World cricket is mourning the death of Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds, Richard Spiller reflects on the all-rounder’s brief but lasting impact at Surrey CCC.
There was a cruel irony that two of Andrew Symonds’ former teams should be playing each other as news broke of his death at the age of 46. The Australian all-rounder died following a car accident in Queensland, Australia. He leaves a wife and two children.
Kent and Surrey were two of the counties to benefit from the services of Symonds, who played 26 Tests, 198 ODIs and 14 T20 internationals – over a period of 11 years from 1998.
Bare figures do not explain his value given he was an explosive strokemaker who could turn a match within a few overs, capable of bowling both medium-pace and spin while being a brilliant and eye-catching fielder.
T20 was in its infancy in the second half of his career and although he featured in the IPL, his powers were waning by then. That was also the case when he joined Surrey for the Friends Provident T20 campaign in 2010 but he still showed glimpses of his old powers, not least against Kent.
In the first meeting of the teams, at The Oval, he smashed seven sixes in a 32-ball blast of 62 which elevated the hosts to 150-7 and ensured victory by 15 runs (DL) in a rain-affected match. Five days later the sides did battle again at Beckenham where teenager Jason Roy hit Surrey’s (and his own) maiden T20 century, his 101 in 57 balls taking the visitors to 201-4.
Although Martin van Jaarsveld’s 82 gave Kent a chance, Symonds weighed in with 5-18 from three overs which brought a 38-run win for Surrey. However, It was what happened after the match which made a huge impression on Gareth Batty, a member of that team and now Surrey’s interim head coach..
“What really sticks in my mind is the way he spent 20 minutes talking with Jason after that game. He knew it was a hugely important step in Jason’s career and having a top international player taking that kind of interest made a big impact on Jason.
“He didn’t do it in a showy way, because that wasn’t his style, but he was determined that everyone should be aware of what a big moment it was for Jason. I’m sure Jason remembers it to this day.”
Sadly the presence of Symonds could not ensure a place in the quarter-finals but there will be many happy memories of an eventful life and career cut tragically short. He was an integral member of the Australian team which won two World Cups, his blistering 156 at Melbourne in a long and bruising partnership with Matthew Hayden doing much to ensure England were whitewashed in the 2006-07 Ashes.
Kent and Surrey’s players observed a minute’s silence before the final day of their LV County Championship match in tribute to Andrew Symonds.