Melbourne, Nov.17 : Controversial Australian cricket all-rounder Andrew Symonds has revealed that his excessive drinking was one of the reasons behind his dramatic fall from grace in Australian cricket.
Symonds, now set to be included in Australia's starting XI for Thursday's first Test against New Zealand, was quoted by Fox Sports as saying how he had "turned bad" and started drinking too much following last summer's controversial Monkeygate affair where he felt he had not been supported by Cricket Australia.
"At times I was drinking too much and I wasn't a good bloke to be around. I had turned bad I think with the build-up of the whole of last summer and the things that had unfolded. I wasn't in a great place. Looking back now it probably happened at the right time that I got sent home and told to straighten myself out," Symonds told Channel Nine during an interview.
"I feel much better within myself. Even if I don't come back and play great cricket, I know that I have done something that will improve what I need to be as a person," he added.
The dreadlocked all-rounder has become the latest high-profile Australian sportsperson to admit to excessive drinking. It is not the first time Symonds has had a problem with alcohol. His infamous night on the booze in Cardiff during the 2005 Ashes series almost cost him his Australian contract.
This time it cost him his baggy green cap for the Indian tour and it is believed advice on sensible alcohol consumption was one of the planks of his Cricket Australia-ordered rehabilitation program.
Queensland teammates say Symonds has still enjoyed an occasional beer this season but has now sworn to drink responsibly and make cricket preparation his No.1 priority.
Symonds' axing from the national side also shattered his once great friendship with former best mate and Australian vice-captain Michael Clarke.
He now concedes he had not shown Clarke enough respect - an apparent reference to an argument the pair had in a bar in the West Indies this year.
"I did something silly with him one night and I suppose I was a bit disrespectful to him," Symonds said.
"That relationship is still alive, but to be perfectly honest it is not what it was. We are both making efforts to get it back to where it was because it's a friendship I want to keep."