Symonds out in the cold
Australia have hedged their bets by picking three all-rounders in their 16-man squad for the Ashes, but the most gifted of the four possible contenders has missed out.
Once again, the headlines concern Andrew Symonds, only this time the player himself - so often at the centre of controversy - is wholly innocent of any wrongdoing.
And England fans who witnessed his brutal century in the Ashes Test at Melbourne two and a half years ago will breathe just a little bit easier in the knowledge that he will not be tormenting Andrew Strauss's men this summer.
I do not doubt the merits of Shane Watson - a big, athletic talent who is as genuine and competitive as they come, but one who has been severely hampered by injuries.
Nor can I question the Aussies picking Marcus North, a centurion on debut in Johannesburg earlier this year and a player whose 98 first-class wickets as an off-spinner must have helped his cause in a team with just one specialist slow bowler.
But the selection of Andrew McDonald, who has hardly provided awe-inspiring performances in his few Test appearances, over Symonds is highly debatable.
Symonds has been a naughty boy on many occasions, but when you pick over everything bad that he has done in his career, there has never been anything particularly outrageous.
What was it, for instance, that was so crucial about a team meeting in August 2008 - when Australia were preparing for a three-match one-day series against Bangladesh of minute importance - that Symonds had to be there?
A wonderfully-talented free spirit, the 33-year-old is no natural leader and decided to go fishing instead.
Cricket Australia - a deeply conservative governing body - saw red. Not only was Symonds ejected from that series, he was also left out of the Test tour of India that followed.
Bangladesh are not a team that Symonds does too much preparing for. When Ricky Ponting's team were famously beaten by the fledgling Test nation in 2005 in Cardiff, Symonds was dropped from the team on the morning of the match for turning up to pre-match practice still suffering from the effects of a drinking session the night before.
In his book Roy: Going for Broke, which appeared the following year, he reminisced: "Ah, it's only Bangladesh. A little bit of fizz won't be a worry."
But the incident had ramifications: The following winter, he was deemed ineligible to win a prestigious Allan Border Medal on account of the indiscretion.
What troubles those of us who find professional sport has become too colourless of late -too obsessed with the science behind winning, rather than the majestic art of its great exponents - is that between indiscretions Symonds can be such a fantastic player, a game changer and a genuine match-winner.
Let's go back to that Melbourne Test again shall we? Australia, for the first time in the series, had come unstuck with the bat and were struggling at 84-5. But Symonds came to the crease and hit a majestic 156, the momentum switched irredeemably, and he had laid the foundation for another crushing win over Andrew Flintoff's beleaguered tourists.
It was no one-off. He has played only 26 Tests but averages in excess of 40 and there was an even bigger century in the ill-tempered January 2008 Test against India.
Almost as unlucky as Symonds is Brad Hodge, who averages 55.88 at this level and cannot get into the squad as a spare batsman. Now 34, he must wonder if he will always be one of Australia's nearly men.
An injury to any of the batsmen in the squad, mind you, might mean the talented Victorian who has played for three counties will get an immediate call-up - as there is limited back-up available within the squad.
Elsewhere, the squad is largely as predicted. Of the six possible seamers the one to miss out was always most likely to be Doug Bollinger, and so it proved.
Nathan Hauritz, the sole spinner, will have a fair old task on his shoulders if Cardiff turns out to be the dustbowl many are predicting - and if dry weather allows some of the other wickets to take turn.
Symonds, of course, could have provided assistance in that department. He has 133 wickets in one-day internationals, but the selectors had other ideas.