Pup, Roy no longer on speaking terms

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Brisbane (Australia), Dec. 20 (ANI): Former Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds has revealed his friendship with Australia vice-captain Michael Clarke is over in the wake of his tumultuous exit from international cricket.

Symonds said he and Clarke had "gone our separate ways" and were no longer on speaking terms.

The Queenslander also lamented the loss of characters in cricket, saying Australia's elite players had lost touch with fans because they were too concerned with maintaining an image.

Clarke and Symonds had forged one of the strongest bonds in the national team after going bush for a month after Australia's tour of Bangladesh in 2006.

But cracks in the mate ship appeared last year, when Clarke was part of the leadership group that agreed to send Symonds home for going fishing during a training camp in Darwin.

"We've gone our separate ways and that's the way it has stayed. That's all right, though, " Fox Sports quoted Symonds, as saying.

"I haven't talked to Michael for a long time. I wouldn't know what he's up to," he added.

Asked if he was still mates with Clarke, he said: "No, I'm not. A lot of people have asked me what Michael is like. The way he is being portrayed is interesting because people are asking me a lot about him. I don't know the answer. I'm not in the inner circle anymore. I'd be guessing if I answered that."

Clarke declined to comment publicly, but said he made a series of attempts to repair his relationship with Symonds, including pushing for his recall to the Australia side for the one-day series against Pakistan in Dubai in April.

Sources confirmed the pair's friendship began to sour in April last year, when Symonds was asked to leave Clarke's engagement party after a row with guests.

Despite their contrasting backgrounds, Clarke, a self-confessed city slicker, and Symonds, a bushie at heart, hit it off during a road trip around Australia three years ago.

The pair attended former Test batsman Damien Martyn's wedding in Western Australia. They later flew to Sydney, hired a camper van for a trip to Brisbane and hung out in Newcastle, Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour and Byron Bay.

When Symonds took Clarke to a bush property outside of Ingham in Queensland, it was Clarke's first taste of the outback and he recalled it as the trip that altered his perspective on life.

"Both Symo and I had things on our chest that only close friends talk about," Clarke once said.

Symonds says part of their breakdown can be traced to the "Gone Fishing" affair.

"It was a number of things," Symonds says.

"I guess we just didn't pan out like we would have or should have. I haven't heard from him," said Symonds.

Symonds said the health of Test cricket in Australia was suffering due to a dearth of personalities.

"They (Cricket Australia) can't rely on great players now (to attract crowds) ... isn't there a big mob of marketing people working out there?" he said.

"Players are very stiff now on what they can say. They are very calculating on how they answer their questions and I think the public would appreciate seeing some characters and players who are being honest with their answers, rather than giving some stereotypical answer. They want to see some free spirits. Whether we will get that, I don't know. A lot of players worry about what is written about them, rather than giving an honest answer," he said. (ANI)

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