Andrew Symonds was one of the liveliest characters in the sport with his aggressive batting, agile fielding, and mannerisms on the field. He used to tonk the ball out of the park for fun with his power-hitting for the Australian team that dominated world cricket for a long period of time.
It was a shocking update to hear about the death of the former Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds. He was not just an ordinary cricketer in his playing days but he brought several changes to the approach of the teams. Also, his agile fielding, impressive direct throws, and part-time bowling made him a special player. He used to fire off-breaks as well as medium pace deliveries. Australian team dominated the world cricket for a long period of time and Symonds was instrumental for them playing the role of a destructive batter in the lower order.
Symonds first showed his potential when he hit 16 sixes in his first-class knock of 254 in 1995. During his knock, he registered a record of hitting most sixes in an innings of a first-class game and it stood for a long time. when Symonds made his ODI debut in 1998 against Pakistan at Lahore but didn’t get an opportunity to bat after bowling a couple of overs. Being an all-rounder he wasn’t able to make his mark at the international level and was in and out of the team for five years. He was waiting for his opportunity to shine with the bat and it came in World Cup 2003. However, Symonds almost missed an opportunity to make it to the 2003 World Cup. According to former England cricketer, Adam Hollioake had revealed that Ricky Ponting backed him to be selected for the 2003 ODI World Cup.
"I know a lot of people in Australian cricket didn't want him to go to that World Cup but Ricky Ponting said, 'I want him in there. I don't believe anyone controls Andrew Symonds. I think he does what he wants to do and that's why you want him in your side. You couldn't have four Andrew Symonds' in your team but having one is fantastic – that rogue player. And that's what Ponting saw. He just accepted that Symmo was a bit different and he could do things that other guys couldn't do. He let him have a bit of free rein. And Symmo repaid him." Hollioake told Wisden in an interview in 2020.
It was the match against Pakistan in the 2003 World Cup and Symonds walked in to bat with the Australian team in turmoil. He smashed unbeaten 143 runs from 125 balls against a world-class bowling attack that included Wasim Akram, Shoaib Akhtar, and Waqar Younis. The knock bought out a change in his career and he averaged more than 43 after that. His role in ODI was well defined and he lived up to it very well.
He smashed 5088 runs from 198 ODIs at 39.75 and a strike rate of 92.44. He also had 133 wickets in ODI career bowling off-break as well as medium pace. 2005-06 was impressive for him as he smacked three centuries and picked 21 wickets. He is amongst the few cricketers to score more than 5000 ODI runs and picked more than 100 wickets. Also, the biggest achievement for Symonds would be to play a key role in Australia’s invincible runs in 2003 and 2007 ODI World Cup.
His numbers in Test cricket were average in his initial years. However, the 2007-08 campaign was a turning point for him as he scored 778 runs in nine Tests. The team was looking for a genuine all-rounder and Symonds fulfilled the role to some extent. Along with his aggressive batting, he provided some vital breakthroughs and plucked stunning catches for the team. A sense of maturity prevailed in him in the latter part of his Test career and he ended with 1462 Test runs at 40.61
Symonds was not just an average player but he was a special player who bought a change in the approach of batters. Aggression was his uniqueness it bought the best out of him. He was always vibrant on the field and didn’t hesitate from expressing himself. T20Is was the best suited format for Symonds and so he became the most expensive overseas player in the inaugural auction. He played for Deccan Chargers and Mumbai Indians in IPL. Symonds was from the mold of aggressive batters like Virender Sehwag and Adam Gilchrist and he liked to play lofted shots.
Fielding was another dynamic where he was prolific and used to dismiss batters with his agile fielding efforts. In spite of having a superb career, disciplinary issues haunted him along with on-field altercations. He was sent off from the team several times due to Attitude problems. In the 2009 World T20, he was sent off due to alcohol problems, and also his national contract was canceled. Symond’s considerable decline in commitment and the emergence of young players cut his stay on the national team short.
Symonds will be remembered for his power-hitting, brilliant fielding, and taking wickets occasionally. More than that he will be remembered as a selfless creature who wanted runs in bulk for the team without caring about any milestone. His only flaw was to try to hit too many of them.