Andrew Symonds, Australia’s new force

May 27th, 2008 - 3:51 pm ICT by admin  

Melbourne, May 27 (IANS) Andrew Symonds is Australia’s new Mr Reliable. He has come a long way since his fall-out with captain Ricky Ponting after his drunken binge three years ago. As for his cricket, he is no longer a batting wildcard. Instead, he scripted a remarkable turnaround and steered Australia to victory in the first Test against West Indies. Symonds of today is totally different from the one who hit rock bottom in 2005. Then he was almost sent home from England in disgrace when he turned up drunk on the morning of a one-dayer against Bangladesh in Cardiff. That incident was a turning point in Symonds’ life and he has rarely looked back since.

Symonds’ importance to the Australian team was never felt more than in the first Test at Sabina Park, Kingston, where the Queenslander defied history and batted against heavy odds to pull the side out of trouble.

Australia were off to their worst start to a Test innings in 72 years when the scoreboard read 18 for five. Symonds’ defiant 79 repelled an irresistible West Indies fast-bowling battery.

Symonds anchored a remarkable recovery that saw Australia finish their second innings all out for 167, setting the Windies a challenging 287 to secure a victory. The home team fell short by 95 runs and Australia are one-up in the three-Test series.

The Australian top-order batting is looking more fragile than ever. Justin Langer has retired and Matthew Hayden and Michael Clarke are out of the team. Cracks in the batting line-up surfaced during the summer when Indian seam bowlers took pride in opening it up time and again during Tests and one-dayers. Symonds came as a saviour there also.

In times of crisis in recent times, Symonds has stood solid and came across as a sole protector of never-say-die Australian will. The team members have noted the contribution from the burly all-rounder.

“He completely understands his role in the game and is such a destructive player, but he can also play within himself,” Brad Hodge said.

Symonds’ innings at Sabina Park had nothing like the flair, fire or colour of his breakthrough Test century in 2006, when he combined with his Queensland mate Matthew Hayden to hit a fabulous 156 against England at the M

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