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Care-free Symonds waits on Ashes call

Damien Martyn's shock retirement opens up a spot in the middle order and Symonds' all-round talents are expected to see him fit the place.

india Updated: Dec 11, 2006 16:57 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds knows he has just about run out of chances at Test level, but he won't be putting undue pressure on himself to perform should he get the nod for the third Ashes Test against England at the WACA Ground, starting Thursday.

Symonds and uncapped West Australian batsman Adam Voges are vying for the last place in the Australian side that is looking to regain the Ashes with a win in Perth.

Damien Martyn's shock retirement opened up a spot in the Australian middle order and Symonds' all-round talents are expected to see him get the nod ahead of Voges for his 11th Test.

However, there is also widespread expectation that whoever plays will just be warming the spot for fellow Queenslander Shane Watson, who is expected to be fit for the fourth Test, starting December 26 at the MCG.

Speaking in Perth on Monday after the Australian team's first training session for the Test, the established one-day star said worrying about his performance was counter-productive and that he was determined to take a carefree approach into the match if he was selected.

Symonds said he had received some timely advice from Australian coach John Buchanan, who also coached Queensland and knows the big-hitting all-rounder better than most.

"Just this morning I was in the bathroom putting suncream on and the coach came to me and said 'I just want you to play freely and with your free spirit attitude, don't worry about results, results will look after themselves if you just go out there and enjoy yourself'," Symonds said.

"Last year I tried too hard at times and ended up clamming up for the wrong reasons, so I have to be careful on how I approach it."

However, Symonds admitted that keeping his mind off the bigger picture wasn't necessarily easy at Test level.

"You're so keen to do well, sometimes it is very hard to say 'I'll just go out there and play', because you're not playing backyard cricket, you're playing for Australia," he said.

"It's not necessarily that simple, but that's what you have to learn to do.

"You have to learn your game and learn your psyche on how you play your game."

With an average of just 19 with the bat and 45 with the ball, Symonds admitted to wondering whether his 10th Test, against South Africa in Johannesburg in April, was his last.

"The last few weeks I have probably been trying too hard and things haven't been going well and then I got the call-up.

"I was really shocked. I had my baggy green out a few days ago and smelt it and wondered if I would ever wear it again. I'm pretty excited."

Symonds, one of the best fielders in the world, showed his versatility with the ball in a recent first-class match against Western Australia at the WACA Ground.

He bowled seamers in the first innings and spin in the second, claiming 3-18 and 2-96.

However, his batting form for Queensland has been largely indifferent, with just 73 runs at 24.

First Published: Dec 11, 2006 16:57 IST