Andrew Symonds, who died Saturday night in a car crash at the age of 46, was instantly recognizable on the cricket field with a mop of dreadlocks hanging from his baggy green hat and lips glossy with white zinc cream.
A massive presence at 6 feet 2 inches (1.87 meters) with a smile as broad as his shoulders, he was a highly talented and equally multi-talented player at home bowling or the spirited middle speed.
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Despite his size, Symonds was a graceful and athletic presence on the floor, with bucket-like hands and a laser throw that made him rank as one of the game’s greatest players.
But he was at his most destructive state with a bat in his hands.
Symonds – nicknamed “Roy” – played 26 Tests and 198 games for Australia over 50 in an international career that spanned more than a decade from 1998 to 2009.
A pivotal member of the 2003 and 2007 World Cup winning Australian teams, Symonds took 133 wickets and scored 5,088 points for an average of 39.75 in the figure.
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He’s hit three figures six times in the match over 50 and fifty on another 30 occasions, with a high score of 156 against New Zealand in 2005.
In the tests, most of which were hit sixths, he scored 1,462 with a healthy average of 40.61, with two hundred and 10 fifties.
Symonds was only used as an occasional throwing player in the five-day game, taking only 24 wickets.
His best innings came out of 162 matches against India in the 2008 Sydney New Year’s Test – but was overshadowed by the Monkey Gate scandal that later erupted in that match.
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Symonds accused the vertigo Harbhajan Singh of calling him a “monkey” during a third bad-tempered day.
Singh, who has denied any wrongdoing, was suspended for three matches, but the ban was overturned when India threatened to quit the tour, worsening relations between India and Australia.
– Coming of age –
Symonds was born in Birmingham, England, on June 9, 1975, with parents Ken and Barbara adopting him when he was 15 months old.
They moved to Australia soon after, settling in the rural town of Charters Towers in North Queensland.
Liked by his teammates, the academy coach nicknamed him “Leroy” in the early 1990s who thought he looked like Queensland basketball player Leroy Loggins.
It was shortened to “Roy” and was known affectionately by his nickname for the rest of his life.
In 1995, he declined a call-up from his home country to play for the England A team, and three years later made his one-day international debut with Australia against Pakistan.
Symonds had come of age against the same opponents in the opening match of the 2003 World Cup.
A surprise choice at the behest of Ricky Bunting, Symonds rewarded his captain’s faith with his first international century.
They won 143 in Johannesburg against an attack boasted by all-time greats Waseem Akram, Shoaib Akhtar, Waqar Younes and Shahid Afridi. Symonds’ prestige strengthened to the side.
Symonds loved the simple pleasures of life and no departure from the field was happier than a beer or a fishing rod, though he had problems with alcohol on more than one occasion.
In 2005, he made it to an ODI match against Bangladesh in England who was still drunk from the night before.
In June 2009, Symonds was sent home from World Twenty20 in England due to an “alcohol related incident” and was stripped of his Cricket Australia contract.
After stints in the Indian Premier League with the Deccan Chargers and the Mumbai Indians, Symonds retired in 2011 to become a familiar voice in the comment box.
He also played in the English County Championship for Gloucestershire, Kent and Surrey.
Symonds leaves a wife, Laura, and two young children, Chloe and Billy.
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