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Symonds out in the cold

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Oliver Brett | 08:58 UK time, Wednesday, 20 May 2009

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.

Symonds batting in the Indian Premier League

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.


  • Comment number 1.

    Was never too concerned about Symond's inclusion. It's this lad Shane Watson I worry about - sounds a bit special with bat and ball.

    Looking at that squad there is no doubt England face the stiffest of opposition in the forthcoming Test match series.

    On the plus side I don't see the names McGrath, Gilchrist and most importantly WARNE ... a cause of celebration for all England fans.

  • Comment number 2.

    Watson is better than Symonds so he made the cut

  • Comment number 3.

    As I've said above, Watson's a very good player and is rightly in the squad. There is room for both Symonds and Watson. On the other hand, I don't believe McDonald is in the same class.

  • Comment number 4.

    I am glad that he isn't in the 16 man squad, it really does help us. He is a big man how could have been a thorn in the side all summer.

    It is right that they have missed a trick and I'm surprised.

  • Comment number 5.

    I agree completley. I was in Melbourne and saw first hand exactly what Symonds is capable of. Id place him above the 3 all rounders picked...North, Macdonald and Watson due to the match winning qualities he posseses. That day in Melbourne England were on top when he walked to the crease. However a couple of hours later he had changed the game. The pace he scores his runs at mean he can take a game away from a team in a session. He did in Melbourne, in just a couple of hours he had sucked the lie out of England. Australia have definatley missed a trick in leaving him out.

  • Comment number 6.

    Symonds has shown all his potential since arriving for the Deccan Chargers. As a fan of them and England I am quite happy that he won't be tormenting us this summer - he can take the game away very quickly.

  • Comment number 7.

    Agree with you Oliver good blog, I am a Victorian and still can't agree with the selection of McDonald over Symonds. This screams to me a 'team harmony' selection rather than the selection of a proven matchwinner. Much like Gilchrist Symonds will have some poor tests but in a five test series he will win you one by himself. McDonald is steady and seems a god team man but hardly a courageous selection. Brad Hodge must have broken a few mirrors imho. Agree with the Hauritz selection we can't afford to risk another Bryce McGain in such an important series.

  • Comment number 8.

    Looking at the performance of mcdonald in the last sydney test and the south african series i think he belongs to the same class

  • Comment number 9.

    Completely agree with the blog, such a talented cricketer. I think he would off been an integral part of the touring squad both on an off the pitch. For all his fall outs with the management I gather he's a popular man among his teammates and his experience would be invaluable. Do I sense a touch of arrogance from the selectors in leaving him out?
    Can he play for England instead??

  • Comment number 10.

    Personally i'm delighted not to see him in the squad!! The only thing that will make me even happier would be seeing McDonald line up in the actual TEAM in Cardiff for the first test, as well as finding Stuart Clark & Brett Lee not on the list and for the cherry on top maybe Mitchell Johnson could trip up on a 'rogue' cricket ball whilst warming up on the first morning and become unavailable only to be replaced by Hilfenhaus.

  • Comment number 11.

    Guus, brilliant comment! He was born in Birmingham after all, he's more English than half of our squad! If they don't want him we'll definitely take him!!

  • Comment number 12.

    It does seem a bit odd that he has been left out. Ponting, as much as anyone, must know that off field antics don't make you a bad cricketer. Perhaps they don't want any of the relatively inexperienced players being led astray but think how boring the world would be if all the sportsmen with his sort of attitude had been left at home.

  • Comment number 13.

    For me, I canot understand why you would leave out such a prestigous talent in a tournament with so much magnitude. Yes, he can be slightly difficult to handle at times and likes the odd drink. Sounds a bit like Freddie to me?
    Anyway, the point is, The Ashes is the biggest cricket series in the world. How likely is it that, had he been picked, he would turn up thinking "its only England, a bit of fizz wont hurt"?
    Sometimes his behaviour is erratic but to leave out someone who can change a match and a series with his bating ability, beggers belief.

  • Comment number 14.

    I agree with the premise of this article, Symonds is an excellent player and from an England perspective I am glad he has been omitted, the Australian selectors have missed a trick.

    However, your glossing over of disciplinary issues is ridiculous. What was so important about attending a team meeting? He was a part of the team and therefore obliged to attend just like everyone else. What was so important about a fishing trip that made him think he could just skip the team meeting. Also, I have no problem with players drinking, but if it affects your performance and you turn up to a game half-cut then a line has been crossed. Not to forget the alleged bar room brawls, the McCullum radio incident, and his role in the Harbajhan spat (although Harbajhan's antics were even worse).

    This Australia squad looks good, but a shadow of the last one that toured England, but clearly they are in transition.

  • Comment number 15.

    Symonds over A Macdonald anyday.

  • Comment number 16.

    SSS_BS (14) - Thanks for providing the other side of the coin. Of course discipline is important. My point is that Cricket Australia does not seem to appreciate that we are not all cut from the same cloth. They really don't treat individuals as individuals, instead they merely expect all of them to be a school prefect-type, goody-two-shoes. Symonds is a bit different and they have handled him poorly in my opinion.

  • Comment number 17.

    What about Sean Tait? He is a brilliant one day bowler....why not for tests? And also Nathan Bracken?

  • Comment number 18.

    !!! I actually agree with Oliver Brett.

    McDonald is Australia's Grant Elliot. He was Watson's stand-in. Watson is back so need need for McDonald. The Australian selectors have put loyalty (to McDonald) over the desire to win.

    Regarding Symonds' supposed misdemeaners: Calling another player thick (on a radio comedy show) is hardly a crime, nor is going fishing to prepare himself for a test (different players prepare mentally in different ways). It seems as if the Selectors have caught the disease that is engulfing Australia where petty rules and regulations have become more important than common sense and intelligence.

    England will be pleased Symonds is not in the squad.

  • Comment number 19.

    As an Aussie I am similarly disappointed by the exclusion of Symonds. I always feel a sense of expectation when I see him walk out onto the field, whether to field/bowl or bat. He is one of those rare players whose actions a game can pivot on at unexpected times.

    Presumably it is only his off-field behaviour that has caused McDonald and Watson to get included over him. Shame. Christ, look at Warne's behaviour over the years. He did enough never to play using that criteria. lol.

    Also, you know Symonds would have mixed it up nicely with the english players and caused a lot of drama. Test cricket could do with the controversy and the attention/spectators that brings.

    Anyway, none of this ranting matters, as Watson will pull a hamstring boarding the plane to come over and Symonds will be in. lol

  • Comment number 20.

    Symonds wasn't scoring runs in any form of the game except for maybe one innings against Pakistan in the recent one dayers. He definitely hasn't scored runs in the long form of the game at all. I'm glad he wasn't picked.

    Shaun Tait is too injury prone and didn't receive an Cricket Australia playing contract anyway and if his comments about test match cricket and Cricket Australia are anything to go by he is not mentally ready to be playing elite level cricket for Australia.

    Andrew Mcdonald may not do too much with the bat but he is handy with the ball and I will be interested to see how he goes in English conditions.

  • Comment number 21.

    Australia have such an embarrassment of riches anyway that they can afford to make an example out of a player in a way that most wouldn't dare to.

  • Comment number 22.

    pretty good blog (i've been critical in the past, so fair's fair)

    mostly agree, although i personally think there is a case that Symonds doesn't make the starting XI, and if he's not in your first team, is he a guy you want in your squad? well, yeah, probably, but it's a consideration. he's also knocking on a bit, and is not a forward-thinking selection in that respect.

    in the final analysis, though, I think gregfs23 has summed it up best: "in a five test series [Symonds] will win you one by himself", and, as an England fan, i know i'd rather be facing an Australia team without him.

    i also think that Hodge arguably is the most unlucky man to miss out, but, as you say, i won't be surprised if he gets called up at some point in the series.

  • Comment number 23.

    The English media are predictably obsessed with the Symonds absence. He has always been a more effective one day player, has played only 26 tests and would have played fewer if Watson had been fit. In Australia he is an icon with the general public but is not rated so highly by real cricket fans. He was poor in the home series against S.A. and was rightly dropped for cricketing reasons. North is the current number six and already has a test century to his name. Watson if fit may replace McDonald who batted eight in South Africa and is more of an bowler who can bat a bit.

  • Comment number 24.

    Won't Symonds probably be playing in Engalnd anyway - easily available to call up as required? And perhaps he will be even mored fired up to do well - having not made the 16?
    Aussie mind games methinks.......

  • Comment number 25.

    Warne possibly had more indiscretions than Symonds, but this was tollerated. His only real penalty was never being given the Captaincy. For Symonds, you can almost read Dean Jones. Its seems if the board dont like you, you are out.

    It also looks like a team building for the future. They've looked at the state of England and believe they can beat us with this team .... and I think they can .... but they won't ;-0

  • Comment number 26.

    As an Englishman I'm well happy he's not in! As a cricket fan it's a shame because he's a top level player who brings excitement to the party. He also has experience which could have been invaluable to what is a very young and inexperienced unit. If Cricket Australia seriously think he's not in their best 16 players then they're in a tiny minority. Maybe they're worried he'd get led astray by Freddie....

    I do think he's first on the call up list though for any injuries and therefore fully expect him to play some part in the summer.

  • Comment number 27.

    Wilo - 22 you say "personally think there is a case that Symonds doesn't make the starting XI, and if he's not in your first team, is he a guy you want in your squad?"

    That's a very good point actually, and undoubtedly one that counted against him.

    There is a real lack of batting cover in my view. Only seven people you can think of being good enough to bat in the top six, and they include North and Watson. Haddin must bat no higher than seven. That is why the Hodge omission is so odd.

  • Comment number 28.


    I agree with you that he should be back in the Australia team and that he has been handled poorly in so much as his punishment doesn't seem to be clear, leaving him in limbo. They could have said here is your punishment (banned for the next two series or whatever) and then welcomed him back with him hopefully then understanding the importance of discipline and team meetings etc. As it stands no-one, including Ponting, seems to know if he's being considered for selection or not.

    His behaviour did deserve some form of punishment, and I felt that your article absolved Symonds of blame.

  • Comment number 29.

    In addition to all that has been said about his batting and bowling, he is also one of the finest fielders in the game. Even if not playing, he would be a handy 12th man. But then, we all know how Ponting feels about excellent fielders coming on as sub...

  • Comment number 30.

    Good article, I agree that Symonds should be in the squad. Surely he is one of the bst all-rounders available to the Aussies? If the selectors have put personal issues before performance then its a load of nonsense.

  • Comment number 31.

    Good to see some fellow Victorians on here. It can be lonely at the top.

    I think CA have made the right move excluding Roy, it sends a message to the players (specifically Tait) that if you arent on board 100%, forget about it. It is also a move towards bringing in younger players, McDonald may not play a lot of tests, but it'll be good experience for him and encouraging to those looking to get in.

    While McDonald cant bat like Roy, he is handy with the ball and really did well keeping the pressure on in South Africa. I dont think he will be used and I dare say Hodge would come on before him as a batsman (I hope so!) and Hilfenhaus as a bowler.

    McDonald is also a committed professional. You may be right in saying that CA doesn't allow for individuals, Oliver, but that isnt the culture they are trying to foster.

    As for the suggestions around Tait & Bracken, they are barely taking wickets in ODIs at the minute.

  • Comment number 32.

    I'm sure Andrew McDonald is a very nice young man and a reasonable cricketer but I know who the English attack would rather bowl to, don't you.

  • Comment number 33.

    On form Symonds should probably have been picked - so if you are right and he was omitted because of his attitude and past misdemeanours what does this say about the state of the Australian squad?

    Is it a confident bold move that reaffirms team spirit and makes it clear to everyone that you have to be a team player to get in the side
    or is it a sign of weakness in not being able to accommodate a maverick?

    It strikes me that the Aussies are vulnerable right now and in English conditions we might be able to cause an upset. Pontings attitude borders on the arrogant and I dont think they can afford to leave out proven performers like Symonds. Surely Ponting could have managed the situation with Symonds with just a quiet word.

    I fancy England to get under Pontings skin and cause an upset this summer.

  • Comment number 34.

    "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?"

    I don't know, but call me stupid - isn't there supposed to be a big Team ethic and principles in all successful sides?

    So how is this acheived if you make 'exceptions' for loveable mavericks?

    Maybe the Aussies know a thing or two about being a successful team, them been No.1 since 1993!!!

    Sorry Oliver, but your article was a the typical 'woooly' thinking that means that you seem to think that having a character is more important than than whether they fit in the team and (no doubt) look down on dedicated individuals who are always proffesional

  • Comment number 35.

    Firstly I agree that Watson is injury prone and a slight risk, however let us consider the facts about Symonds.
    I keep reading about 2006-07 and his remarkable innings in Melbourne (which it was) but let us study the series.
    The First test Australia won by 277 runs (no Symonds)
    The 2nd Test in Adelaide, an unbelievable match (I saw every day live) and a Shane Warne inspired chance for Australia to win, completed by the batters, up until now, no appearance from Symonds.
    Australia up 2-0 with 3 to play.
    The 3rd test, in Perth, Australia needing to win to regain the Ashes. Aust bats first and makes 244 (Symonds out for 26, caught from a rash shot). England reply with 215 (Symonds takes 2-8 after England were struggling at 5-107). Australia 2nd innings 5-527 dec with centuries from Clarke, Hussey and Gilchrist (Symonds contribution 2, yes 2). England 2nd innings all out 350 (Warne, Clark and McGrath share 8 wickets, Symonds none for). SERIES OVER, AUSTRALIA REGAIN ASHES.
    ...then to melbourne for the Symonds innings...AFTER THE SERIES WAS DECIDED.
    Sorry to ramble on but I think I made my point.
    Watson in and Symonds may get the 12th man gig for his fielding, let's wiat and see, a very strong squad, Symonds or not.

  • Comment number 36.

    RE: coffeeandnan: Symonds didn't just call mccullum thick, he called him a piece of poo (or words to that affect) which is a touch worse. perfectshoeb, in that test there was a crack running down the pitch akin to perth in the 80's and all he did was hit it. I'm sure symonds can do the same with his mediums (or offies) and still provide something with a little more substance with the bat. In regards to the actual article; I would want symonds in the side, but you can't just overlook indiscressions like that as mr brett is suggesting. My bottom hurts, ah thats why, a fence post!

  • Comment number 37.

    I bet if Flintoff is 50% fit he will be selected in the starting XI to play the aussies. The omission of symonds only proves that the aussies pick their players based on current form rather than reputation. ECB and the english media are known to favour reputations ahead of form.

  • Comment number 38.

    Only Ponting remains of the big names who have tormented England for years (excepting 2005). This is going to be 2 very evenly matched teams really going at it this summer and I cannot wait. I think England have the big names and experience to edge this contest!

    What makes me laugh is it is now Australia who have their own 'wheelie bin' of a spinner. If they are bringing all seamers, our groundsmen should be making tunring pitches, we have 2 very decent spinners now!

  • Comment number 39.

    Wrt to Symonds, I think he won't be missed too much in the Aus XI. Personally I believe, Watson is a better pick than Symonds considering his allround ability. The only place I can think of where Symonds would fit in the XI is in place of Hussey considering his form is not going too well.

    But I am not sure about the Andrew McDonald selection though. But unless someone gets injured or Australia wraps up the series pretty early, I do not think McDonald or Symonds (if he was picked) would make their cut in the XI.

    I had much trouble selecting the bowlers though. Aussies have wonderful bowlers though. With Mithcel and Lee coming back, and Watson playing the allround role, there will be stiff competition for the other bowler spot. I hate see the Aussies have damn good squad and I will be very surprised if the result goes in Engish way. Only chance I see for England is if multiple batsmen loose their forms. And their tail isn't that bad either.

  • Comment number 40.

    I am extremely disillusioned with Cricket Australia and selectors for not picking Symonds. Point 1 : Picking Hauritz is a waste of time. He is not up to test class and will never win a test match. Symonds could do as good a job in my opinion. Point 2 : Watson has been picked solely as a batsman, as his back injury is preventing him bowling and his future career looks destined as a batsman. Point 3: McDonald will never win a test match with his bowling or batting. Point 4: Symonds could add so much to the side. He is worth 30 runs in the field and his batting can win test matches. I would not have picked Hauritz or Watson or North. Selectors have caused trouble by picking average players in the absence of Symonds (North and McDonald) and they have done well. But they are not in the same category as Symonds and will be found out in England. North bowls about as well as Peterson and is not worthy of a test place. Symonds also pulls a crowd. he is worth millions of dollars to Cricket Australia as he draws thousands more to each test he plays like Gilchrist did. I totally agree with Oliver Brett that Cricket Australia has failed him. They want the perfect little prefects, not individuals. BTW Symonds went fishing because he had got the times wrong as to when the team meeting was to take place. He did arrogantly miss it on purpose.

  • Comment number 41.

    I'm not too fussed about Andrew Symonds missing out. If the ACB feels that his disciplinary record makes him a liability it's their decision. I must admit that having Symonds coming in in a crisis worries me more than seeing Shane Watson, but the Austraklian selectors obviously rate him highly.

  • Comment number 42.

    The Aussies are going to rely on the all-rounders for their bowling based on recent tests. They have been playing only three specialist quicks and no spinner. North is a decent spin bowler so will most likely play especially if Hauritz doesnt. Watson when fit is a threat with the ball and can play as the fourth seamer. McDonald is able to keep things tight. When things have gone wrong for the Aussies in the last couple of years its been because Ponting has had to overuse the seamers because the games gets away from him with the part-timers. McDonald has largely solved this problem which is why he keeps getting picked despite seeming innocuous. Symonds is the worst bowler of the four which is why he wasnt chosen. Hes pretty much a specialist batsmen who bowls a little.

    His behavior and age dont help but given the fact that they keep rushing him back into the side (see the one day team recently) the selectors clearly dont mind looking beyond his character.

    I don't believe his form really merits selection anyway.

  • Comment number 43.

    Symonds is a fantastic player can't say i don't mind him missing out though anything to help the regaining of the ashes. Anyone else have the feeling Watson is either gonna be the star of the series or just too injured to play i think it seems to be the general concensus. I don't think we can read too much into our windies win either its a good confidence boost but still Aussies are a different class in my opinion

  • Comment number 44.

    I think that the ACB have chosen the form team, recognising the side that did well in the test matches in South Africa. I think that there is a risk in picking the likes of Lee and Clark, who have had little test cricket in the last few months, but are likely to be fresh and ready to challenge for test places.

    I think that it is likely that they will play a pace attack in most test matches, ( with Watson as the all rounder batting at six ) and use the part time spin of Katich and Clarke, who both have taken wickets and won games at test level, if required. Am surprised at the comment about Haddin's batting, whilst he is no Gilchrist, and would be the first to admit it, he is no dummy with the bat, and has scored centuries in both tests and ODI's

    The Australian selectors have for many years now picked teams for the types of cricket to be played, and Symonds will be seen in the 20/20 World Cup, and probably in the One Day Internationals in September. I think that they have selected a form team for the test series and unfortunately, time has moved on for Andrew Symonds.

  • Comment number 45.

    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.

    The lad turned up on the morning of an international match drunk. How is that not outrageous? If I turned up to work slurring and mumbling, Id face disciplinary action. Oliver, Im astounded that you dont find this to be poor behaviour from Symonds. Would you have finally been offended only by Symonds doing a Bobby Peel and relieving himself on the field of play?

    This Australian side has changed. The stars have gone. When India came to Australia, you saw a side trying to cope without the stars. When a side is deprived of the special talents, it has to bond together. Australia were that side in South Africa. There was a clear team spirit in the side again, an injection of youthful blood in Hughes, new bowlers to provide energy, big Mitch improving even more ultimately the selectors had to look at whether Symonds would add to that team spirit or whether he could harm it. Given his indiscretions in the past, I think it was the right decision.

    Andrew MacDonald is never going to be a fashionable cricketer. Theres a school of thought that hes the Australian Collingwood, and not just because of the ginger connection. They dont look like much but they both perform a purpose. MacDonald bowled well in South Africa and did a good backup job to Siddle and Johnston. England should not underestimate him as I cant believe Shane Watson will stay fit for the entire series. Oliver, you might say he hasnt pulled up any trees in his Test career thus far but hes played all four of his Test matches against South Africa, perhaps the second best batting lineup around and certainly the best all-round bowling line-up, and not looked out of place. If he can perform like that against SA, he could well perform well against an England side that still has yet to convince against a really good side for a number of games.

  • Comment number 46.

    Clearly leaving Symonds out of the squad will increase the confidence of the English side, and increase the pressure on the younger players in the Australian side. The only justification for such a bold move would be that Symonds was out of form or unfit.

    This is a case of little men behind the scenes trying to be bigger men than the players on the field. I also suspect that Ponting was involved in the decision to drop Symonds.

    If Australia lose this Ashes, I hope the accountability goes beyond Punter, and takes in the whole selection board. If Australia lose, they should all get the sack.

  • Comment number 47.

    The Ashes tour is going to be a hard one and when the going gets tough you want all your players to pull together. Symonds response is more likely to be to find the nearest pub and slag off his team mates. If he was good enough, like Warne, exceptions might be made but he only produces the goods occaisionally.

    His previous antics have cost him an Ashes spot and maybe this is the wake up call he needs. However, if you want his take on this decision you'd be better trying his local...

  • Comment number 48.

    The other question - why has he been left out given that only Brett Lee of all Australia's bowlers has ever toured England before, and they have a relatively new batting line-up?

    Symonds has played county cricket for years, starting with Gloucestershire in 1995 (when he was still an English player) and knows every Test ground inside out. Only Katich, Hussey and Ponting have his level of experience of English conditions. Hodge would of course have been another. North/Watson/Hughes etc. playing the odd game here and there isn't quite the same.

    It's very gentlemanly of the Aussies not to use the fact that English counties are now "home-from-home" for them against us - but it is also daft of them.

  • Comment number 49.

    As an England fan, I'm actually rather diappointed that Symonds is omitted. One of my slim hopes was that the Aussie selectors would start the series showing loyalty to the older players who have been out of the side for one reason or another. Then it might have taken them two or three tests to figure out (if indeed such is the case) that Symonds/Lee/Clark are not as good as they used to be. They did this to an extent last time with Gillespie and Kasparowicz.

    Oh well, on to my next slim hope, which is that we are rating some of these new players too highly just because it's Australia.

  • Comment number 50.

    Looking at some of these responses, anyone would think Australia have suffered years of Test defeats. Now they're worried about England! The Aussies went to South Africa, at the time a side full of confidence after beating Australia down under, and they absolutely hammered them in that series. Even with a rookie bowling attack, Hussey in no form at all, a lower middle order that looked inexperienced, and a new wee lad at the top of the order, they beat South Africa and played some pulsating cricket.

    This is Australia we're talking about, not the Woman's Auxiliary Balloon Corps XI.

  • Comment number 51.

    Although there's no denying that Watson's highly talented, with Symonds you get a little something special, and with Watson being injured for the majority of his career, I think they could end up regretting it. It wouldn't surprise me if Symonds quit international cricket, as a way of getting back at them.

    The urn just got a lot closer to England's grasp.

  • Comment number 52.

    Having just read your blog i cannot really agree with your comment that cricket australia only pick perfect goody two shoes, would Shane Warne fall in this category? Although i believe symonds is a good player you must admit Mcdonald was excellent in South Africa and proved himself able to perform on tour. Maybe the aussies are playing it safe, but given Shane Watsons record with injuries you cant realy blame them as with Mcdonald you know what your getting as opposed to Symonds who is a little hit and miss both on and off the field.

  • Comment number 53.

    I'm sure if you ask any Middlesex fan they will tell you the same thing, it's Hughes we want to be worried about. 574 runs at an average of 143 so far. What's more scary, an enigma who may take one game in a series away from you, or a top order batsman who's likely to batter your bowlers test after test.

  • Comment number 54.

    As an Aussie up far too late at night, a bit of perspective. Andrew Symonds, at his best, is an incredible talent, amazing to watch and a match winner. The rest (about 90%) of the time he is a hindrance. His scores for Queensland in the 2008-09 Sheffield Shield season were 5, 5, 26, 0, 43, 1, 5, 3, 27, 3, 52, 13, 14 total 197 runs at 15.15. Hardly inspiring. The fact is that apart from one 1-dayer against Pakistan (in yet another meaningless 1-day tournament) in which admittedly he won us the game, his form has been terrible, and his non-selection reflects that. The dilemma the selectors have is that yes, at his best, he can win the game, but can they afford 4 poor performances (and getting on the booze) in the meantime? And don't call him an allrounder, that term is used far too often these days, he is a batsman who can bowl a bit.

    I agree Andrew McDonald should not have been picked - the selectors should have gone for another specialist batsman, perhaps Adelaide's own youngster Callum Ferguson, or for experience Brad Hodge. If Australia fails, it will be our lack of batting depth, not the choice of "allrounders", that costs us dearly.

    My prediction 2-1 Australia's way. Should be a great series.

  • Comment number 55.

    Hmm... your lack of batting depth. I think it is ours that will become apparent once we face something that isn't the Windies bowling attack. I think in our current team only Collingwood and Pietersen have a good record against the aussies.

  • Comment number 56.

    It is rather disappointing that such a versatile, talented chap has been omitted from the squad. I think it's a mistake Aussie selectors will undoubtedly rue should things go 'south' for them this summer!

    Symonds is an exposive game changer! I'm sure West Indies wished they had someone of his caliber to include on their team! And England, too!

    Too bad!

  • Comment number 57.

    People who head up organizations are all-too-often easily threatened, thin-skinned types. They are more often than not timid, unremarkable, conventional people for whom outspoken, swashbuckling people who make the bold gesture and break the rules are simply too much to contemplate because they live life accroding to a different code, one that shines a light on the timidity of others. See the Kevin Pietersen affair. See the Andrew Symonds affair. The Australian selectors should be ashamed of themselves. Little things please little minds. How petty!

  • Comment number 58.

    This is going to be alot closer than many people think, and for one reason. No Warne. Meaning not as much pressure, meaning less wickets for the Aussies and bigger scores for England. Lets not forget that Warne or a spinner has taken more wickets in an English Ashes tour for the last 4 tours, and then it was Terry Alderman. Hauritz is no Warne, and to be honest he is no real spinner. He throws up pies and gets murdered by decent batsmen. Perhaps North and Clarke might pick up a few, but the Aussies, when they come to UK, they rely on pressure over after over after over, and there is no one there to exert that.
    Delighted there is no Symonds but considering the Aussies are bringing 3 recovering patients, Lee, Clark and Watson, so i imagine we will see him sooner rather than later.
    First test: Ponting, Hughes, Katich, Hussey, Clarke, North, Haddin, Watson, Hauritz, Lee, Clark.
    Strauss, Cook, Bopara, Pieterson, Collngwood, Bell, Prior, Broad, Swann, Anderson, Panesar.
    If its a bunsen, 1-0 to England

  • Comment number 59.

    Let's nobody forget that a) Symonds hasn't taken a Test wicket nor looked like doing so since the dawn of time and b) Symonds, for all his occasional side-saving big-scoring, hasn't moved his feet nor selected the correct shot for the situation in a Test Match, nor looked like doing so, since the dawn of time.

    This ridiculous soi-dissant decision to appoint himself as a part-time off-spinner really irks me too. I'm not sure 'bits and pieces' is really that appropriate for Test cricket; I feel if you don't have a world class all-rounder (then again, who does these days?) then you plan without one. A much more reasonable selection to bat number five and serve up fodder if required would be the much more deserving Brad Hodge, even David Hussey.

    I quite like Shane Watson; he IS a more than capable batsman, having compiled first-class double tons in pressure situations, and is much more likely to show the discipline necessary for Tests, unlike Symonds who may bludgeon forty but will then likely fall on his sword. McDonald, though I love him as a brother, probably will end up slipping behind Johnson in the batting order, by which time he is sunk; although he is a more than useful bowler, and will prosper in English conditions.

    So as an Englishman in Melbourne, I am awfully confused. To an extent glad Symonds isn't coming, mainly because he doesn't deserve to having not scored a first-class run forever, but also because I know he'd do something special in England, just to annoy me. But then Australia haven't picked their own best team for three or four years now (persisting with Clarke, failure to replace Hayden in good time) and are STILL a clear number one in the world, and with nobodies like Anderson now firmly established as 'favourites' in the English team ahead of poor old Hoggy, I see nothing but a pounding ahead this summer, with or without Symonds - I suggest of the calibre of 3-1.

  • Comment number 60.

    The most successful Aussie touring teams in recent times(Ashes '89, 2001, RWC 1999)were based on a well-led, close knit squad focused on winning. Symonds is worse than a "naughty boy" - he is a distraction and a disruption, and not one needed in such an important series and certainly not when the team is in a rebuilding phase, when you want the senior members of the squad to set the example of commitment and application to the new guys. Turning up hungover or not turning up at all is not the way.

  • Comment number 61.

    McDonald has played a role for Australia in recent test matches in keeping things tight. He's calm (think of that tight test against South Africa in Sydney and that wonderful catch off his own bowling) and has played 4 tests for Oz, 3 of which we have won. Previously with McGrath and Warne keeping it tight and taking wickets a player like McDonald was surplus to requirements. But if he's played it may well be the English team's desire to tonk him out of the park that will work for him. Hauritz is also there for his defensive qualities. And let's face it Symmo's bowling in recent years has been nothing much to talk of.

    It would still be a nice feeling to have Symonds walking in at number 6 and prowling the covers. Watto if he can he keep himself fit is a quality player, moreso with the bat I think.

  • Comment number 62.

    Symonds has not been picked due to poor form in the last two years, not because of indiscretians. He has been so out of form for both club cricket and state cricket that it made it impossible to justify his selection. The tests Mcdonald has played against South Africa, we won the series and we can't ask for more than that. He is no world beater but will tie up an end resulting in wickets the other end. He has also been in great form for Victoria with bat and ball. This should be a more even Ashes series and I am confident Australia has the team to come home with the victory. Bring it on!!

  • Comment number 63.

    What an intriguing situation it would be if (per chance) the selectors have decided to draft Andrew Symonds to play for his native England against the Aussies this summer!

  • Comment number 64.

    I was never a huge fan of Symonds in the early part of his career but he is a true character of Aussie cricket of which there are few left and i have to admit, he is great to watch. I am sick of the Australian side being latte sipping, hair product wearing, shop-a-holic, metro sexual toffs.

    Bring back Boonie!!!

  • Comment number 65.

    Symonds is without doubt the most dangerous of aussie allreounders, but i think there's more to his exclusion than meets the eye. Despite louds pronouncements from certain team members about Symond's galvanising effect on team morale, all sorts of rumours abound and some players remain tight lipped - why exactly did he and Clarke allegedly fall out? Put it this way, Symonds seemed to divide and rule at many of his county sides - Kent,Lancashire, and Gloucester all had issues i believe - and his reputation as a loud mouthed, swaggering braggart is well established in cricketing circles allegedly. But if Ponting had his way i think he'd be in, as Symonds was one of his two key sledger henchmen (along with Hayden) over the last few years. However, post Sydney 08 and the fracas with India, CA had enough of all that nonsense ('spirit of cricket' anyone?) and Symonds seems to be, probably not without justification, the fall guy. Either way, I reckon CA has done the right thing. Put the mental disintegration days behind Australian cricket - the world's changed in a financial and cricketing sense and the aussies need friends. If there's any sniff of team disharmony you should cut out the root cause - whatever the cost - and Aussies always put the team above the individual - England take note...

  • Comment number 66.

    I have no doubt Symonds would have done a good job on the field against England. For England, he's one of the players that holds the 'fear factor' - like Warne did. A player who tries to bully the bowlers, and in the absence of Hayden and Gilchrist, this will be lacking.
    My thinking is that the Aussies think they'll have too much for England to handle even without him and are including players for the future. Even though this goes against their selection policy of recent years, it was something that Ponting alluded to before they toured the West Indies.
    (That and the fact that Symonds can be a bit of a PR headache)
    The obsession with all-rounders is getting tired anyway - the Aussies have enough talent in all departments and enough backup bowling in the Counties to be worrying about stop-gap players.

  • Comment number 67.

    Id agree you about the potential of Symon's, but his recent form, one big score apart, has been very patchy, and along with his off field antics make him a fair gamble. He seems to be paying less attention to cricket now aswell, being involved in game shows and reality tv in australia. I don't think he's hungry anymore, so I personally wouldn't pick him. McDonald I have my doubts about, and I think Hodge was stiffed, but as a Victorian what could have he expected?

  • Comment number 68.

    Can't help thinking that that politics rather than cricket has come out on top when selecting a side to retain the Ashes. I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking this is crazy. Symonds has consistently delivered for Australia (you don't just get an average of 40 without showing some talent). MacDonald isn't proven although his bowling is consistent and English conditions will suit him, Watson is constantly injured and although highly talented is unlikely to make it through the full series. My main concern is only 6 batsmen

  • Comment number 69.

    As Dozz67 wrote above it's his poor form as well as his indiscretions that have seen him omitted.

    Having read all of the posts there is only a single mention of a guy who, in my opinion, could be the new star of the Aussie team. Anyone remember Bob Massie at Lords a long time ago? There is a quicker version about to land on your shores. Beware.


  • Comment number 70.

    I think some of you here on this post, and people like Ian Botham, need to be careful of their assessment of this Autralian team. Warne, McGrath and Gilchrist might be gone, but their are four real jewels in this Australian crown that will propel the team squarely to the top. Mitch Johnson is the most dynamic cricketer currently playing the game and he will trouble Kevin Peitersen in particular. I have noticed for a long time how susceptible he is to left arm bowlers - look how the modest Yourav Singh did him over in India - and Mitch is the best since Wasim Akram. I predict that Hughes will stun every one and the South Africans had no answer to him at times. Brad Haddin is an average keeper but he is a devastating number 7 batsman. Gilly he ain't but he is the next best thing. Underestimate him at your peril. And don't write off Ricky Ponting just yet. I predict a big series from and he at even 75% is better than anyone England has, including Peitersen.

    To win the Ashes, Australia's back up players have to support the big four. I also think Hussey, Clarke, Katich and Siddle will have good series. Hussey has not lost it despite what some miserable Australian fans think. He just needed a break to clear his mind and I tink he will thrive in English conditions. Siddle is a jet and reminds me so much of Merv Hughes. Katto has been great recently and I think his wrist-spin will also surprise some. England have an edge in the spin department: hauritz is very ordinary and they should have taken a punt with either Krezja or Jon Holland, but I still think apart from Pietersen and a very fit Flintoff, they don't have the X-factor of a very special Mitch Johnson and Phil Hughes, and Haddin, Ponting and perhaps Siddle.

    Australia to win a tight series 3-1 or 2-1.

  • Comment number 71.

    Its a talented outfit alright and will retain the Ashes probably without breaking a sweat :). I particularly liked this bit from the article:

    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.

    Yup this will be a quite "un-Australian" team - not in the ability department but in a "personality" context. No abrasive (both with ball and mouth) "Pigeon" (McGrath), no "friendly word of advice" from the ever gobby Warnie and now no "colourful" Symmo.

    Yawwwwwwwwwwwwwwnwwwn :).

  • Comment number 72.

    Why is anybody even bothering with what Langer has to say?

    Who cares about Symonds?

    What a load of rot that blog is. The Ashes are upon us so we've all got to be so scared, whoooo, we'd better watch out for Watson, Hussey will score tons, you'll never live with Katich. Peitersen's had it and Flintoff will break there's no point turning up boys. Load of cobblers. Why does Langer even get a blog on a BBC site?
    Go and write on an Australian site, you may get someone to swallow it there.

  • Comment number 73.

    Symonds never had the required concentration levels to succeed consistently had test level. Always easily distracted, something which happened too much to the touring party in 2005. Limited footwork would also count against him when the ball swings. Although a Victorian, Mcdonald will be lucky to get a test match. His Medium pacers had Kallis and Amla in all kinds of strife but KP could tear him apart and his batting is that of a bowling allrounder. The Aussies have enough strength and players with Ticker. Katich, Hughes, Ponting, Siddle and Johnson love a fight and this will be a hard fought series. Strauss and Collingwood are the only Poms who can play well in adversity as KP seems disinterested. The Poms have more problems than the Aussies. Beating the Windies at home is easy. James Anderson will crumble under the scoring pressure of Hughes and Katich. 3-1 Australia

  • Comment number 74.

    When I saw Symonds and Hayden at Melbourne in 06 it appeared to me to be both their was billed on local radio as Symonds last chance to do anything of worth and he certainly proved himself that day ....the game was in the balance when he came in and lost once his innings was complete.

    However one picked up he was not a team player from the locals and Melbourne media and he has sadly wasted the time since - a real shame. Considering he is after all bIRMINGHAM UK born - perhaps he will be England qualified in 2013 ?

  • Comment number 75.

    It is the end of an era, for Symonds, for Vaughan, and a few others!

  • Comment number 76.

    I think archLionheart is right. England should disregard the visiting team entirely. As he says, "who cares?", and when you have a record like England's opposition just melts away. Besides, the Premier League will be back in full swing by the 3rd Test, when England are 3 nil down... and out

  • Comment number 77.

    Personally I think the ACB is an absolute disgrace. They basically left Symonds hung out to dry in the whole "monkeygate" affair. You can't really blame him for losing his mojo after that debacle. Andrew Hilditch was an average cricketer and is an even more average member of the ACB.

  • Comment number 78.

    I am surprised at all the attention that Symonds gets. It is as if he was the greatest ever player of his time and his exclusion is being splashed over so many papers. I can Australian papers doing so for it is their team they are discussing. But Symonds seems to get more attention all over. This is unusual for a player who is who is a bit overrated. He has been more known for his controversies than his achievements.
    As an individual he always came off as an sly, conniving, and unpleasant character - sledging from the corner of this mouth so as to not attract umpire's attention but nevertheless rile the other person and then take an aggrieved stance.
    He was never called monkey in India. It was Symonds, who seeing a few public spectators pointing to his face , thought of accentuating his white paint on his lips and mannerisms so as to provoke reaction. Maybe he shouldn't have been called a monkey ( if he was called one ) but in the Monkeygate episode he had no business in provoking a reaction. I am surprised that no action was taken on this. Of course it is not surprising that Australians feel he was let down by Australian Board.
    Actually that Test was more of a "Sydneygate" than a "Monkeygate" with all the controversies that related to umpiring and Australians were merely clutching at diversions and Monkeygate came in handy.
    In fact Symonds came on record after his first innings and declared he was actually out but simply stayed as he got an unexpected decision.
    But take away the Test and the resultant action and there you have the result. For all their bluster and jingoism the Australians have sorely missed Steve and Mark ( no , I don't mean the Waugh brothers !! ).

  • Comment number 79.

    If the expression "Black Sheep of the Family" was ever more literal than this time I would like to have seen where. This is not about cricket as far as Symonds NONSELECTION is concerned, its alot more than that. Hands down Symonds is the best all round player Australia has ever seen in a long long time ,and he has proven it always when given the chance. I'm not a big fan of England but this time arround I would defenitely like to see them whoop the Aussies ,to teach them a cricket selection lesson ;just like India did before ,when they also left out Symonds. ARE THE PEOPLE INCHARGE OF AUSTRALIAN CRICKET RACIST?

  • Comment number 80.



  • Comment number 81.

    With or without Mr Symonds, Australia will be so very hard to beat in the Ashes. It does not matter who has been left out or not, England are going to struggle as the Windies really are not up to much but knocking over on the current tour.

  • Comment number 82.

    How in the hell did he ever get picked in the first place if his non-selection is down to racism? His form in the local Oz comp was ratsh**. He is in about as good a nick for the long form of the game as Michael Vaughan.

  • Comment number 83.

    Symonds hadn't played good enough cricket to earn himself a spot... Simple as that. McDonald was always going to be picked. To be honest it shows a little ignorance of the current Australian team and the role McDonald has been playing if you disagree with it. The boy is doing his job brilliantly. The question really should be if Australia needs him to do that role if our other bowlers comeback strongly.

    The Australian selections are going to be really interesting. How people play in the tour matches will be the true indication of what the side will be. So many bowling choices at the moment. I can't see McDonald being dropped. Hilfenhaus should be able to swing the ball a mile in English conditions but can't see him being picked. Siddle is outstanding and seems to get better and better with every session. Mitchell Johnson could quite easily be the man of the series if the English don't figure him out. Last but certainly not least you've got Lee and Clark... Only one of the two will be picked and it will come down to who bowls better in the tour matches. Lee had an unbelievable spell in a twenty20 match last week but needs more overs under his belt.

    Phil Hughes....

  • Comment number 84.

    I like the look of this Australian side - its a good mixture of old and new. The 2005 side had more proven class, but it also had players who were (just slightly) on the way down in their careers. This time we'll see the seeds of their next era of domination!

  • Comment number 85.

    Symonds:-British born out in cold(by aussies)should we select him to play for England!(He is british by birth) He should be eligable for selection.If he he wishes to play for us.Now he should be a good choise to replace Flintoff!or other south african who were chosen to play for ENGLAND.

  • Comment number 86.

    Symonds is the archetypal modern player in technique and an old style amateur in approach. What a delightful combination! Australia surely regretted not taking him to India and I hope will regret not bringing Symonds to England. I personally will regret not seeing him at Canterbury in August.

  • Comment number 87.

    ha... not looking to clever this article is it anymore. I cant stand journalists who have no connection to something talking like they are an expert. The aussies selectors judged symonds temperament not worth the risk for the ashes tour but an acceptable risk for the short 20/20 tournament. They have been proved right and Oliver Brett wrong - as usual

  • Comment number 88.

    Darn it, someone beat me to it. Oliver Brett, your audience awaits. Answer us!

  • Comment number 89.

    Interesting article, Oliver and no I don't think that Andrew Symonds axing from the twenty20 squad in anyway vindicates his non selection in the ashes squad. I think this whole "rogue" player who continually flouts rules has been flogged like a dead horse and the only people that seem to jump onto to it are Symond detractors which there seem to many who like to stick the boot in. The beauty of Symonds is his explosive batting, incredible cat like fielding which cricket only needs more of and for me the Aussie twenty20 team will be poorer for his omission whatever the reason.

    It disturbs me comments attributed to James Sutherland the CA Chief stating that the misdeamonours which Symonds has supposed done are "not serious breaches in isolation" but now seemly irrevocable. The whole secrecy behind what the breach was also leaves CA open to claims that they run cricket like some religious sect and if you don't tow the line you get the boot. If cricket is meant to be some holier than thou sport then personally I'm less interested.

    As a passionate aussie supporter living in England I totally support Roy and it appears that certain people have got what they wanted... i.e. Roy for the chop... long live Roy and I cherish the memories of his great play if this is to be the end of his international career.

  • Comment number 90.

    Hate to break it to you guys. but Mitchell Johnson is an all-rounder and in great form with the bat, just ask sth africa. He averages 34 with the bat.

    then, depending on if he is picked your likely to have lee(avg 20) at 9.

    Andrew symonds was the least of your worries.

    good luck.

  • Comment number 91.

    We should all feel sorry for Symonds and his alcohol problem, don't you realise he is just the first victim of England's new secret weapon, 'warm flat English beer' The Aussies just can't take proper Beer, Mind you we shouldn't knock Aussie beer, it may taste like Gnats, but at least you can drink ten pints and still drive home safely!


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