Test selectors to be told not to pick Andrew Symonds
By Ben Dorries - Daily Telegraph (NSW Metropolitan, 3 February 2009)
|Australia's Test selectors will be advised not to pick Andrew Symonds for the upcoming tour to South Africa.
THE board of Cricket Australia will today be advised to stand down troubled all-rounder Andrew Symonds from international cricket.
A meeting of CA board officials in Melbourne is expected to hear a recommendation from senior staff that Symonds be effectively barred from representing Australia in next month's South African tour.
Top cricket officials have concerns about Symonds' psychological state and want to keep him on a rehabilitation program rather than expose him to the pitfalls of a hostile South African tour.
Symonds' woeful form is also an issue but it is concern over his state of mind - after his rambling, alcohol-fuelled radio outburst against Kiwi batsman Brendon McCullum - that is most pressing.
The Symonds issue, now an official item on the agenda for today's meeting, will be debated among the 14-member board chaired by Adelaide lawyer Jack Clarke.
Many board members still regret the lack of action against Symonds in England in 2005 when the Queenslander turned up drunk for a one-dayer against Bangladesh and was banned for two matches.
Board sources say the most likely course of action is that Symonds will be stood down and a fresh focus put on his rehabilitation program, overseen by several psychologists.
"There will be talk about standing him down from international cricket," one board member told The Daily Telegraph last night.
If the action is confirmed by the board, it is believed the earliest Symonds could return to play for Australia would be the one-day series against Pakistan in April/May.
That series is almost certain not to go ahead as scheduled in strife-torn Pakistan, although it could be shifted to a neutral venue.
The Symonds decision comes a day after it was revealed captain Ricky Ponting will be forced to miss Australia's next two one-day matches against New Zealand because of Cricket Australia's contentious "rotation policy".
The break could not come at a worse time for Ponting, who faces mounting questions about his captaincy as his side trails New Zealand 1-0 in the one-day series.
Former Australian captain Steve Waugh warned that international players were taking advantage of more opportunities and they had to be careful in taking breaks from national duty.
"(With) the players choosing to play the IPL and choosing all these other opportunities, there's got to be question marks thrown up when people say they want to rest," Waugh, who was never rested as captain, said.
"They're committing to play more cricket.
"Really, Ricky is the only one who can answer that - is he mentally and physically fatigued, is he better off having a couple of games (out), will he come back fresher and stronger for the team?"
Ponting defended the move, revealing it wasn't his choice.
"I wanted to play on through the coming week and continue to lead the team in the series against New Zealand," Ponting said. "However the decision was made by the national selection panel as part of their plan to rest all players at appropriate times during this year."
While Ponting will return to the side sooner rather than later, Symonds may be pitchforked into the international cricket wilderness, representing stern action by the board at a time when Australian cricket is at a rocky low.
Ponting wants Symonds to play in South Africa, as his depleted team desperately needs experienced henchmen for one of the most challenging tours in world cricket.
But there is a prevailing view that Symonds can only return when there is evidence that he has dealt with his behavioural problems. | End