London:Australia will be forced into a late change of plan when they begin their quest for the ICC World Twenty20 title against the West Indies at the Oval on Saturday now that Andrew Symonds has been sent home.
The controversial all-rounder was given his marching orders following an alcohol related incident that may well have brought down the curtain on the Queensland star's international career.
This is not the first time Symonds has been undone in this way - he was dropped for two matches during Australia's 2005 tour of England after turning up on the morning of their shock one-day loss to Bangladesh in Cardiff the worse for wear.
Symonds's absence robs Australia of one of the world's leading Twenty20 players. A hard hitting batsman, brilliant fielder and a bowler capable of both medium pace and spin, Symonds ought to be a captain's dream in this format.
That was certainly the view of the Deccan Chargers, winners a few weeks ago of the Indian Premier League, who paid 1.35 million dollars for the services of the Birmingham-born Symonds.
However, Australia know what it is like to be rocked by a late withdrawal - leg-spin great Shane Warne sustained a drugs ban on the eve of their unbeaten run to the 2003 World Cup title in South Africa - and still do well.
And experienced fast bowler Brett Lee said of Symonds: "He's a world-class player and to leave a gap like that is not great for the Australian team but we always find a way to fill a void."
Much now will depend on Australia captain Ricky Ponting to get the side back on track.
The Tasmanian remains one of the world's best batsmen in all forms of the game and Ponting looked in superb touch while making 56 during a warm-up win over New Zealand this week.
"He has let himself down, let all his team-mates down and Cricket Australia down," was Ponting's blunt assessment of Symonds's actions.
"It probably throws the balance a little bit in our side but the beauty of our side is that there is a lot of flexibility within the group."
In the short term Australia, who have called up Cameron White to the squad as a replacement, could promote either one of Michael or David Hussey up the order with David Hussey's off-spin a useful bowling option in the Twenty20.
Given their off-field problems, Australia could have had a worse opener than a match against the West Indies, who have been beaten comprehensively by England in Tests, one-dayers and most recently a Twenty20 warm-up this season.
West Indies captain Chris Gayle though did hammer 88 in a nine-wicket warm-up win over minnows Ireland this week and, in a format which more than any other type of cricket can see games won by one player alone, the left-handed opener remains a significant force.
"This is a fresh start," said Gayle after his innings against Ireland. And now those words don't just apply to his team.
Australia (from): Ricky Ponting (capt), Michael Clarke, Nathan Bracken, Brad Haddin (wkt), Nathan Hauritz, Ben Hilfenhaus, James Hopes, David Hussey, Mike Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Peter Siddle, David Warner, Shane Watson, Cameron White
West Indies (from): Chris Gayle (capt), Denesh Ramdin (wkt), Lionel Baker, Sulieman Benn, David Bernard, Dwayne Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Fidel Edwards, Andre Fletcher, Xavier Marshall, Kieron Pollard, Darren Sammy, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Lendl Simmons, Jerome Taylor
Pitch: Even paced batting surface should also assist spinners
Umpires: Asad Rauf (PAK) and Aleem Dar (PAK)
TV umpire: Mark Benson (ENG)
Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle (SRI)