Andrew Symonds: "I'm looking forward to the challenge of taking up cricket again for my club, state and country, hopefully"
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Andrew Symonds has confirmed he wants to fight back into the Australia side after what he conceded was irresponsible behaviour that led to him being cut from the squad in Darwin last month. Symonds joined his Queensland team-mates at training in Brisbane on Tuesday and declared his intentions to return to top-level cricket.
"I'm going through the process of trying to improve and become not only a better cricketer but a better person," Symonds said. "I'm looking forward to the challenge of taking up playing cricket again for my club, state and country, hopefully."
Symonds was unable to say when he would play again but he admitted his attitude over the past few months had been far from ideal. It was the first time Symonds had spoken publicly since he was sent home from Darwin, where he went fishing when he should have been at a team meeting.
That was the latest in a string of incidents that caused concerns in the Australia squad over his commitment to the team. He conceded the grind of constant touring had taken its toll and he was reluctant to make the Darwin trip after a rare couple of months at home.
"What wears us out is the long seasons and you don't get that time at home," Symonds said. "I was really enjoying my time at home. You don't want to pack your port and go again because you're so used to being at home and you're enjoying that - that's what I was going through."
Prior to his time off, Symonds was on Australia's two-month tour of the West Indies, when he was fined for missing the team bus one morning. The Australian also reported that in another incident on that trip Symonds had a heated argument with Michael Clarke, the vice-captain, when Clarke found Symonds drinking in a bar with Brian Lara and questioned whether Symonds should have been there.
Symonds did not refer to any specific occurrences and said he was only looking forward. "I've got a bit of improving to do and I've let some people down," he said. "It's not trying to make it up to people, it's starting again and getting it right."
In 2005, Symonds had a much publicised stumble when he turned up on the morning of an ODI in Cardiff under the influence of alcohol. He was 30 at the time and his development as a player in the following years suggested it might have been a career-defining moment. In fact, Symonds said he was too slow to learn from his mistakes.
"I do live each moment as it comes but I probably do need to put a bit of thought into some of the things I'm doing," he said. "I'm in a position of responsibility and I can't live irresponsibly. I've realised that. It's probably taken me longer than I should have."
Following the Darwin fishing trip, he was told to go home and undertake a Cricket Australia-organised rehabilitation programme so he could reassess his attitude. Symonds did not elaborate on what the process involved, although counselling is believed to be part of Cricket Australia's requirements for him.
"I'm going through a confidential, professional process in order to help me make better decisions and become a better person," he said. "It's unknown to what my direct future will be, but I'm committed to playing cricket."
Symonds will watch the upcoming Test tour of India from home having not been considered for the squad. He said there was no time-frame set on his return but his words will give Australia hope that he could be back in the national setup soon.
Following the decision to stand Symonds down there was speculation that he could permanently walk away from Test cricket and focus solely on his seven-figure IPL deal. Instead, he made a public apology to his team-mates, his family and cricket fans, and said he would not be looking back.