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Sydney – Andrew Symonds, who died on Saturday night in a car crash aged 46, 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 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.
— Shikhar Dhawan (@SDhawan25) May 15, 2022
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.
1,462 Test runs @ 40.61
24 Test wickets @ 37.33
5,088 ODI runs @ 39.75
133 ODI wickets @ 37.25
One iconic shoulder tackle 🐐
Andrew Symonds was a seriously good cricketer. pic.twitter.com/thGkoZg49v
— Cricket on BT Sport (@btsportcricket) May 14, 2022
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 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.
Shocking and saddening to hear of Andrew Symonds passing. May his soul RIP and God give strength to his family in this difficult moment. 🙏🏻
— Virat Kohli (@imVkohli) May 15, 2022
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 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.