Martyn exit opens the Ashes door for Symonds

Australia's one-day specialist still has some unfinished business in the Test arena, writes Angus Fraser in Perth

The third Ashes Test, which starts in Perth on Thursday, is not just a pivotal game for England; it is a make-or-break match for Andrew Symonds, the Queensland all-rounder. Symonds is the Graeme Hick/Mark Ramprakash figure of Australian cricket; a hugely gifted sportsman who has found it difficult to come to terms with Test cricket.

The Birmingham-born 31-year-old turned down the chance to play for England in 1995 when he declined the offer of a place on an "A" tour, and since committing himself to Australia he has had stints with Gloucestershire, Kent and Lancashire as an overseas player.

Symonds owes this opportunity to resurrect his Test career to the surprise retirement of Damien Martyn and the ongoing hamstring injury to Shane Watson. That he bowled well at the WACA for Queensland in a Pura Cup (Sheffield Shield) game a month ago helped his cause, but his gentle medium pace and occasional off-spin is unlikely to cause Kevin Pietersen sleepless nights.

Symonds is one of the most dangerous one-day batsmen in the world. He has scored almost 4,000 runs in 154 limited-overs appearances at an average of 39. In the last World Cup he was the player of the tournament. Yet he has found Test cricket, with all its intricacies and pressures, a far tougher game to crack. In 10 Test appearances he has passed 50 on just two occasions and averages 19.

"I thought my Test career might be over," Symonds admitted after his last Test appearance against South Africa earlier this year. "I was really shocked about my recall. I actually got my 'baggy green' out a few days ago, looked at it, smelt it and wondered whether I would ever wear it again. It smelt nice. It smelt of sweat and beer."

A "baggy green", the cap worn by Australian Test cricketers, is possibly the most prized possession in sport here and Symonds has not had his off his head since he arrived in Perth. He even wore it at practice yesterday. "The boys were ribbing me a bit for wearing it," he admitted. "But I might not get the chance to wear it again so I'll be wearing it whether I play or not for the next couple of days."

Symonds is still very chippy when questioned about his English connections, as a journalist found out when he asked him how seriously he had considered playing for England in 1995. The indignant and confrontational reaction gave an indication as to why he has not been able to crack Test cricket. In one-day cricket a player often does not have time to think, he just plays. Yet in a five-day Test a lot of unpleasant questions are asked of you.

Symonds admits that he has struggled to come to terms with what Test cricket is all about and he is hoping to follow the example set by the England captain, Andrew Flintoff. "I played a bit with Freddie during my time with Lancashire, although our conversations were rarely about cricket," he said. "I have watched him play and he is a similar type of player to me. He plays instinctively and doesn't think about it too much. Train hard then go out there and react. That is how I play my best cricket.

"Before practice John Buchanan [the Australian coach] came up to me and asked me to play freely. He told me not to worry about the results because they will look after themselves if you go out there and enjoy yourself. In the past I have probably tried too hard and I need to be a little less intense. In the past I have clammed up a bit. It is hard to say 'bugger it' and walk out to play. After all," he added, "you're not playing backyard cricket - you're playing for Australia."

Hick's and Ramprakash's final chances went before they could show people how good they really are. Will it be the same for Symonds?

Symonds' Test record

Matches: 10

Runs: 286

Batting average: 19.06

100s: 0 50s: 2

Top score: 72

Balls bowled: 894

Wickets: 9

Bowling average: 45.44

5 wickets in innings: 0

10 wickets in match: 0

Best figures: 3-50

Catches: 10

News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Arts and Entertainment
L to R: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) & Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers Assemble
film
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
News
i100
News
Caplan says of Jacobs: 'She is a very collaborative director, and gives actors a lot of freedom. She makes things happen.'
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015