Adios, Roy - the man of big stages
As a tragic car crash takes the life of Andrew Symonds, the cricket world mourns in utter disbelief and shock.
The former Aussie all-rounder was a two-time World Champion and a man who used to be on top of his game in the biggest stages of cricket. If we talk about two Aussie middle-order batters who always stepped up in important matches when the team was in deep trouble, one has to be Michael Bevan and the other, Andrew Symonds.
Talking about big stages, nothing gets bigger than the Cricket World Cup, and Andrew Symonds holds the record of the highest average in ICC Cricket World Cups (min 500 runs) averaging 103.00. The all-rounder played a vital role in the consecutive World Cup wins by Australia in 2003 and 2007.
In the 2003 World Cup's group stage, Australia were 85/4 against Pakistan when Symonds walked in to bat.
He faced the likes of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Shoaib Akhtar, Abdul Razzaq and Shahid Afridi with ease and played some characteristic shots through cover, cutting it effortlessly, and hitting down the ground. He scored 143* off just 125 and took Australia to 310.
In the semi-final of the same tournament, Australia were in trouble on 51/3 against Sri Lanka. Andrew Symonds displayed his backfoot strength once again and hit some big ones down the ground and over cover to score 91* off 118 and won it for Australia, again.
His 151 off 127 is regarded as one of the best innings of his career and it was a big occasion as well, unsurprisingly. It was the 2nd final of the VB series 2006, which was a tri-nation series between Australia, South Africa and Sri Lanka.
Australia were 10/3 in 3 overs and a big score looked improbable. Andrew Symonds started off with aggression, not allowing the bowlers to pressurise him.
He gave Kulasekara, Ruchira Perera, Chaminda Vaas and even Muralitharan a tough time hitting it all around the ground, going over the infield often, and hammering it through the covers.
He built a 237-run partnership with Ponting, hitting 13 fours and 3 sixes and took Australia to 368/5 which ended up as too big a score for Sri Lanka to chase.
Symonds' Commonwealth-Bank series final score of 91 off 101 in 2005 against Pakistan also explains how important and impactful he was as a batter.
As a bowler, he was also useful at times. His off-spin would often be used by Ricky Ponting to bring sudden breakthroughs. He bowled medium pace at times and has 165 international wickets to his name.
As a fielder, he had a good arm. His direct hits are famous across generations.
Put simply, as a cricketer, he was a complete package. In Ponting's words, he was an extraordinary player and an even better human being.
"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," Ponting wrote on Twitter.
Andrew Symonds will always be in the history books as one of the most complete world-class cricketers. Farewell Roy, the man of big stages.