MELBOURNE, June 5 – Troubled Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds' international career appeared over after Cricket Australia said Thursday it had sent him home from the World Twenty20 tournament in England for breaking team rules.
CA chief executive James Sutherland said the breaches, some related to alcohol use, and coming just 48 hours before the team’s opening Group C match against the West Indies at the Oval in London, were the "final straw" for the controversial player.
Symonds’ central contract, which he retained only last month, was also under review, Sutherland said, explaining that the big-hitting 33-year-old all-rounder broke a number of rules and CA were now organising flights to get him back to Australia.
"It is with regret that I advise you tonight that CA have stood Andrew Symonds down from the Australian team that is currently in England for the World Twenty20 championship and will be coming home this evening," Sutherland said.
"The decision has been made after Andrew has in the last 24-48 hours broken a number of team rules.
"In isolation, those breaches are not significant, but in the context of commitments that Andrew has made to his teammates and CA over the last six to 12 months, they are the final straw.
Sutherland did not elaborate on the details of the player’s misdemeanours, but confirmed the matters were "alcohol-related" and that "other issues relating to team rules that have been breached as well".
Speaking in London, Australia captain Ricky Ponting added: "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."
It is likely Symonds’ international career is now over after this, the latest in a long list of off-field problems.
"Tonight we have also advised him that we will take the (contract) offer off the table at this stage," Sutherland said.
The Australians are due to face the West Indies in their first match of the Twenty20 tournament Saturday, but they will do so without Symonds. The tournament opens Friday at Lord’s, when hosts England face the Netherlands.
Sutherland said the Australian team’s leadership group held a meeting after becoming aware of the situation and expressed their concerns to CA.
A CA board meeting here late Thursday then endorsed the leadership group’s concerns and officials would discuss with the International Cricket Council about organising a possible replacement player, he said.
Symonds, who missed selection in Australia’s Ashes squad announced last month, has been embroiled in a series of off-field indiscretions.
He was suspended from the national team in September last year for going fishing instead of attending a team meeting, and was barred from the national squad that toured South Africa this year.
In January he was fined by CA after making disparaging comments about New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum in a radio interview.
Symonds was suspended from the Australian team in 2005 after arriving drunk for a one-day international against Bangladesh in a triangular series match in Cardiff, with his team defeated in a major upset.
He received counselling earlier this year and returned to the national team in the one-day series win over Pakistan in Dubai in April.
Symonds has had a chequered 26-Test career and has not played a Test for Australia since Boxing Day last year against South Africa in Melbourne.
Symonds is due to leave London Thursday and is expected to return home during the weekend, a CA spokesman said.