Andrew Symonds back in nets

Andrew Symonds has joined his good friend Matthew Hayden for a net session in Queensland in what is believed to be his first hit-out since being banished from Australia’s squad. Symonds took the opportunity for some practice on Friday, the same day he was left out of Australia’s 15-man touring party to visit India.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Queensland were hopeful the allrounder would be training with the state squad within a couple of weeks. He has reportedly already spoken to Phil Jauncey, the sports psychologist who will help Symonds through his rehabilitation program organised by Cricket Australia.

However, Cricket Australia stood firm on Symonds’ situation and told the selectors he was not ready to be considered for the India trip. Aside from a brief statement that shed little light on his situation, Symonds has not spoken publicly since being sent home from Darwin for going fishing when he should have been at a team meeting.

Symonds’ general attitude has been a concern for Australia over the past 12 months, a period during which he was subjected to monkey chants during an ODI series in India and was then at the centre of a racism controversy with India’s Harbhajan Singh. The incident resulted in Harbhajan being initially banned for three Tests but then cleared on appeal.

Adam Gilchrist, Symonds’ former team-mate, believes the batsman remains upset about the racism episodes. “I think it is fair to say that Andrew Symonds is heavily affected by the last year’s incidents,” Gilchrist told CNN-IBN.

“I can’t speak for him as in what he was thinking but it is difficult to explain things. It is a common problem or issue and it is only going to be increased with pressures and intensity and the scrutiny that these players go through.”

The loss of Symonds, who has averaged 77.70 in Tests in the past year, is a big blow to Australia’s middle order ahead of the four-Test tour. Harbhajan, who will play in the series, is keen to put last season’s controversy behind him.

“I would prefer to look forward,” Harbhajan told the Sydney Morning Herald. “He is obviously a great player and there is no doubt about his ability to change a match. He has done a lot for Australian cricket. I hope he is well, and that he is getting better.”

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