DateLine: 28th April 2009
Andrew Symonds is an unabashed six-hitter in the mould of David Hookes. Batting for Gloucestershire at 20, he scythed 16 sixes in the first innings against Glamorgan at Abergavenny, 20 for the match. His flaw has been to attempt one six too many - invariably off the wrong ball.
He graciously ruled himself ineligible for any award at the 2006 Allan Border Medal - he would have been the One-Day Player of the Year - after being suspended for turning up drunk before Australia's embarrassing loss to Bangladesh on the 2005 Ashes tour.
During almost five years in and out of the one-day side he frittered away golden opportunities galore. Striding out with his team in turmoil against Pakistan in the 2003 World Cup, a game and tournament he never expected to play in, Symonds sculpted a masterly 143 not out in 125 balls. Until that day, he had mustered just 762 one-day runs at only 23; ever since he has averaged more than 45. His impact to the limited-overs outfit was shown the following season after he ripped a tendon from his arm playing a fierce drive. Without him the team struggled to its worst losing streak in a decade. Symonds proved he was an incredibly quick healer by entering the World Cup mid-tournament and was part of his second consecutive triumph.
The past year has been easily his best, with 777 runs in nine Tests against Sri Lanka, India and West Indies. The high was an unbeaten 162 in the first innings at the SCG, which was quickly followed by the low of a lengthy race row involving Harbhajan Singh. The problems did not prevent him becoming the most popular overseas player at the Indian Premier League auction, where he sold for $1.35m, and he had four games with the Deccan Chargers. After the tournament he switched back into five-day mode and a pair of half-centuries in the tight opening contest with West Indies showed his growing batting maturity and sense of security at Test level. By the end of the campaign his average was a respectable 44.65.
However, his off-field attitude continued to be a problem and the last straw came when he went fishing in Darwin when he should have been at a team meeting in the lead-up to an ODI series against Bangladesh. Symonds was sent home from the series and not picked for the tour of India in late 2008, although he declared himself keen to return to the top level via state cricket.
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