Australia ready to call time on Symonds after drinking antics

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The Independent Online

Andrew Symonds was banished again by Australia yesterday for a drinking indiscretion. As he left the World Twenty20 for home in Brisbane he was almost certainly leaving international cricket for the last time.

At the age of 33 – and that will be 34 next week – it is difficult to see how he can resurrect a troubled, intermittently glittering career. His expulsion from the squad came only two weeks after he played a leading all-round role in the victory of his side Deccan Chargers in the Indian Premier League final.

The precise details of Symonds' latest misdemeanour were not revealed but Australia's captain, Ricky Ponting, said that the all-rounder had broken several of his own commitments in the previous 48 hours. James Sutherland, the chief executive of Cricket Australia, said: "The breach of team rules of itself was not a major offence but was, in effect, the final straw."

Symonds has consistently found the discipline required of an international cricketer beyond him. On the Ashes tour of 2005 he turned up for a match in Cardiff plainly the worse for wear. Last year, he went fishing instead of attending a team meeting and was withdrawn from the series against Bangladesh.

During a lengthy rehabilitation period he rang a Brisbane radio station in January and was clearly drunk as he covered a wide range of cricketing issues and gratuitously insulted the New Zealand player Brendan McCullum. Australia stuck with him and, although he was left out of the Ashes squad, he was given a central contract last month.

Ponting, part of a four-man group which recommended Symonds' release, said: "I don't think Cricket Australia could have done any more for him. He has been stood down on a number of occasions, he has been working through some processes off the field over the last 12 to 18 months to make himself better in different aspects of his life."