Andrew Symonds arrives on the world stage

Symonds carved a niche for himself after a career-boosting 143 not out off 125 balls in Australiaâs opening game against Pakistan in the 2003 World Cup.

Australia vs Pakistan, ICC World Cup, Johannesburg, February 11, 2003

Australia won by 82 runs


It was a staggering revelation by the brawny Andrew Symonds that he was contemplating a career in rugby before being selected for the 2003 World Cup in South Africa, as he was never too determined or confident about playing cricket at the highest level.


But by 2005, Symonds had ripped apart many bowling attacks and carved a niche for himself after a career-boosting 143 not out off 125 balls in Australia’s opening game against Pakistan in the 2003 World Cup. The innings at The Wanderers marked a turning point in Symonds’s cricketing career after he was surprised to get a call from the Australian selectors.


Symonds came into the World Cup with a mediocre batting average of 23 and wasn’t even a first choice player. But an injury to Michael Bevan, Darren Lehmann’s suspension (for racial abuse) and Shane Warne’s ban for doping charges gave Symonds a slot in the playing 11.


Australia was 86 for 4 in 15 overs as the Pakistan duo of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis took control. Symonds joined Ricky Ponting to rebuild the collapsing innings and added 60 runs for the fifth wicket. Ponting was his usual busy self in scoring a watchful 53.


When Ponting was dismissed by Shoaib Akhtar, Symmos took charge in a manner that has subsequently become his trademark. He raced to his century runs in just 92 balls with15 boundaries. With clean and powerful strokes, he showed his ability to score quickly even in crunch situations. His innings had two sixes – one over Akram’s head and the other off Younis.


Symonds was never clear about his position or role in the team till then, but by pulling Australia out from the slump and helping them to go past 300 runs in the match after being at 86 for four, he embarked on an exciting career that marked him out as one of the biggest hitters in the modern game and a most fearsome finisher as well.


In the past, I was a man without a map when I went out to bat,” Symonds said recalling the watershed innings.


Symonds’s assault changed the course of the game and helped Australia start their campaign in the 2003 World Cup on a winning note – by an emphatic 82 runs.


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