Andrew Symonds’ life is no less than a soap opera. The maverick cricketer opened up on his international career, life after retirement and the IPL. Excerpts from an exclusive interview.
Do you see some friendly faces or the same aggression in the Indian crowd now?
When I came to India before, the crowd used to go at me pretty hard. I think it's quite flattering if the opposition crowd sees you as a threat. So, I sort of used it to my advantage. It made me hungry to win. Now, playing for an Indian team, I believe the people here have sort of reinvented and tag me as a different person as I am playing in one of their teams. So, it's interesting to see how I am being received differently.
How do you look back at that ‘bad boy’ tag?
What people do when they don't know you is assume and write things the way they see them. Very few people know me well. I am a very private person. And cricket is not the be-all and end-all of my life. I enjoy spending time with family. And when I do play cricket, I give it my best shot. And when I am away from it, I completely try to forget it.
You have had several run-ins with Indian players in the past. Were they intentional?
Look, I think people compete in different styles — some people don't say anything, some people say something. I don't set out to clash with people, but if I do, I do. And that's the way I play.
Do you regret missing out on a few more years of international cricket?
I don't think I would have lasted much longer in that team (Australia) anyway. Not being able to have your own spare time when you're not involved with the group was really choking me. I wasn't enjoying being on tour as much as I should have been.
You went into a shell after the criticism over your behavioural issues…
Everywhere I went, the media hammered me. I just don't like it. The media was pushing me and I got tired of it. People whom I trusted also hung me out to dry. There was a lot of mistrust over what happened, things that were supposed to be confidential got into newspapers. And that's been happening for a long time. And that's very disappointing when people's private matters are not respected. I was on the front page of every newspaper. I know I did silly things as well. But I am very disappointed in the professionalism of how things were handled.
What about the IPL-IV?
No, that actually worries me. People always want more, they want to get bigger and faster. The other thing that worries me is that if players are going to play more in the same period of time, I don't know if the quality of cricket will be as high because they will get tired. They will get injured and that's a concern. Lalit (Modi) needs a band of merry men who are going to put their heads together and ensure they get it right. He obviously wants IPL to be the best and the most special thing in cricket. But to get that you have to look after your cattle, you can't just keep driving and whipping them.