Australian cricketer Andrew Symonds dies in car crash

By: AFP
Published: 09:21 AM, 15 May, 2022
Australian cricketer Andrew Symonds dies in car crash
Caption: File photo.
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Swashbuckling former all-rounder Andrew Symonds has been killed in a car crash, Cricket Australia said Sunday, in another tragic blow for the sport after the recent deaths of fellow greats Shane Warne and Rod Marsh.

The 46-year-old, who played 26 Tests and 198 one-day internationals for Australia from 1998 to 2009, was involved in a single-car accident outside Townsville in Queensland state on Saturday night.

 

Police said emergency services attempted to revive the driver and sole occupant, but he died from his injuries after the car left the road and rolled.

"Australian cricket has lost another of its very best," Cricket Australia chairman 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," he added. 

Symonds' fatal crash comes just months after the deaths of fellow Australian greats Warne and Marsh, who both died unexpectedly from heart attacks.

"Unfortunately I've been here too often this year under these circumstances. I actually can't quite believe it, to be honest," former Australia captain Mark Taylor told Channel Nine. "Another tragic day for cricket."

The larger-than-life Symonds was hugely popular, not only for his hard-hitting approach to the game but also for his easy-going personality.

He was widely considered one of the most skilled all-rounders Australian cricket has seen, bowling both off-spin and medium pace, while playing many match-winning hands with his explosive middle-order batting. 

Symonds was also a top-rate fielder and was a key part of Australia's back-to-back 50-over World Cups triumphs in 2003 and 2007. 

Domestically, he played for Queensland for 17 seasons, while appearing for Gloucestershire, Kent, Lancashire and Surrey in the English County Championship and for Deccan Chargers and Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League.

- Utterly devastated' -

"Horrendous news to wake up to," tweeted former Australian teammate Jason Gillespie. "Utterly devastated. We're all gonna miss you mate."

Adam Gilchrist, another former teammate who more recently commentated alongside Symonds at Fox Sports, wrote: "This really hurts," while Pakistani fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar said he was "devastated".

Former England skipper Michael Vaughan said: "Simmo ... this doesn't feel real #RIP."

Symonds, who was born in England with one parent of Afro-Caribbean descent, will also be remembered for the infamous "monkeygate" scandal that sent him into a downward spiral.

He accused India spinner Harbhajan Singh of calling him a "monkey" in Sydney's 2008 New Year Test.

Singh, who denied any wrongdoing, was suspended for three matches. The ban was overturned when India threatened to quit the tour in a low point for India-Australia cricket relations.

The Australian player later revealed it took a heavy toll.

"From that moment on that was my downhill slide," he recalled in 2018. "I started to drink heavily as a result of it and my life was starting to dissolve around me."

His Cricket Australia contract was withdrawn in June 2009 after he was sent home from the World Twenty20 in England following the latest in a series of alcohol-related indiscretions.

Despite the animosity, Symonds and Harbhajan eventually made up and played together in the Indian Premier League, with the Australian forging a successful career as a respected television commentator after retiring.

All-round great loved by teammates

Andrew Symonds was instantly recognisable on the cricket field with a mop of dreadlocks poking out from his baggy green cap and lips gleaming with white zinc cream.

A hulking presence at 6ft 2in (1.87m) with a grin as broad as his shoulders, he was a supremely talented all-rounder equally at home bowling spin or lively medium-pace.

Despite his size, Symonds was a lithe and athletic presence on the ground, with safe bucket-like hands and a laser throw that saw him rated one of the game's greatest fielders. 

But he was at his most destructive with a bat in his hands.

Symonds -- nicknamed "Roy" -- played 26 Tests and 198 50-over games for Australia in an international career spanning more than a decade, from 1998 until 2009.

A pivotal member of Australia's 2003 and 2007 ODI World Cup-winning sides, Symonds took 133 wickets and scored 5,088 runs at an average of 39.75 in that format. 

He passed three figures six times in the 50-over game and fifty on 30 more occasions, with a top score of 156 against New Zealand in 2005. 

In Tests, mostly batting at number six, he scored 1,462 runs at a healthy average of 40.61, with two hundreds and 10 fifties. 

Symonds was used only as an occasional bowler in the five-day game, taking just 24 wickets.

His best innings of 162 not out came against India in the Sydney New Year Test of 2008 -- but it was overshadowed by the "Monkeygate" scandal that erupted later in that match. 

Symonds accused spinner Harbhajan Singh of calling him a "monkey" during an ill-tempered third day.

Singh, who denied any wrongdoing, was suspended for three matches, but the ban was overturned when India threatened to quit the tour, sending India-Australia cricket relations hit a low point.

- Coming of age -

Symonds was born in Birmingham, England, on June 9, 1975, with his parents Ken and Barbara adopting him when he was 15 months old.

They moved to Australia soon after, settling down in the rural northern Queensland town of Charters Towers.

Loved by teammates, he was dubbed "Leroy" by an academy coach in the early 1990s who thought he looked like Queensland basketball player Leroy Loggins.

It got shortened to "Roy" and he was affectionately known by the sobriquet for the rest of his life.

In 1995, he turned down a call-up from his country of birth to play for England A, and three years later made his one-day international debut for Australia against Pakistan.

It was against the same opponents in the opening match of the 2003 World Cup that Symonds came of age.

A surprise selection at the behest of Ricky Ponting, Symonds rewarded his captain's faith with his first international century.

The match-winning 143 was made in Johannesburg against an attack boasting all-time greats Wasim Akram, Shoaib Akhtar, Waqar Younis and Shahid Afridi. It cemented Symonds' place in the side.

Symonds liked life's simple pleasure and away from the field was never happier than with a beer or a fishing rod in hand, though he had problems with alcohol on more than one occasion.

In 2005, he arrived for an ODI against Bangladesh in England still drunk from the night before.

In June 2009, Symonds was sent home from the World Twenty20 in England due to "an alcohol-related incident" and he was stripped of his Cricket Australia contract.

After stints in the Indian Premier League with Deccan Chargers and Mumbai Indians, Symonds retired in 2011 to become a familiar voice in the commentary 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.

AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.