ICC World Twenty20 2009 June 4, 2009

White called up to replace Symonds

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Cameron White has been confirmed as Australia's replacement for the ICC World Twenty20, after Andrew Symonds was sent home by the team management for an alcohol-related incident.

White, 25, was a surprise omission from the original squad, seeing as Australia have long fancied his powerful middle-order batting in the 20-over game. He has previously played seven T20Is for his country, scoring a total of 152 runs from 102 balls, with a highest score of 40 not out.

Cricket Australia's request for a replacement player was accepted by the ICC on Thursday evening, and White is due to link up with the squad in the next 24 hours, ahead of their opening fixture against West Indies at The Oval on Saturday.

Despite White's pedigree, Australia's cricketers have conceded that Symonds will be a difficult player to replace in the squad. He is among Australia's most seasoned limited-overs cricketers, and he played a significant role in the closing stages of the IPL to guide Deccan Chargers to the title. His explosive middle-order batting, darting spinners and athletic fielding were integral to Australia's World Twenty20 plans.

"It certainly is a big loss," Michael Hussey said. "With Twenty20 cricket you've got to be really flexible with your batting order anyway, and probably with Andrew Symonds in the team we were a little bit more structured because he plays that role very very well. Now we're going to have to be even more flexible and try and go with the flow of the game.

"It's a real shame, really, because he is a great player and a great mate of mine. It's unfortunate and we've got to move on, we've got to concentrate on the cricket, our preparation and making sure we are 100% ready for West Indies on Saturday. We can't afford to let it affect our preparation. It is definitely a loss for us but we've got other very, very capable players to come in and fill the breach and hopefully we can put in a good performance."

Despite Symonds' repeated behavioural infractions, which have often left the Australians at a loose end in important series, Brett Lee insisted he still had the support of his national team-mates. Lee described Symonds as "the world's greatest guy" and felt he was losing "a great mate on tour".

"To lose a player of his calibre definitely is a big hole in the Australian cricket team so it is disappointing and we hope Andrew can be back shortly," Lee said. "We have to move on now, it's as simple as that. It's very disappointing that Andrew's going home but we'll try to find a way to try and fill that gap. He's a world-class player and to leave a gap like that is not great for the Australian cricket team but we always find a way, if someone gets injured or if someone goes out of the side, to fill that void.

"We are here to focus on cricket. What's happened with Andrew is a very personal blow for him and we'll be as mates sticking by him and making sure that we're giving our best advice and the help he needs."

Nathan Bracken was hopeful Symonds' latest alcohol-related controversy would not force him out of the game. "To say it's the end of his career is a big call," Bracken said. "We enjoy having him around and we hope he will be back shortly."

Like Hussey, Brad Haddin conceded Symonds' absence could upset the balance of Australia's Twenty20 squad. "Obviously Andrew Symonds is a big part of our team," he said. "He was a quality player with a big role to play in our side. It will change the balance of the team, but the beauty of our squad is that we have the players to cover for that."

Stuart Clark, who is not in the Twenty20 squad and will join his team-mates for the Ashes, said there would be mixed feelings in the playing group. "He's a very good player and very important to the team doing well," Clark said on Australian television.

"But there will be that feeling of he's had his chance and maybe it is time that something is done about it. But the overriding feeling will be we all feel sorry for Andrew Symonds because he's our team-mate and friend."

Alex Brown is deputy editor of Cricinfo