From the publishers of THE HINDU

VOL.32 :: NO.42 :: Oct. 17, 2009

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CRICKET / INTERVIEW/ANDREW SYMONDS

Leading life on his terms

Deccan Chargers is banking heavily on Andrew Symonds to perform in the Champions League. And the star all-rounder tells V.V. Subrahmanyam that he is fully aware of his responsibilities.

Andrew Symonds is one of those cricketers one cannot just ignore — whether one loves or hates him. Cricket Australia officials are often forced to take disciplinary action against him for his off-field misdemeanours. But in their heart of hearts, even they would acknowledge the immense value of someone like Symonds. So, it is no surprise that Deccan Chargers, aiming for a triumph in the inaugural Champions League, banks on him as one of the key members of the team.

But what exactly are Symonds’ feelings having last played for Australia in an ODI in May this year? “I am not one of those watching the Australians in action on TV and getting worried. I certainly miss that action. But, right now, I am focussed and excited to be back with Chargers,” he says in an exclusive interview.

Is it a fact that media focus is too much in his case and that is the reason he is suffering more? “I am not bothered about what the media does to sportsmen and women. A shame what they do to some people sometimes. But I don’t want to be an example,” he says candidly. “There are so many things in life. And, I want to live as I would love to live,” he says.

But, why is it that he is always ending up as the bad boy? “Well, someone has got to be,” Symonds quips, perhaps underlining the way he loves to lead his life.

Does he feel that he is under pressure now to regain his place in the Australian side? “No, never. Whatever has happened is past. Let me look ahead,” the hard-hitting all-rounder remarks.

Doesn’t he feel that he is missing big-match practice because of the frequent bans slapped on him? “Look, I have been playing cricket for 20 years now. So, if I am away from the game, it is not as if I have forgotten it. It takes just five days for someone like me and Gilly (Adam Gilchrist) to get back to business. Definitely, match practice might be helpful but only a gentle reminder,” he explains.

What is his take on T-20? Does it put pressure on someone like him, who is always looked upon to raise the bar? “There are 11 people in every team. T-20 is a very short game and anyone can beat anyone on their day,” says Symonds, who has played 26 Tests scoring 1462 runs, including two centuries, and 198 ODIs scoring 5088 runs, including six hundreds. “No, I don’t have any goals. There is no pressure. I am enjoying life now,” he insists.

Does he see the cricket Champions League emerging on the lines of the football Champions League in Europe? “It could one day. Depends on the teams involved and if the game spreads farther than in the countries it is already popular in. Yes, we will have to wait and see,” says the match-winner.

In a way, would T-20 tournaments across the world usher in the trend of freelance cricketers? “Definitely, there is scope for that. But I still think quality players will be sought after. You can’t be just someone and hope to be the big attraction.You still need to have the quality aspect,” says Symonds.

Does it mean it is time to have specialists in the T-20 format too? “It might well be the specialists’ game very soon. Young players are always there to break into the sides even as old ones are bound to retire. This demands an exceptional level of fitness and performance. So, if you are a specialist you will be respected and well paid for your skills,” explains Symonds.

One of the star attractions of the Champions League signs off with a warning note, “I am charged up fully for the big challenge.”



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