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CA’s latest headache

cricket Updated: Aug 31, 2008 23:24 IST

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The enigma called Andrew Symonds is giving a tough time to Cricket Australia (CA) board members, who held serious discussion on the state of the all-rounder's mental state after he was sent back home for breaching team discipline.

Symonds opted to go on a fishing trip Friday on the eve of Australia’s ODI against Bangladesh in Darwin, skipping a compulsory team meeting. Symonds knew that the meeting was on but still decided to go ahead on the expedition. The all-rounder also bypassed an optional training session in the afternoon following which he was sent back home. Symonds had faced a similar action in 2005 Ashes tour after he turned up drunk for a match. But he was then let-off with two match suspension and a warning.

CA board members held an emergency conference call Saturday to discuss the Symonds issue, but have opted not to follow through on a threat in 2005 to tear up his $500,000 contract should he overstep the line again, according to a report in Sunday Telegraph. CA officials were adamant alcohol was this time not behind Symonds' absence, which will see him miss the three-match series and has left a cloud over his participation in the tour of India next month.

It has come out that missing the team meeting was not the only offence which warranted such action against Symonds but there was more to it than meets the eye. “Missing a team meeting is not a hanging offence. We have focussed on a duty of care for Andrew and we are concerned about his mental welfare. He had a long and demanding summer,” a CA source said.

Symonds was struggling to cope with his life in the public eye after a tumultuous year that saw him under fire from the Indian team in the ugly Harbhajan Singh ‘monkey’ race row, sources said.

CA also lost patience with Symonds over his on-field behaviour and repeated public comments and controversial newspaper columns on Harbhajan and the scrapped tour of Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Symonds felt the backlash on Sunday. He told Brisbane’s Courier Mail on Sunday that he was considering his playing future. “I have been asked to think about what is important to me and I will take this time to do that,” Symonds said. “I would ask that during this time, people respect my privacy and that of my friends and family.

“I would like to say thanks for the many messages of support I have received over the past day or so.”

Australian coach Tim Nielsen was left querying Symonds’ state of mind. “They don’t miss a thing and they are always early and presented as well as they possibly can,” Nielsen said of the Australian players. “When somebody hasn’t got the information that they need or hasn’t turned up on time it’s usually due to the fact they’re away from us.