Symonds states his allegiance

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The Independent Online
Andrew Symonds, the 20-year-old who yesterday turned down England, has been voted Young Player of the Year by his fellow county professionals.

Dominic Cork, a leading figure in England's 2-2 drawn series against the West Indies this summer, receives the Player of the Year award.

Both players were honoured at last night's Professional Cricketers' Association dinner at the Cafe Royal in London.

Cork, the Derbyshire all-rounder, was pushed hard for the award by the leg-spinner Anil Kumble, who this summer has taken more than 100 wickets for Northamptonshire.

But it is the choice of Symonds which may prove the more controversial decision. Symonds, who turned down the chance to play for England A in Pakistan, has revealed that his Test ambitions lie with Australia. In a pre-season questionnaire released by Queensland the 20-year-old's response when asked what he would like to be doing in 10 years' time was: "Playing cricket for Australia."

Symonds, who moved from Birmingham to Australia when he was two, has been offered a three-year contract by Gloucestershire who insist he should still be classified as English for county cricket purposes. The PCA debated the issue yesterday, 24 hours after the chairman of selectors, Ray Illingworth, indicated that Symonds would would not be selected again.

Symonds has yet to be given any assurances about his future by the Australian Cricket Board which said yesterday that his form would determine selection.

n Hampshire's Norman Cowans and Tony Middleton have announced their retirement. Cowans, 34, has been forced to quit by a persistent back injury while Middleton, 31, will become the county's development officer.