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Andrew Symonds has admitted that alcohol played a part in his poor attitude this year and getting axed from the squad in Darwin was the wake-up call he needed to address his behaviour. Symonds also conceded that he had hurt his relationship with his good friend Michael Clarke, the stand-in captain, when the Darwin decision was made.
Speaking for the first time about the reasons that led to his being sent home, Symonds said he had started drinking too much after last season's racism row with the India spinner Harbhajan Singh. Harbhajan was alleged to have called Symonds a monkey during the Sydney Test and was suspended for three Tests but the ban was overturned on appeal.
"At times, I was drinking too much and I wasn't a good bloke to be around," Symonds said on Channel Nine. "I had turned bad, I think, with the buildup of the whole of last summer and the things that had unfolded.
"I wasn't in a great place. Looking back now it probably happened at the right time that I got sent home and told to straighten myself out. I feel much better within myself. Even if I don't come back and play great cricket, I know that I have done something that will improve what I need to be as a person."
It is not the first time Symonds has revealed his trouble with alcohol. In his 2006 autobiography, Symonds recalled the sketchy details of a pub crawl in Cardiff the previous year that led to him being dumped from the side that played Bangladesh the next morning when he turned up at the ground drunk.
Having missed the recent tour of India, Symonds is likely to return to the Test side at the Gabba on Thursday, when Australia take on New Zealand. Symonds has not played a Test since the tour of the Caribbean and it was on that trip that reports emerged of a bar-room argument between him and Clarke.
It was Clarke who tried to help Symonds sober up after his Cardiff bender and on the 2006 tour of South Africa pulled Symonds away from a potential punch-up with a rugby player. But their relationship took another blow when Clarke was a key part of the team leadership group that sent Symonds home from Darwin following his fishing trip and Symonds said he had not treated Clarke, the team's vice-captain, appropriately.
"I did something silly with him one night and I suppose I was a bit disrespectful to him," Symonds said. "That relationship is still alive, but to be perfectly honest it is not what it was. We are both making efforts to get it back to where it was because that's a friendship I don't want to lose."
Symonds knows he cannot afford another behavioural slip-up or "it's not going to be a pretty ending". He made his comeback appearance in Australian colours in the All-Stars Twenty20 match on Friday, when he regained some of his lost form with 45 from 35 balls.