Symonds’ absence leaves Australian selectors in dilemma


Melbourne : While Andrew Symonds reflects on his future after his recent breach of discipline in Darwin, Australian selectors face a tough task of chalking out the Australian team for their future tours, including this year’s visit to India.

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Symonds was a significant part of Australia’s bid to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in the four-Test series next month with his robust middle-order hitting, part-time spin and supreme catching and fielding.

But with the all-rounder pondering his future after the embarrassing fishing fiasco – he was sent home after going fishing rather than attending a team meeting – selectors will have to discuss other options before naming the squad in a fortnight.

Acting national captain Michael Clarke said Symonds would only be recalled when team-mates again trusted him.

“He’s a very important player in all three forms of game, so I hope he uses his time wisely to get his head right,” Clarke was quoted as saying in Herald Sun.

“If he proves his commitment and worth back to this team, I know the selectors would be more than happy to have him back in this team.”

Clarke confirmed team management had grown frustrated with Symonds after a “handful of incidents” in recent years.

“The main concern for us as a leadership group and a team is commitment to the team,” he said.

“That isn’t just about on the field – that’s off the field, that’s attitude. There is a number of things we believe he wasn’t fulfilling.”

Australia has yet to settle on a frontline spinner for the Indian tour, with New South Wales chinaman Beau Casson, Victorian leggie Bryce McGain and Tasmanian off-spinner Jason Krejza vying for the role.

The inexperienced trio are in India on an Australia A tour pushing their cases.

The selectors were considering using Symonds and fellow part-time spinner Clarke as relief bowlers for a potent pace attack.

But if Symonds does not tour, selectors may be forced to send in Casson or McGain against some of the best players of spin in cricket.

Symonds’ absence would also spark a fight for the No. 6 spot.

All rounder Shane Watson is a class batsman and his fast bowling would be a welcome addition, while batsman Victorian Brad Hodge could return.

Hodge filled in for an absent Clarke in the first Test in the Caribbean this year, and he could provide some handy back-up off-spin.

Simon Katich, who thumped two tons and averaged 63.80 against the West Indies as an opener, could also slot into No. 6.

He, too, has had success with his part-time left-arm wrist spinners.