Andrew Symonds under spotlight again

Andrew Symonds’s word is no longer enough for his bosses, who will decide by Wednesday on his international cricket future after another alcohol-related incident.

Despite Symonds’s denial and back-up from a hotel manager who said he witnessed the incident, Cricket Australia was proceeding with a detailed investigation on Tuesday into allegations that the troubled all-rounder was involved in a bar fight on the weekend.

Symonds issued a statement denying reports of an altercation with a fan in a hotel after Australia’s first-Test win over New Zealand on Sunday.

But Cricket Australia said its operations manager, Michael Brown, was continuing his investigation as Symonds travelled to Adelaide to join the squad for the second Test against New Zealand, and was expected to make a recommendation within 12 to 24 hours.

It said Symonds was expected to meet with chief executive James Sutherland when he arrived in Adelaide and a public statement was planned for Wednesday.

The allegations came only a week after Symonds was recalled to the Australian line-up after being sent home from the three-match limited-overs series against Bangladesh in the northern city of Darwin in September for going fishing instead of attending a team meeting.

He was ordered to undergo counselling for that and a range of issues, including disenchantment with national cricket authorities over the handling of his racism allegations against Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh in January. He was sidelined for Australia’s four-Test tour of India, where it surrendered the Border Gavaskar trophy 2-0.

Symonds has a chequered disciplinary record in the national team and was warned in September that his playing contract would be torn up if he misbehaved again.

Symonds’s worst indiscretion occurred in 2005 when, after an all-night drinking binge, he reported still intoxicated for a limited-overs international against Bangladesh in Cardiff.
He was banned for two matches and narrowly avoided being sent home from Australia’s Ashes tour of England.

While the domestic media focused on the potential threat to Symonds’s international career, veteran cricket writer and columnist Robert Craddock said the all-rounder was in trouble because he didn’t learn from his mistakes.

He said Symonds had even been snubbed by a group of rugby league players at the hotel because they deemed him “too loud and arrogant”.

“... the final indignity for an arrogant, reckless man,” Craddock wrote in a column for News Ltd newspapers. “Precisely a week ago Symonds was telling the world how some of his problems were caused by too much drinking. And now this.

“Symonds’s statement released on Monday night portrayed him as the victim. Is he ever guilty?”

Craddock said the selectors persevered with Symonds because of his undoubted talent, but the player’s off-field manner “can be cringingly bad at times”.

The 33-year-old all-rounder said in the latest instance that he was at the hotel with some friends, including members of the Australian cricket team and the Australian rugby league team, when another patron started hassling him.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported a man, possibly an official in the military, had struck Symonds after his attempts to hug and be photographed with the player were spurned.

“A member of the public acted unreasonably towards me while I was with friends at which time I took steps to remove myself from the situation,” Symonds said in a statement. “The member of the public was subsequently removed from the premises as a result of his actions.

“I was sharing some drinks with other players and close friends and did not in any way provoke this situation.”

In the statement, Symonds denied he is being treated for alcohol addiction and said he was dealing with a “stress-related illness”.

“I remain committed to dealing with these issues,” he said.—Sapa-AP

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