cricket and the level of interest in the game there.

  • pradeep on June 5, 2009, 11:44 GMT

    What sort of guys do the Australian team have..trying to choke players like school kids..once he missed team bus they gave him a dressing ,and it seems this doesn't happen to everyone,things are only meant to happen to him as it seems

  • Prajit on June 5, 2009, 8:36 GMT

    Andrew Symonds is one of the finest all rounders the game has seen. A fine utility cricketer. I guess, everyone has a unique personality, and Andrew sure liked his privacy, his friends and his sports. Nothing wrong there. By being a celebrity, however, changes the equation, the needs of the hour, being in public, demands the individual to compose himself, smile and mingle, when you're tired and in need of a drink. This is where Andrew went wrong, and he wanted to go back to his comfort zone, which by now, was far too exposed, with constant media publicity, and everything he did, was highlighted in a negative way. I personally, like a lot of overseas Indians, loved watching Andrew Symonds play, and would hope he comes back stronger.

  • Chris on June 5, 2009, 7:24 GMT

    Roy has not been the same player since CA did nothing about him being racially villified. This is no excuse for his behaviour, but there is no doubt CA 'ssoft hearted handling of this issue would have contributed to his current state of mind.

    Thanks for the memories Roy and all the best for the future.

  • Garth on June 5, 2009, 7:01 GMT

    Who Cares, Thats the problem with sport Teams now days, the poor guys cant even have a beer after a game together anymore, thank goodness for the IPL uniting players Symonds and Gibbs Should get together and start a drinking league

  • andrew on June 5, 2009, 6:23 GMT

    Does anyone get the irony and hypocrisy implicit in Cricket Australia disciplining a player for drinking while making millions of dollars from advertising and promoting beer drinking? Every child who watches the cricket gets the message on TV that the Australian team supports beer drinking. I suppose Ricky Ponting will tell us about poor old Andrew Symonds letting the team down whilst wearing a VB cap at the same time. Cricket Australia is part funded by beer drinking. Andrew Symonds should be their pin-up boy!

  • No featured comments at the moment.