SA in Australia

Symonds out of SA tour

2009-02-03 13:27
Staying home (Gallo Images)
Rob Houwing

Cape Town – The bad boy of Australian cricket will not be bolstering the Baggy Greens’ squad for their return series in South Africa shortly.

Andrew Symonds was on Tuesday ruled out of contention for the three-Test and five-ODI tour because Cricket Australia want the troubled all-rounder to undergo “further rehab and counselling” before becoming eligible for selection again.

It is another setback to embattled captain Ricky Ponting, who had made no secret of the fact that he wanted the hard-nosed Queenslander, 33, to be part of the tour mix, especially with Matthew Hayden now retired and another experienced customer, Stuart Clark, also not coming because of an ongoing elbow problem.

The Cricket Australia board met in Melbourne on Tuesday to make a ruling on Symonds, who courted further controversy last week when, in what seemed a slurry local radio interview that has since received some talk-radio airtime in South Africa as well, he labelled the New Zealand wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum “a lump of sh*t”.

Symonds was fined $4000 for that indiscretion, and it probably did his South African tour prospects little good at a delicate time for him.

He has been in hot water several times before, including turning up drunk before the start of a one-day match on the tour of England in 2005, and “going fishing” more recently instead of attending an official Aussie training session.

Cricket Australia made the point that they had taken into account a national team “management” recommendation that he not be considered, and that Symonds would have to satisfy “formal rehab criteria”.

CA boss James Sutherland said: “(His omission) can be looked at as a sanction, but I would prefer to look at this as a decision in the best interests of Andrew Symonds as well.”

Although he is not enough of a bowling factor to be considered a true Test all-rounder, Symonds is a multi-skilled cricketer who bats aggressively in the middle order, bowls either off-breaks or seamers, and is an electric fielder with a powerful arm who also takes part with relish in Aussie “sledging” tactics when they are on top of sides.

He will be particularly missed for the ODIs and two Twenty20 matches on the South African tour.

Symonds boasts a batting average of 49.33 from five ODIs on South African soil, with a highest score of 76.

He also played in all three Tests on the 2005/06 Test portion of the visit, when the Aussies embarrassingly cleaned up the Proteas 3-0; Symonds scored 55 in the first innings as the Baggy Greens thrashed South Africa by seven wickets in the first encounter at Newlands.

His ineligibility again leaves the Aussies vulnerable in South Africa as the “bully” boot shifts ever-increasingly to the rival foot …


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