World cricket is mourning the shock loss of another Australian great.
This comes as tributes flow for former Test star and two-time World Cup winner Andrew Symonds, who was killed in a car crash in Queensland.
The 46-year-old “cult figure” was involved in a single-vehicle accident late on Saturday.
Queensland Police are investigating the crash, which occurred at Hervey Range, about 50km from Townsville.
“Early information indicates shortly after 11pm the car was being driven on Hervey Range Road, near Alice River Bridge when it left the roadway and rolled,” a police statement read.
“Emergency services attempted to revive the 46-year-old driver and sole occupant, however, he died of his injuries.”
Symonds death comes barely two months after the deaths of legspin legend Shane Warne at age 52 and wicketkeeping great Rod Marsh at 74, both from heart attacks.
Cricket Australia chair Lachlan Henderson said: “Australian cricket has lost another of its very best. Andrew was a generational talent who was instrumental in Australia’s success at World Cups and as part of Queensland’s rich cricket history.
“He was a cult figure to many who was treasured by his fans and friends.
“On behalf of Australian cricket our deepest sympathies are with Andrew’s family, team-mates, and friends.”
Symonds played 26 Tests for Australia, scoring 1462 runs at 40.61 and picking up 24 wickets with his handy off spin and medium pace bowling.
His brilliant 162 not out against India in the 2008 Sydney Test helped Australia to a 122-run victory, but the game would later be mired in controversy over the Monkeygate affair.
Symonds accused Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh of calling him a “monkey”, triggering a war of words between the two teams and a threat by India to return home after Singh was initially suspended for three games.
But it was in the white-ball arena where the man they called “Roy” really excelled.
A crowd favourite in the short-form game, the big-hitting allrounder played 198 one-day internationals, clobbering 5088 runs and taking 133 wickets.
The Queenslander was also a brilliant fielder, renowned for pulling off a spectacular run out or outrageous catch just when his team needed it.
Symonds was an integral part of Australia’s Word Cup-winning campaigns in 2003 and 2007, performing with bat, ball and in the field.
His 143 against a Wasim Akram-led Pakistan in Australia’s opening match of the 2003 tournament in Johannesburg announced his arrival to the cricket world.
The dreadlocked right-hander’s match-winning knock came from just 125 deliveries and featured 18 fours and two sixes.
At the time it was the highest score by an Australian at a World Cup.
In the semi-final against Sri Lanka, Symonds came to the crease with his side struggling at 3-53.
He scored an undefeated 91 to help the defending champions reach 7-212, which proved too much for the Sri Lankans in a rain-affected match.
Ricky Ponting’s men were easy victors over India in the final.
Australia didn’t need too many heroics from Symonds in the 2007 World Cup, cruising through the pool games and easily defeating Sri Lanka in the decider in Barbados.
Symonds finished his twin World Cup campaigns with two winners’ medals, an average of 103, a strike rate of 93.29 and the adulation of fans around the world.
“I think it’s the fear factor he puts into the opposition because he can clear the boundary on a regular basis,” former Australian captain Ian Chappell said of Symonds.
“He is going to create some run outs for you. He’ll take a blinding catch and he has been very, very tidy with the ball now for a long time.”
In recent years Symonds had worked as a TV commentator for Fox Sports and was a regular on the microphone for Big Bash League broadcasts.
THE WORLD REACTS:
“I can’t quite believe it. Another tragic day for cricket. Bad things do happen in threes – Rod Marsh earlier this year, not long after that obviously Shane Warne and now Simmo. Another terrible day for cricket.” – former Australian captain Mark Taylor.
“This really hurts.” – former Australian teammate Adam Gilchrist.
“Simmo .. This doesn’t feel real.” – former England captain Michael Vaughan.
Devastated to hear about Andrew Symonds passing away in a car crash in Australia. We shared a great relationship on & off the field. Thoughts & prayers with the family.” – Pakistan great Shoaib Akhtar
“Horrendous news to wake up to. Utterly devastated. We are all gonna miss you mate.” – former Australian teammate Jason Gillespie.
“Hearts broken again…if we were Ted Lasso, he was our Roy Kent…called it straight..didn’t do fluff…was true to himself…loyal…quirky…will be missed forever …thoughts with family and friends… ” – former Australian cricketer and fellow commentator Kerry O’Keeffe
“Andrew was a much-loved and admired cricketer in Australia and around the world. He was a prodigious talent from an early age in Queensland with his clean ball-striking ability, shrewd spin bowling and brilliant fielding.” – Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley.
“Australian cricket has lost another of its very best. Andrew was a generational talent who was instrumental in Australia’s success at World Cups and as part of Queensland’s rich cricket history. He was a cult figure to many who was treasured by his fans and friends.” – Cricket Australia chair Lachlan Henderson.
“Andrew Symonds was an outstanding player – dynamic, entertaining and skilful – who made an unforgettable contribution to Queensland and Australian cricket. My deep condolences to his family at this time.” – Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.