New Zealand should be terrified right now. The psychotic looking individual submitting to Brett Lee’s barbery is a lock to start in today’s first test in Brisbane. So while this is ostensibly the most fragile Australian side we’ve faced in a decade or more, after their capitulation in India, the return of Symonds will have a massive effect on the psychic chemistry of the opposition.
The reason for Symonds absence is almost too perfect; rather than attend a team meeting prior to the Bangladesh one day series in August, he went fishing. Fishing! This is not how modern sportsmen behave, and why, for all the damage he’s inflicted on us, and the unpleasantness of his run-ins with Harbajan, I can’t help but love the guy.
He epitomises the larrikin heart of Australia, with his turning up drunk to play the ‘Deshi’s in 2006, and subsequently declaring himself ineligible for the Allan Border one day medal he was a shoe-in for. With Warne gone from the side, and the brilliantly peculiar likes of Colin ‘funky’ Miller (more on him to come, for sure) and Darren Lehman fading from memory, it’s left to Symonds to maintain the Australian tradition of flying the freak flag high, and letting it all hang out on-field and off. The guy bowls both spin and medium pace y’know! How, in a world of a academies and proscription, does that get allowed to happen?
I guess it comes down to the strength of the will. Perhaps it’s the Afro-Caribbean ancestry, or the sheer bloody-minded determinaion of someone who only really finds their cricketing role after turning 30, but there’s something a little different about Symonds, and he generally plays at his savage best when under the pump, and when the rest of the team is flailing. If that’s the case, then New Zealand better come correct, because today we face a force of nature primed to strike.