Andrew Symonds (9 June 1975 – 14 May 2022) was a former Australian international cricketer, who played all three formats as a batting all-rounder. He was an important member of two World Cup-winning squads. Symonds played as a right-handed, middle-order batsman and alternated between medium pace and off-spin bowling. He was also notable for his exceptional fielding skills.
Since mid-2008, he spent most of the time out of the team, due to disciplinary reasons, including alcohol. In June 2009, he was sent home from the 2009 World Twenty20, his third suspension, expulsion, or exclusion from selection in the space of a year. His central contract was then withdrawn, and many cricket analysts speculated that the Australian administrators would no longer tolerate him and that Symonds might announce his retirement. On 16 February 2012, Symonds announced his retirement from all forms of cricket, in an attempt to concentrate on his family life.
Symonds was killed in a single-vehicle car crash in Townsville, Queensland on 14 May 2022, at the age of 46.
One of Symonds' biological parents was of Afro-Caribbean background and the other was believed to be of Danish or Swedish descent. Symonds' adoptive parents Ken and Barbara moved to Australia shortly after his adoption, when he was three months old. Of the adopted siblings, Louise Symonds participated in Gladiators. He also has two non-adopted siblings. He spent the early part of his childhood in Charters Towers, northern Queensland, where his father Ken taught at the private fee-paying All Souls St Gabriels School, which Andrew attended. He showed sporting prowess from a very early age. "Dad was cricket-mad. He’d throw balls to me five or six days a week, before school, after school. And we’d play all sorts of games inside the house with ping-pong balls and Christmas decorations. Much of his junior cricket was played in Townsville for the Wanderers club, father and son making the 270-kilometre return trip sometimes twice a week. The family later moved to the Gold Coast, where his parents were on the staff of All Saints Anglican School in Merrimac. Symonds was a student at the school.
Overview of cricket career
Symonds was an aggressive right-handed batsman who could also bowl off-spin or medium pace, making him a good all-rounder. He was an exceptional fielder, with a report prepared by Cricinfo in late 2005 showing that since the 1999 Cricket World Cup, he had effected the fifth equal most run-outs in ODI cricket of any fieldsman, with the fourth-highest success rate, with Ricky Ponting rating him the best fielder he has seen, and a better and more versatile one than Herschelle Gibbs and Jonty Rhodes because Symonds was taller than them, giving him better defensive coverage range and had greater throw power outside the circle. He was very agile for his size and weight (medium-heavy build; 187 cm tall), had excellent reflexes, was able to take catches well, and had a powerful and accurate throwing arm. His nickname is Roy, shortened from the name Leroy, after a coach from early in his career believed he resembled local Brisbane NBL hero Leroy Loggins. He was an AIS Australian Cricket Academy scholarship holder in 1994. In 1995, after playing in his first season for English county Gloucestershire, Symonds won the Cricket Writer's Club Young Cricketer of the Year award. Shortly afterward Symonds was selected as part of the England A team that was to tour Pakistan in the winter; however, he decided not to go, instead choosing to pursue an international career for Australia. His place on the tour was later taken by Middlesex player, Jason Pooley.
Australian state cricket
Since making his debut for the Queensland state team in the 1994–95 season Symonds has scored more than 5,000 runs and taken more than 100 wickets for his state. Symonds scored 113 and took four wickets in a losing cause in the Sheffield Shield final in 1999 and was named Man of the Match in the 2002 Pura Cup final after scoring 123 runs and taking six wickets.
Symonds has played for four English counties during his career—Gloucestershire, Kent, Lancashire, and Surrey. Symonds's first appearance for an English county was with Gloucestershire. Initially, he was considered an England-qualified player, however, following his first season of county cricket in 1995 he declared that his allegiances lay with Australia when he chose not to tour Pakistan with the England A team.
In August 1995, he hit a record 16 sixes in his unbeaten 254 against Glamorgan at Abergavenny. In doing so, he beat the previous mark set by New Zealand's John R. Reid. Wisden reported that the 16th six "landed on a tennis court about 20 feet (6.1 m) over the boundary" and "though he was undoubtedly helped by the short boundaries, it would have been hugely effective innings on any ground in the world". Symonds added four more sixes in the second innings, to beat the old record of 17 in a match, set by Warwickshire's Jim Stewart against Lancashire at Blackpool in 1959.
Between 1999 and 2004 Symonds played for Kent. One of the highlights of his time there came on 2 July 2004, when he hit a 43-ball 112 for Kent Spitfires in a Twenty20 Cup match against Middlesex Crusaders.
In July 2005 he signed for Lancashire for the rest of the English season having finished duties as part of Australia's ODI squad.
In April 2010 he signed for Surrey to play in the Friends Provident t20 competition.
Indian Premier League
On 20 February 2008, Symonds signed up with the IPL franchise Deccan Chargers from Hyderabad for US$1,350,000 which made him the second most expensive player in the league at that time. The same team also secured Australian teammate Adam Gilchrist for US$700,000. The IPL commenced on 18 April 2008. On 24 April 2008 Symonds made 117 not out off 53 balls against the Rajasthan Royals. The Royals ended up winning that match as Symonds bowled the last over and conceded 19 runs when the Royals required 17 runs from six balls.
Symonds missed most of the second season of the IPL due to international commitments. However, he played a crucial part in the triumph of his team towards the end of the season.
Symonds started the third season convincingly scoring two 50s in his first three games with the Mongoose Cricket Bat.
In the fourth season, Symonds was contracted by Mumbai Indians for US$850,000.
Although Symonds was originally qualified to play for England due to it being the country of his birth, and West Indies due to his ancestry, in 1995 he decided that he wished to pursue an international career for Australia instead. His international debut came on 10 November 1998, when he played in a One Day International (ODI) for Australia against Pakistan at Lahore. As an ODI player, he is known for scoring runs at an excellent strike rate of over 90, with the highest score of 156.
However, at the start of his international career, Symonds struggled to make an impact with the bat and ball, although his fielding was of high quality, and was not a regular member of the playing XI. He cemented his place in the team in Australia's opening match of the 2003 Cricket World Cup, having been controversially given a lifeline before the start of the tournament when captain Ricky Ponting publicly called for his selection in the team after allrounder Shane Watson had to withdraw due to injury. Australia had no choice but to pick Symonds after their squad was depleted at the start of the campaign; Shane Warne was sent home after failing a drugs test, Darren Lehmann was still serving a suspension for racial abuse, and Michael Bevan was injured.
In the first match against Pakistan, Symonds scored 143* to guide Australia from 4/86 to 8/310, and Australia went on to a heavy victory and won all their matches to claim the World Cup. Following this breakthrough series, Symonds became consistently effective and a core member of the ODI team. Symonds is sometimes branded as a one-day International 'specialist' as his ODI record with both ball and bat is far better than that of his Test match averages.
In March 2004, Symonds made his long-awaited Test debut on Australia's tour of Sri Lanka after showing great form in One Day International cricket in 2003. The decision was regarded as speculative and based on ODI form rather than a proven track record in first-class cricket, and he replaced Simon Katich, who had scored a century and unbeaten fifty in Australia's previous Test.
Playing as a batsman, Symonds encountered difficulty against Muttiah Muralitharan on the dusty, spinning Sri Lankan tracks, failing to pass 25 in any of his four innings, and was dropped after two Test matches in favour of Katich. Australia then continued to pursue its policy of selecting six specialist batsmen in the longer form of the game, and Symonds was not recalled at that time.
He was recalled in November 2005 following the injury to Shane Watson, as Australia's search for an all-rounder continued. After five Tests, with a batting average of 12.62 and a bowling average of 85.00, his position in the team was under a cloud until the 2005 Boxing Day Test. On the first day of the match, he was out caught behind for a golden duck. Then, with his batting average threatening to drop under 10 and bowling average pushing 100, Symonds took 3/50 in the South African first innings before blasting 72 off 54 balls in the second innings (including a new Australian record for the fastest Test fifty—40 balls) and taking 2/6. For his performances in 2005, he was named in the World ODI XI by the ICC.
At the 2006 Allan Border Medal count, Symonds would have won the One Day player of the year award as he polled the most votes but was ineligible due to a late night of drinking which led to him turning up still inebriated to a match against Bangladesh, after which he was suspended. Symonds won Player of the Series in the 2005–06 Australian VB Series. For his performances in 2006, he was named the 12th man in the World ODI XI by the ICC.
While batting in the second Test in the Australian 2006 tour of South Africa, Symonds was struck in the face of his helmet by a bouncer off Makhaya Ntini. Symonds required four stitches on the inside of his upper lip. Struggling for reliable impact, Symonds was again dropped at the end of this series.
Following the retirement of Damien Martyn during the Ashes in 2006–07, Symonds was again recalled to the team. Scoring just 26 and 2 in his first Test back he found himself under pressure to justify his place in the team. In the Boxing Day, Test Symonds faced his biggest challenge when arriving at the crease with Australia in deep trouble at 5/84. After a slow start to his innings, he proceeded to score his maiden Test century, combining with his good friend Matthew Hayden to put on a 279-run partnership and bringing up the century with a six. Symonds was finally dismissed for 156.
Although selected in Australia's 15-member World Cup squad he was unavailable for selection for the first few matches because he ruptured his biceps while batting against England on 2 February 2007 in the Commonwealth Bank Tri-Series. Surgery was performed and Symonds underwent extensive physical rehabilitation. As a result, he missed the remainder of that tournament as well as the Chappell–Hadlee Trophy in New Zealand while Australia suffered their longest losing streak in over a decade. Symonds remarkably made a relatively quick recovery after returning for Australia's win in their last preliminary World Cup match against South Africa. He bowled the final ball of the 2007 Cricket World Cup that was hosted in the West Indies. The final was contested between Australia and Sri Lanka and was shortened to 38/36 overs per side due to rain throughout the day. Even the final few overs of the Sri Lanka innings were played in almost darkness.
For his performances in 2008, he was named in the World ODI XI by the ICC.
Symonds was killed in a single-vehicle road accident in Townsville, Queensland on 14 May 2022, at the age of 46. Queensland Police said in a statement that Symonds was driving on Hervey Range Road near the Alice River Bridge when his car left the road and rolled at around 10:30 pm. Symonds was the only occupant of the car at the time of the crash. Paramedics responded and attempted to revive him, but Symonds was pronounced dead.