It all started over a bar tiff for Symonds

September 12th, 2008 - 7:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Harbhajan SinghSydney, Sep 12 (IANS) Andrew Symonds must be wondering what hit him after heing dropped from the Australian squad for the four-Test series in India. He must be ruminating his own words he uttered during the Harbhajan Singh appeal hearing last summer: “A Test match is no place to be friendly with an opposition player”.Symonds and vice-captain Michael Clarke were cricket’s most effective offside fielding team and got on well socially, but things got soured of late, reports The Australian.

The pair allegedly had a blow-up in a hotel bar in the West Indies. Clarke, the team’s vice-captain and one of the more dedicated cricketers on or off the field, chipped Symonds one night when he found him drinking in the bar with former West Indies great Brian Lara.

He is said to have suggested that Symonds had better be in good shape to take the field the next day, a suggestion not taken in good humour.

Symonds blew up and the pair had a very heated argument. They later patched things up, but relations have again become strained with Clarke leading the charge to have the belligerent all-rounder sent home from Darwin last month and placed on notice about his cricketing future.

The Australian team has been concerned about Symonds for some time, but things have grown worse of late and missing a team meeting for a fishing expedition was the last straw.

When disciplined by his peers, Symonds showed no contrition.

“I have had some time to reflect on the events that took place in Darwin,” Symonds said a few days after his ejection. “I would like to say thanks for the many messages of support that I have received over the past day or so. I appreciate your best wishes. I’ve been asked to think about what is important to me and I will take this time to do that.”

No matter how hard you read his prepared statement you will find no apologies, expressions of regret or acknowledgment that he may have erred. He did, however, go as far as to suggest that it would be nice if he was left alone.

Symonds was sent away to work through a “process” before being readmitted to the side but has shown little interest in it.

Cricket Australia has refused to spell out what those processes are, suggesting it is a welfare issue, but Symonds is believed to have been instructed to seek psychological help and to keep fit, presumably by training with Queensland. There was little sign of him doing either, although he has been put in contact with a psychologist with whom he has dealt before.

Symonds has been on a holiday with his parents and girlfriend and only returned home Thursday. He is expected to show up at Queensland training next week.

Instead of playing four Tests in India, Symonds will have to concentrate on state cricket and his mental state. If he can manage both he might make it back for the summer. He does not, it appears, respond well to criticism or disciplinary action and has complained he is being singled out when others cross the line too.

When Symonds showed up drunk before a one-day match against Bangladesh in Cardiff in 2005, he infuriated captain Ricky Ponting on two fronts.

The captain was upset that he would be so “disrespectful to himself, his team-mates, his opponents and his country by turning out in that state”. Writing in his Captain’s Diary, Ponting said he became even more angry with the way Symonds reacted when told he was out of the game.

“‘Right’, was his response,” Ponting wrote. “But he said it in such a casual ’see-if-I-care’ way that it wound me up even more.”

Ponting turned to Adam Gilchrist and said “he can go home” before storming off.

Symonds’ reaction to being fined during the recent West Indies tour grated with team-mates, too.

Stung $3000 for missing the team bus, he became what one person described as “the rule Nazi” and would ensure he was on the team bus five minutes before it was due to leave.

At the exact time of departure, Symonds’ watch would beep and he would announce that the doors had to close and the bus had to leave and anybody left behind could walk or be fined because that was the way he was treated.

His relationship with Cricket Australia has been strained for some time as Symonds is still upset at reports that a number of board members wanted him sacked over the 2005 incident.

Team-mates are convinced he had to be disciplined for his attitude in Darwin for they feared what would happen should Symonds be in the same state during the Indian tour.

This time last year Symonds arrived in India, sledged the locals about their Twenty20 World Cup celebrations, clashed with a number of players on the field and then looked to the stands to find fans taunting him with monkey chants. Things went downhill from there and don’t seemed to have recovered since.

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