As the world continues to recover from the tragic news of Andrew Symonds’ passing, we take a look at the celebrated career of a trailblazing cricketer. Symonds probably wasn’t an all-time great, but his charismatic attitude, burly build and flamboyance made him a cricketer hard to ignore. Of course, he could hit the ball a long distance, and would take wickets with his off-spin and medium-pace, but it was his fielding that really stood out from the rest. Symonds’ career was a roller-coaster, a topsy-turvy ride, and while he enthralled on the field with his dynamic skills, there were certain things about Symonds’ life and career which not many are aware of. Here are five of those facts. (Also Read: Harbhajan Singh ‘shocked’ with Andrew Symonds’ sudden demise; pays tribute to former Australia star)
1 Held a distinctive County record for 27 years
Symonds had a decorated County career, having represented Gloucestershire, Lancashire, Surrey and Kent. However, in his first stint in 1995, representing Gloucestershire, a 20-year-old Symonds burst onto the scene and smashed an unbeaten 254. During the course of his inning, Symonds made the most of small boundaries at Abergavenny to hammer 16 sixes, the most in a single innings of a County Championship match. It was a record that stood for 27 years before it was recently broken by England Test captain Ben Stokes earlier this month.
2 Received backing from Ponting to play 2003 World Cup when everyone wanted him out
The 2003 World Cup was Symonds’ coming of age. As Australia won the World Cup for the third time, Symonds scored 326 runs and took two wickets. His knock of 143 against Pakistan shot him to limelight and put him on the map. However, it is really interesting to note that Symonds almost did not make it to the World Cup squad. According to former England cricketer and one of Symonds’ good buddies, Adam Hollioake, the all-rounder wouldn’t have been considered for Australia’s World Cup had it not been for Ricky Ponting going against all odds and backing Symonds to the hilt.
“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’,” Hollioake told Wisden in an interview from 2020. “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.”
3 Gave up his iconic dreadlocks for charity
Symonds sported his iconic dreadlocks for nearly six years, before the hairstyle which became an unmistakable part of his colourful career, became a thing of the past. In 2009, Symonds decided to ditch his dreadlocks for a charity drive and shaved his head on live television on February 14 as part of the World’s Greatest Shave fund-raising event.
4 Highest paid overseas cricketer in first-ever IPL
When the IPL began back in 2008, it was all about MS Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid being the boss players for their respective franchises. However, Symonds created a bit of history of his own as he became the then-costliest overseas player as the Deccan Chargers spent a whopping USD 1.35 million on the all-rounder. Just four days into the IPL, Symonds scored 117 off 53 balls against Rajasthan Royals and played a key role in the franchise winning the title the following season in 2009.
5 Why was he nicknamed Roy?
Symonds was affectionately called ‘Roy’. But did you know how he got the nickname? Symonds had always been a huge basketball fan while growing up and it was due to his resemblance with Aussie great Leroy Loggins who played for Brisbane Bullets, that people began calling him Roy.