Ricky Ponting said Andrew Symonds had ‘let himself down, let all his team-mates down and Cricket Australia down’ after he was sent home from Australia’s squad at the World Twenty20 in England.
All-rounder Symonds’s exit on Thursday, which Australia captain Ponting confirmed was for an “alcohol-related incident”, came just 48 hours before the team’s opening Group C match against the West Indies at the Oval. This is not the first time that Symonds’s career has been blighted by off-field problems – on Australia’s 2005 tour of the UK he was dropped on the morning of their shock one-day defeat against Bangladesh in Cardiff following a late night drinking session.
“We are all a little bit disappointed with the events of the last 24 hours to tell the truth on the eve of a very big tournament for us, To lose one of our better players and better performing Twenty20 players in the world right now is far from ideal, but we have got to move on from it as quickly as possible. Any sadness he felt at the latest indiscretion of Symonds, a hard-hitting batsman, brilliant fielder and a bowler capable of both spin and seam, went far beyond the personal. I don’t feel any more disappointed or let down than anyone else in the team. It’s a team game, the bigger picture here is about the team and the future of Australian cricket. That’s why we’ve come to the decision we came to. He (Symonds) has let himself down, let all his team-mates down and Cricket Australia down.”
Asked what had happened, Ponting said: “I’m not going to go into specifics. I think James Sutherland (Cricket Australia chief executive) made it pretty clear it was an alcohol-related incident. As everyone knows he’s contracted until June 30 this year and we will see what happens from there.”
Ponting was Australia captain when they lost leg-spin great Shane Warne to a drugs ban on the eve of the 2003 World Cup in South Africa which the team won without losing a match.
“I’ve been there before, I know how to handle it,” said Ponting. “It’s about the next guy in line coming in and putting his hand up when required and making a name and identity for himself at international level.”