With Australia's supremacy in world cricket threatened more than ever before following their humbling loss to India, former players in Melbourne have called for the return of exiled all-rounder Andrew Symonds to arrest the team's slide.
"Australia's cricket team hit a generational low with its demoralising defeat by a rampaging India -- and now the call has gone up to bring back one player who can make a difference, strapping all-rounder Andrew Symonds," reported the 'Daily Telegraph' in a scathing criticism of the team's performance in the second Test in Mohali which ended in a 320-run defeat for the world champions.
Former coach John Buchanan feels Symonds should be sent to India on the first available flight as only he can galvanise the team after the humiliating defeat.
"There is no question that the Australian side is missing his playing ability and his character. With what has happened in recent times, Andrew is the best person to judge when he is ready to come back. But if somebody went and asked him if he would go to India, I couldn't see him saying no. I reckon he would be over there like a shot," he was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
Buchanan's views were backed by former Test pacer Michael Whitney, who felt Symonds has been punished enough for his 'gone fishing' misdemeanour.
"Roy is such an intimidating character, have a look at him. Our fielding was not up to scratch in the second Test, neither was our batting nor bowling. Roy would certainly add some spice to the series," said Whitney.
The newspaper carried out an online poll in which "70 per cent of Australian cricket fans agreed that Symonds should be on the next plane to India."
Symonds' state-side Queensland's former captain Jimmy Maher said big-hitting all-rounder is the best man to handle the current crisis of confidence in the Australian team.
"I really think Australia need Roy in India, I'd be getting him in the Test side as soon as possible. Symo is a player for a crisis and I'd say, 1-0 down in a four-Test series, that Australia is in crisis," he said.
"He can turn a game in the space of an hour with his batting and his spin bowling would also be very important on turning Indian pitches," he added.
Noted cricket writer Peter Roebuck said it was high time that senior players like Matthew Hayden and Andrew Symonds stand up for their captain Ricky Ponting in tough situations.
"It is time Matthew Hayden and Andrew Symonds started pulling their weight. After all, Ponting remained loyal to Hayden during his unproductive Ashes series in 2005. He has likewise been steadfast in his support for Symonds, persuading the selectors to take him to the 2003 World Cup and keeping faith with him as a Test cricketer longer than anyone else," he wrote in his column for 'The Sydney Morning Herald'.
"Ponting might have lost the intuition evident in his emerging years but he knows cricket and cricketers. All the more reason for the Queenslanders to respond in kind."
Roebuck felt the two senior most members of the squad have not been aiding their embattled skipper with same advice in confrontational situations.
"Symonds has become headstrong while Hayden lost his composure in Mohali. Both were in the thick of the agitation that poisoned the atmosphere at the SCG. It is time to put those frustrations aside, time to answer their captain's call. Now is the time for the team's elders to get back in the ring, or withdraw," he said.