The turbulent cricket career of Andrew Symonds took another twist on Thursday when the Australia all-rounder was sent home from the World Twenty20 tournament in Britain for an "alcohol-related incident".
The 33-year-old’s international future is now in grave doubt following the latest in a series of controversies, having only just returned to the national squad after being suspended for missing a team meeting last year. Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland told a press conference in Melbourne that Symonds had broken a number of rules “in the last 24 to 48 hours”. “In isolation, the breaches that I am talking about are not serious, but in the scheme of things, in the scheme of history, they are enough for it to be the final straw,” Sutherland said, reported on the Cricinfo.com Web site. Symonds is contracted by Cricket Australia until June 30 this year, but Sutherland’s comments suggest it is unlikely he will be retained on the international roster. Australia captain Ricky Ponting, a good friend of Symonds and one of his staunchest supporters during the past few years, said he was disappointed by the turn of events. Making a statement to the media about the incident on Thursday, Ponting refused to go into details of what exactly had happened.
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“Given the commitments he made, he’s let himself down, let his team-mates down and let down Cricket Australia,” Ponting said. “He’s been given plenty of opportunities (to sort himself out), that’s for sure.” Symonds had earlier this year been excluded from the squad to face England in the upcoming Ashes series against England, the nation of his birth. Symonds, who has a parent of West Indian background, was involved in controversies in home and away series against India in 2007 and 2008 where he was barracked racially by crowds on the sub-continent and then allegedly called “a monkey” by Harbhajan Singh in Sydney. He was suspended after missing a team meeting in Darwin last year ahead of the series against Bangladesh in order to go fishing, and was then cleared of wrongdoing after being involved in a bar brawl with a supporter who wanted a photo of him. Further fears for Symonds’ problems with alcohol were fueled after he appeared to be intoxicated during a radio interview in which he described New Zealand cricketer Brendon McCullum as a “lump of s**t” and made inappropriate comments about the wife of Australia team-mate Matthew Hayden. That cost him a place on the tour of South Africa earlier this year, which allowed other younger players to stake their claims for an Ashes berth. The Australians begin their World Twenty20 campaign against the West Indies on Saturday. Sutherland said CA would now seek to call a replacement player into their 15-man squad. “One would hope the ICC would look favourably on our application,” Sutherland said.