We wanted Andrew Symonds to succeed in this Test, we really did. Not only has he been great to watch when on-song in the one-day arena but he also seems like one of cricket’s good blokes. And that’s surely reason enough to warrant a place in the side.

Despite the fact that he played his part with the ball in England’s first innings, capturing the scalps of Andrew Flintoff and Gerraint Jones, in all reality, the big Queenslander’s* major role in this team is as a number six batsman.

Unfortunately, his scores of 26 and two were again disappointing, particularly when you consider that other than Langer, who copped a handy one first-up from Hoggard in the first ball of the Aussies’ second dig, each of the five other Australian batsmen made scores of 75 or more on a pretty benign track. Hell, both of England’s openers even scored over 50 on it!

Admittedly, it would have been a tough call for ‘Roy’ to come into the team knowing that he was realistically only a stop gap for the injured Shane Watson – who has since been ruled out of the Ashes series after suffering yet another hamstring tear – but this was Symonds’ 11th Test and he is still yet to register any meaningful contribution with the bat.

Michael Clarke was in a similar boat to Symonds in Brisbane, and he has since thrived under the pressure of knowing that he could be headed back to Pura Cup cricket should he fail to produce.

In much the same way as it did for Clarke, Watson’s recurring hamstring injury has opened the door a little for Symonds, especially in the absence any other all-round candidate demanding a place in the Boxing Day Test. No less than Steve Waugh offered him support in his daily column today and he would seem a likely starter for at least the Melbourne Test.

It should be remembered that he is still only 31, meaning he could have another five years at the top level. He was also a slow starter in the one day form of the game, and he is now widely regarded as one of the most dangerous players in the world.

But you’d reckon that if he can’t fire in the Boxing Day or New Year’s (if he lasts that long) Tests, his reprieve will be short-lived and his Test career will be as good as over.

*Yes, we know that’s the name usually reserved for Matt Hayden, but in the interests of a much-needed succession plan, we thought it was time to share it around.

Peter Fray

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