Teammates, rivals and fans have shared an outpouring of grief and love for Andrew Symonds after the cricket champion died in a car accident near Townsville on Saturday night.
Former Australian coach John Buchanan told ABC News Breakfast Symonds was a close friend whose ability to bounce back from mistakes was one of his most endearing features.
“(He was) somebody that I always admired in terms of the way he went about his cricket, but also the principles that he held dear to him,” Buchanan said.
“And at 46, it’s certainly way too early for someone like that to depart our world.”
Buchanan held a long relationship with Symonds, having overseen his emergence in Queensland state teams before guiding him through his introduction to Test cricket.
“Whenever I think of Roy, I see a young guy full of life, always wanting to please, always wanting to entertain, a big wad of white zinc across his lip, a big floppy hat a lot of times, later in his career, the dreadlocks, “Buchanan said.
“But also a person of incredible athleticism, a person who could do things on the cricket field that very few could do. A person that really grew into his cricketing life.
“He was always an incredible talent, from the time he stepped straight onto the field in Gloucestershire as a 19 -year-old. But his true home was Australia, and that’s where he wanted to be. And we first saw that talent when he played against England in Toowoomba in 1994. “
Buchanan said Symonds was a leader of the team, even if not in an official respect.
“Roy was never perfect, that was for sure, and he never admitted that he was,” he said.
“You know, he made poor decisions, like all of us do, at different stages of his life and different stages in his cricket career.
“But the one thing about Roy – and one of the things that I think endeared him to most people – was that even though he made a mistake, he would openly admit that and try to rectify that and take full accountability for that.
“And so when he saw other people that were probably treading the same path, he was certainly one of the first people to come forward and try to put them on the right direction.
“You know, I always saw him as a leader in our team without a title. He was a person that had strong leadership values but certainly did not wear the stripes of the leader, but demonstrated how the game should be played, and how people should conduct themselves. “
Lara, Tendulkar send messages of grief
Former teammates and rivals alike paid tribute to Symonds once the news of his death was made public.
“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,” former Australia test captain Ricky Ponting said.
“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 said he and Symonds had recently spent time together at Shane Warne’s memorial, and had sent text messages to each other the day before the crash.
“We were just sipping on a beer celebrating Warnie’s life and enjoying each other’s company,” Lara said.
“Our great friendship and respect for each other started the very first minute we met in battle. You were such a competitor doing any and everything for your team.
“You also made friendship so easy, I loved the spontaneous phone calls and messages. You reached out just yesterday ‘how are you champ’, ‘all good Mr Symonds, how things with you’.
“Well all is not good anymore I will miss you and I’m devastated.
“You were a champion bloke and the cricket world will miss you. We have lost another great human being.”
Indian spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, who was a teammate of Symonds at Mumbai Indians in 2011, was struggling to process his death.
“Today I have lost my closest man,” he tweeted.
“You were just not a colleague. My family, my husband, My Symonds uncle. I will miss you terribly.”
Indian great Sachin Tendulkar tweeted: “Andrew Symonds’ demise is shocking news for all of us to absorb.
“Not only was he a brilliant all-rounder, but also a live-wire on the field.
“I have fond memories of the time we spent together in Mumbai Indians. May his soul rest in peace, condolences to his family & friends.”
Symonds’ death comes soon after the passing of Australian cricket legends Shane Warne and Rod Marsh.
Witnesses reveal details of aftermath
New details have emerged from the crash after Symonds’s car left the road and rolled into Hervey Range, about 50km from Townsville.
Waylon Townson tried to save Symonds after hearing the crash and rushing to the scene.
“He was stuck in there, so I tried to pull him out,” Mr Townson told 9News.
“[I] started doing CPR and checked his pulse but I did not get much response. “
Another witness said Symonds was traveling with his two dogs, which reportedly did not want to leave his side after the crash.
“One of them was very sensitive and did not want to leave him,” she said.
“It would just growl at you every time we tried to move him or go near him.”
AAP / ABC
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