Roy rage: ‘CA playing God with our game’
ANDREW Symonds has lashed out at the pampered culture of modern cricket and claims it has eroded the treasured status of the baggy green cap.
The straight-shooting former all-rounder says Australian players are given too many soft landings and believes a feeling of contentment has led to an alarming loss of hunger to reach the pinnacle of Test cricket.
Symonds declared 'wellness tests', sleep charts and 'playing God' with the integrity of the Sheffield Shield has not only ruined the culture but also impacted on the patchy performances of the national team.
According to Symonds, Cricket Australia's claims of transparency in the wake of the damning cultural review is "the biggest load of horse shit you've ever heard in your life" and called on administrators to urgently restore trust across the game, or fall on their swords.
Symonds knows first-hand what it's like to lose faith in administrators having been stitched up by CA over Monkeygate, something he opens up about in the latest Howie Games Podcast with fellow Fox Sports commentator, Mark Howard.
Cricket Australia's independent review is 145 pages long and contains 42 recommendations, but in one sentence Symonds sums the cultural crisis up as the depreciation of what the once sacred baggy green means to Australian cricketers.
"It has to be. It has to be that. As a kid growing up, you wanted to play Test cricket. That hunger, I believe is gone," Symonds said.
"Not from all players, but from some. They're happy to go around the world and just play white ball cricket and that to me, is extraordinary.
"Why wouldn't you want to try and play Test cricket for your country? I suppose the answer to that is they don't have any drive to do it. They don't need to. Financially they can go and earn a very good living and not even have to worry about that."
Symonds spotlights the breakdown in trust between players and administrators as the long-term trend of Cricket Australia pulling players in and out of Shield matches willy-nilly like it's an amateur league.
Cricket Australia argue that this is only done when it's in the interests of the national team, but Symonds is adamant the way to truly serve the Australian Test side is to stop making the once hard-nosed State competition a Mickey Mouse training field.
"Soft-landings", Symonds argues, is the biggest blight on the game.
"There's so many employees and so many boxes that have got to be ticked every day. They do a thing and it's a wellness test. 'How did you sleep last night?'" said Symonds.
"If you don't want to play for your country, go and do something else.
"Yes, you're going to get tired. Yes, you're going to get sore. And yes, that's all got to be managed. But have we really got to pamper and pander to these blokes that badly that this is where we're at?
"Cricket Australia playing God to the game and pulling blokes out of Shield games and putting blokes in. That's not in the rules. That's not how you do it. That's now how you go about it.
"If I was Queensland captain (a couple of years ago when Mitchell Starc was injected for one innings for NSW to prepare for a Test) I would have walked off the field.
"That's a slap in the face. If a bloke isn't finishing a game, he doesn't play. It's that simple.
"When I see that stuff going on I think, there is something going to go wrong here very soon. If you're allowing that sort of behaviour to go on then you're asking for trouble because people just think they can do what they like."
Symonds said the only way key figures like Chairman David Peever, chief executive Kevin Roberts and high performance manager Pat Howard can maintain credibility with the players is if they immediately cut the crap.
"The biggest thing that's happened the last few years is they give you a bit of lip service just to make sure they're being seen to be (communitive). You don't want. You want honesty and everyone to know where they stand," he said.
"They talk about the transparency of Australian cricket. That's the biggest load of horse shit you've ever heard in your life. There's that many secrets, imagine the book they'd be able to write."