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Symonds row splits Aussies

ANDREW Symonds' tenure as Australian cricket's troubled genius is almost certainly over.

The talented allrounder, a renowned match winner, was expected back in Queensland state on the weekend after being sent home from the Twenty20 World Cup in England for yet another alcohol-related incident. Legspinning allrounder Cameron White will replace Symonds. White has played four tests, seven Twenty20 and 28 one-dayers for Australia since 2005.

The team's opening match is today against West Indies.

Symonds dismissal divided opinion among former players.

Cricket Australia declined to say exactly what Symonds did. Domestic media reported he had gone out, without telling team management, to celebrate Queensland's win in the rugby league State-of-Origin series opener on Wednesday.

Dean Jones, who played 52 tests between 1984 and 1992, said Symonds was unfairly treated.

"He just had a beer and supported Queensland's big win over New South Wales. It's a culture in the team that's always been there," Jones was quoted saying.

"Can you imagine that in the old days with Dennis Lillee or Jeff Thomson having to tell the manager where they were going?"

Former Australia wicketkeeper Ian Healy said the fact that Australia's team leadership group, including skipper Ricky Ponting, vice-captain Michael Clarke, made the decision might have an impact on Symonds.


"A punishment dished out by your teammates and peers is a lot more damaging personally than a Cricket Australia sanction," he said. "So this is bad in that he has let the national team down and teammates who were gearing up for a World Cup."

Geoff Lawson, the former Australian test paceman, thought the national selectors had recalled Symonds too quickly after a string of off-field indiscretions that led to him being suspended and fined.

Ponting, who had supported Symonds through prior controversies, hinted that the allrounder had blown his last chance.

"I don't think Cricket Australia could have done any more for him, to tell you the truth," Ponting said. "He's been stood down on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, for him and for us, he's come back in and this has happened again. He's been given plenty of opportunity, that's for sure."

Healy, who played with Symonds at Queensland in the 1990s, said the latest episode could unburden the big allrounder.

"He has always loved a drink and it may have turned into a problem," Healy said. "The other thing is he might just be sick," of cricket.


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