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Back to Ashes: Symonds out

AUSTRALIA selectors showed they've lost patience with Andrew Symonds, omitting the troubled allrounder from the squad to defend the Ashes in England.

Selectors announced the 16-man squad yesterday, 50 days ahead of the series-opening match at Cardiff on July 8.

Andrew McDonald was preferred to Symonds along with Marcus North and Shane Watson, who was picked subject to fitness.

"Andrew McDonald played a very important role in both Australia's victory in the last test match in Australia and on the recent series in South Africa, and has been rewarded with his first Ashes squad selection," chief selector Andrew Hilditch told a news conference in Sydney.

Until the recent limited-overs series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates, Symonds had not played for Australia since the end of 2008 due to a combination of injuries and off-field issues. He had been hoping to force his way back into the test lineup based on his recent good batting form in the Indian Premier League Twenty20 competition in South Africa, but he was increasingly being considered a long shot to make the squad.

"We know how good a player Andrew can be, but the facts are that he went out of the side for reasons last year," Australia captain Ricky Ponting said. "Opportunities were given to others, and the others that have come into those positions have played exceptionally well."

Symonds was stood down from Australia's tour of India last year after he chose to go fishing rather than attend a team meeting during a one-day series against Bangladesh in Darwin. He returned for the test series against New Zealand in Brisbane but an incident at a pub and disparaging comments he made about Kiwi wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum in a radio interview, coupled with injury and poor form, resulted in him being left out of the tour to South Africa.

Pacemen Brett Lee and Stuart Clark, who are both just returning from extended injury layoffs, were selected in a powerful fast bowling battery along with Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus.

Nathan Hauritz was selected as the specialist spinner, although Australia could depend on the part-time spin of North or vice-captain Michael Clarke during the five-test series.

Australia had an upset 1-2 loss in 2005 in England but reclaimed the urn with a 5-0 series drubbing of the English at home in 2006-07.


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