The grind of international cricket made Andrew Symonds feel "caged" and the temperamental Australian all-rounder says his only regret is signing a contract that had a 'keep off drinking' clause in it.
Looking back at his tumultuous career, Symonds said he had stopped enjoying the game and was in fact relieved when Cricket Australia tore up his contract.
"Losing my contract didn't hurt me, because of what playing for Australia had become. I wasn't having fun anymore. I wasn't enjoying it. I felt like I was in a cage. Always under the microscope. Once I had got home from England, and everything had settled down, it was a relief," he said.
Here to play for Surrey, the burly all-rounder with a recurring alcohol problem said he doesn't regret anything other than signing a contract that barred him from drinking.
"If I had my time again I would have said, 'You know what? There is no way I'm signing that.' No one else had to do
it. And let's be honest, under that sort of scrutiny I was always going to bust at some stage," he said.
It was around this time last year that Symonds was sent back midway through the Twenty20 World Cup after going out for a drink. On landing back home, Symonds found himself without a contract but instead of being upset, he felt relieved.
"I was diagnosed as a binge-drinker. With all the things that went with international cricket there was never enough time for myself. So when I got my day off, I would just guzzle it, guzzle it like they weren't making it anymore, just binge.
It was not smart," he said.
"I'm passionate about cricket, but it is not the be all and end all of my life. To me life is about fun. You have got to make a living, but not every day is about work. My life became difficult to lead.
"With the amount of things I had on my plate – cricket, sponsors, media – I just ended up having no time for myself. And that's what wore me down. When I got my chance to have a drink I would let nothing get in the way of it," he added.
Symonds also claimed he was not to be blamed for the bar brawls he often featured in.
"People knew they could target me. Whatever I did and wherever I went I felt there was a chance that someone was going to try and push my buttons. In the end I just couldn't go to the pub," he recalled.
Symonds, who turned freelancer after that and plays in the Indian Premier League, said he is a happier person now.
"Mate, my life right now is just A1. Just great. My mates back home ask me what I'm doing now, and I'm like: 'Well, I'm just going to London to play cricket for a few weeks.' They say: 'What will you do when you come back?' 'I'll probably go fishing for a couple of months.' They can't believe it," he says.