It is a hollow, sinking and wretched feeling watching your childhood heroes leave this world untimely. When the cricketing world had barely braved the passing of great Australian legend Shane Warne, another woeful news in the early hours of Sunday shook everybody. Andrew Symonds, 46, former Australian all-rounder reportedly died in a fatal car crash which occurred at Hervey Range, about 50km from Townsville.
Queensland Police investigating the crash detailed in a statement, “Early information indicates shortly after 11 pm the car was being driven on Hervey Range Road, near Alice River Bridge when it left the roadway and rolled. Emergency services attempted to revive the 46-year-old driver and sole occupant, however, he died of his injuries.”
Cricketing fraternity shares its grief
Reactions immediately flew in from across the globe to mourn Symonds’ sudden departure. Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting, under whose tenure Symonds played the majority of his career took to Twitter to pen a heartful tribute.
Ponting tweeted, “If Roy shook your hand you had his word, that’s the sort of bloke he was and that’s why I always wanted him on my team. An extraordinary player and even better human being. Can’t believe he’s gone. Thoughts are with his family at this time.”
West Indian great Brian Lara tweeted, “We exchanged messages just hours ago… what’s really going on? Baffled and heartbroken! How could we lose another iconic figure in our sport so soon 💔 RIP Roy Condolences to Andrew’s family and close friends. #unfair”
Meanwhile, Yuzvendra Chahal remarked that he lost his closest man, his Symonds uncle, “Today I have lost my closest man. You were just not a colleague My family, my man My Symonds uncle ❤️ I will miss you terribly RIP 🙏🏻💔”
Andrew Symonds — A true ride or die friend
Of all the obituaries pouring in for Symonds across the horizon of the internet, nearly every essay had one particular theme; Symonds – the ride or die friend. He made everyone feel 10 feet taller with his graciousness. His banter was top drawer, his knowledge unparalleled but most importantly his ability to assimilate everyone into his orbit made him stand apart.
Symonds was the kind of man that stood by you at your worst and picked up the phone whenever you needed that gentle hug or a word of wisdom. His friend and colleague Adam Gilchrist put it rather succinctly, albeit with a tear in the corner of his eye.
People often talk about characters in our game and how it makes the game fascinating. Symonds showed what it meant to be a character and that too, an enviable one at it. He took the centre stage of the play, made it his own canvas, and painted performances that even the most gifted ones would not have been able to conjure. He made the ‘game’ cool.
A complete cricketer that had it all
Andrew had it all. He was a gun batsman, brilliant fielder, versatile bowler and an even greater entertainer. At a time when ODI cricket used to meander at a slow pace, compared to its contemporary version, Symonds conjured scores with unassuming ease and a strike rate over 100. His performance in the Test arena was no different. He knew how to take the game by the scruff of its neck and tilt it in his side’s favour. The baggy green was his most prized possession and he played with all his heart on the big stage.
As an Indian, Symonds really did have the wood on us. On countless occasions, he bailed his team out and left us clutching our hair in agony. But even then, we understood that we were watching a master at work, showcasing his craft.
Symonds may not have been the most aesthetically pleasing batter but he knew how to graft an innings amid searing pressure. He epitomised the Australia of the 2000s with his raw aggression and power.
Throughout his career, Symonds developed a habit of standing up when Australia required him most. The opposition feared and often trembled when a burly Symonds turned up the dial. It was muscular. It was industrious. It was bone-crunching. But it was breathtaking as well.
A genius and a true pioneer
Perhaps, if his prime had come ten years late, he would have been one of the biggest sought-after names in the T20 circuit as he showed in his brief tenure with the now-defunct Deccan Chargers franchise.
However, like any human, Symonds had his flaws and a fair share of controversies. Perhaps it was his honest nature that often rubbed few the wrong way but nothing takes it away from the fact that he was a genius. Make categories and try to place him in one but you will fall short. After all, one cannot categorize the mavericks, can they?
The loss of two great Australian icons within a couple of months will weigh heavy on the cricketing fraternity but here’s to both the legends. Rest in power you two and have a bevy on us.