Australia have chosen Andrew “Roy” Symonds to replace Damien Martyn in the middle order for the Third Test, a selection that is strongly suggestive of Ricky Ponting’s clout at the selection table. Symonds, to my mind, has not done anything of note to justify his inclusion in Australian first class cricket this season, but Ponting’s faith in Symonds has been unbound for a long time.
I hope he’s as right as he was when as captain of the 2003 World Cup team, he demanded Symonds be included, despite the general consensus of pundits and wise men that Symonds, for all his talents, was a ne’er do well. He had been given multiple opportunites in ODI games since 1999 and had not taken them. However, Ponting’s faith that he would deliver when it mattered in one-day cricket was proved spectacularly correct in 2003, and he’s been doing it ever since.
And the likes of me have been happy to be proved wrong to boot.
Last summer, Symonds finally made his Test debut, and oddly enough a similar story of underperformance and hestitance that marked his early ODI career returned. He lost his place in the side, but clearly he hasn’t lost the confidence of his captain.
And I certainly hope that Ponting is right. For if Symonds unleashes as we all know that he can, then he can be the most devastating striker in world cricket.
He also brings some more bowling options for Ponting. The once feared WACA pitch is now on life support, with ground-staff scouring the West Australian countryside for the right sort of soil to bring it back to its old self. There is hope that it can be revived for the 2010/11 Ashes series, but this time around, it is likely to be a near-death experience for pace bowlers.