Media and fans on Friday called for the end of troubled allrounder Andrew Symonds’ international cricket career after his latest disgrace in being ordered home from Australia’s tour to England on disciplinary grounds.
Symonds’ top-level career appeared over after Cricket Australia pulled him out of the World Twenty20 tournament on Thursday for breaking team rules.
Australian media agreed that the 33-year-old bad boy of Australian cricket had been given enough chances after a turbulent career beset by persistent off-field misdemeanours.
The groundswell of public opinion on talkback radio and newspaper on-line polls was largely in step with the media condemnation of Symonds.
The Daily Telegraph said Symonds would never play for Australia again, while The Australian newspaper said he had been given every chance and had blown it.
The Sydney Morning Herald said the patience of all in Australian cricket had been exhausted.
Former Test wicketkeeper and commentator Ian Healy said he believed that Symonds was “tired of cricket” and “wanted to be dropped.”
“I’m not sure whether Symmo wants to play cricket or be bound by contracts or be bound by the Cricket Australia structure,” Healy said on radio.
“I sense that he might be seeking the freedom that IPL (Indian Premier League) and maybe a (English) county stint might offer him.”
Healy said Symonds plainly had not overcome his problems with alcohol despite numerous counselling sessions demanded by Cricket Australia.
CA chief executive James Sutherland said the disciplinary breaches, some related to alcohol use, were the “final straw.”
His central contract, which he retained only last month, was also under review, Sutherland said.
While Symonds’s behavioural problems may have proved his ultimate undoing, Cricket Australia also came under attack for their “weak” handling of him.
“Andrew Symonds was a player never humble enough to learn from his mistakes, governed by weak officials who let him get away with far too much for far too long,” Robert Craddock said in The Daily Telegraph.
“He is a boofhead. They are weak as water. It really is that simple.
“Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland told Symonds when he acted up in England four years ago that he would have his contract torn up if he ever acted up again. Yet he did at least four times and until now his contract remained intact.
“The national selectors and some psychologists who have been peddling lines about his alleged recovery (from alcoholism) so ridiculous that they would be laughable if they weren’t so sad.”
The Australian’s Peter Lalor said CA officials were at fault for continually taking the soft option with Symonds.
“The hard option was not taken and now Symonds’s Australian career is over because of a series of minor misdemeanours,” he said.
Sutherland said he had no regrets over how his organisation had managed the Symonds situation.
“It is a constant balancing act and it just tipped too far. This is the final straw. I am not going to shy away from the process we have been through,” he said.
“People will make their own judgments. What I can say is that CA has been very thorough in making decisions about Andrew’s welfare and the interests of Australian cricket.”
An online poll in the Daily Telegraph was running at 71 per cent against Symonds, while another on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation website was at 85 per cent.
CA were also attacked by fans for the apparent contradiction of their sponsorship deals with with alcohol companies, while disciplining Symonds for his alcohol lapses.
Symonds, who missed selection in Australia’s Ashes squad announced last month, has been embroiled in a series of off-field indiscretions since 2005.