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Remembering Andrew Symonds: Hero of Australia’s 2003 WC triumph and T20’s Early Pioneer

Former Australia allrounder Andrew Symonds dies in car accident aged 46 in Northern Queensland

Former Australia allrounder Andrew Symonds dies in car accident aged 46 in Northern Queensland | Walking Wicket (Images ©Getty)
Andrew Symonds dies in car accident aged 46 in Northern Queensland (Images ©Getty)

For the third time in nearly three months, Australian cricket has received another tragic blow as former all-rounder Andrew Symonds, aged 46, has died in a car accident, about 50 kilometers away from Townsville, where he lived after retirement, on the night of May 14.

In an official statement, Queensland Police said that the car, shortly after 11 pm, was being driven on Hervey Range Road, near Alice River Bridge when it left the roadway and rolled as Symonds, who was driving the car and was the sole occupant, died due to severe injuries.

“Australian cricket has lost another of its very best,” Cricket Australia chair Lachlan Henderson said in a statement.

“Andrew was a generational talent who was instrumental in Australia’s success at World Cups and as part of Queensland’s rich cricket history.”

“He was a cult figure to many who was treasured by his fans and friends. On behalf of Australian cricket our deepest sympathies are with Andrew’s family, team-mates and friends.”

Andrew Symonds: Every man’s cricketer

Andrew Symonds played 26 Tests for his country but was probably more renowned for his explosive batting in white ball cricket.

In 198 One Day Internationals, ‘Roy’, as he was universally known as, notched up six centuries combined with 30 half-centuries, while contributing with 133 wickets with his medium pace and off-break bowling. He played a vital role for Australia, in clinching the 2003 and 2007 ICC ODI World Cups.

Besides that, he was part of 14 T20Is, managing 337 runs and eight wickets in his successful career that spanned between 1998 to 2009, after which he showed his skills in franchise cricket too.

Symonds occupied the same place in Australian cricket dreams as Shane Warne and Rod Marsh had; still he wasn’t famous like the other two characters. There was hardly a job on the cricket field that Symonds couldn’t do - in a game, pretty much, all the bases were covered by the England born all-rounder. With bat or with ball, he was a survivor for Australia besides displaying his timeless athleticism on the field.

Symonds’s epochal unbeaten 143 against Pakistan in the 2003 WC rescued Australia

Symonds wasn’t a front-runner to be part of Australia’s squad for the ICC World Cup 2003. Till then he had a mediocre batting average of just around 23. But Australia’s then skipper Ricky Ponting backed him and Symonds got his name in the squad in the wake of the absence of Michael Bevan, Darren Lehmann’s suspension and the ban that Shane Warne received.

Australia had no clue facing the Pakistan duo of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis as they were pushed to 86/4 in 15.5 overs in their first game of the tournament. Symonds first stitched up a 60-run stand with Ricky Ponting who in his own rhythm piled up a half-century. After the latter’s dismissal, Symonds took charge and clubbed away some clean and powerful strokes to celebrate his century in 92 balls with 15 boundaries.

Ponting had placed his faith in having the all-rounder in the World Cup squad and Symonds destroyed all the doubts that others had. Later in the innings, he showed his art of playing with the tail in the same manner to take Australia to 310 thanks to his 143* and helped the side in beginning the campaign with a win over Pakistan by 82 runs.

Former Australia allrounder Andrew Symonds dies in car accident aged 46 in Northern Queensland _ Walking Wicket (Images ©Getty/CA)
Andrew Symonds dies in car accident aged 46 (Images ©Getty/CA)

The common touch in Symonds’s life

A look back at the moment when Symonds had all the gestures and eyes for Michael Clarke.

When Australia and Sri Lanka were facing each other at Docklands in the VB Series 2005-06, Symonds drove Jehan Mubarak uppishly down the ground but the ball clipped non-striker Clarke’s legs and flew in the air before ending its journey in the hands of Tillakaratne Dilshan.

Symonds had a funny smile on his face, least he could have sported at that moment. As players, on and off the ground, along with the spectators wondered about that misfortune, Symonds had his eyes on Clarke and indicated a ‘Beer Thanks’ before leaving the middle with a 61-ball 66 that included four ‘over the rope’ shots.

He was a live wire on the field, doing all the stuff at different points, but off the field Symmo was a great fan of fishing. The master of huge moments, Symonds averaged 163 during the 2003 World Cup in South Africa before averaging 63 in the Caribbean, four year later, to gift Australia two back-to-back trophies.

Symonds - an “ODI” structured Test player

Symonds didn’t crack the Test code that early like the 50-over games. After making his debut back in 2004, he had a few fifties in the early matches but to cement his place in that golden Australian side, he was required to do something extraordinary.

It was the Boxing Day Ashes Test in 2006-2007 that provided him the breakthrough in the longest format of the game with a ferocious 156 before putting his career best 162 against India at SCG in 2008, a game that became more famous because of the controversial ‘Monkeygate’ scandal that involved Harbhajan Singh.

Off-field issues were just a part and parcel of his life, especially in the later part of his career.

A Career that met the start of T20 era

Looking at his character, it feels like Symonds was fairly made to be a T20 giant. His career met the start of the T20 era and his 34-ball century for Kent in 2004 saw him earning a lucrative deal in the Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2008 for Deccan Chargers.

In the next year, Chargers went on to win the second season of league as Symonds made 249 runs along with picking seven wickets in eight games in the campaign. In the final against Royal Challengers Bangalore, Symonds, coming at 18-2 early in the innings, blew away the opponents with a 21-ball 33 that saw four boundaries along with a six.

With ball in hand, he returned figures of 2-18 in three overs, including crucial wickets of Ross Taylor and Virat Kohli.

Symonds, between 2004 and 2007, played 100 ODIs, averaging 47 at a strike rate of 95 besides hunting 67 wickets and being a fantastic fielder in the ring and near the fence.

He set the template for middle-order batting with the likes of Bevan, Michael Hussey and MS Dhoni for the next generation. After retirement, he donned the commentator’s hat with his inputs on the game.

But it is too soon to be gone at 46; his presence with the Australian side could have helped the young legs in gaining experience.

Time had written something else for the big man.

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