Andrew Symonds was one of those cricketers who was just that little special.
And unlike most, whom we remember for their work with the bat or the ball, some of the most memorable moments of the Symonds came on the field.
He hunted on the field and pushed.
At the turn of the century, South Africa’s Jonty Rhodes was considered the best ring fielder in the game.
But Rhodes said Symonds not only piped him, but was “10 times better.”
Rhodes said in 2006, “Where he’s better than me is that he’s a real all-round fielder.”
“For a big man, he can get very close to the wicket, get off the ground, dive, cut the ball if he’s in the ring.
“She is OK. But the extra dimension is his strength. From the middle of the innings, he can be out of the ring to save the two because he has such a strong hand.
“Put him anywhere on the field and he’s talented. He is completely on the field. I can’t imagine anyone better than this in the past. ”
Richie Benaud said this after Symonds was run out by West Indies’ Laurie Williams in 2001: “Twisting and twisting and diving, and then swimming without getting up on his feet, and he still hit the stumps and ran out the batsman. ”
But what defined Andrew Symonds in those five innings?
1: 2003 World Cup semifinals: Australia vs. Sri Lanka – 91 unbeaten in 7-212
When we think of Andrew Symonds, an innings is different.
His match-winning century against Pakistan was a landmark innings after a stop-start at the start of his five-year career.
But an innings was just as important, perhaps even more so because of the significance of the occasion.
Seor Symonds’ century against Pakistan started their campaign.
But his 91* against Sri Lanka in the semi-final kept Australia in the series.
His second match-winning knockout of the series kept Australia afloat after falling 7-175.
In reply, Australia won by 48 runs at Duckworth Lewis Method.
Yet Adam Gilchrist’s decision to walk during the same match casts a shadow over his heroism.
After landing on a flying start, Gilchrist bounced the ball over his pads and into the air as he tried to sweep, despite Rudy Kortzen not being knocked out.
Gilchrist shocked the world in the days before DRS.
He was back in the shed by the furious Ricky Ponting as Australia’s terrible order was broken.
Symonds, however, patiently took wickets around him, including Michael Bevan for the ducks, before releasing them before he died.
2: 2003 World Cup Opening Pool Match: Australia vs. Pakistan – 8-310 in 143*
Behind Shane Warne’s shock suspension, Australia looked unprotected.
Darren Lehmann was still suspended while Bevan was recovering from injury.
Australia, meanwhile, were 4-86 when Symonds went to the crease to join Ponting – the man who argued his case for boarding a plane to South Africa.
Symonds begins to falter, flirting outside the off-stump when Walker Eunice plays with him.
But then his innings started to click, as he particularly liked all-rounder Abdul Rasak and dangerous leggy Shahid Afridi, especially through the cover area.
The smell of Pakistan’s blood as Ponting leaves.
But as Symonds grew, he took Australia from 5-146 to 8-310.
His stunning diving catch forward then sealed the deal to remove middle-order gunman Mohammad Yusuf, as Pakistan were all out for 228 runs.
3: 2006 Boxing Day Test: Australia vs. England – 156 off 220 balls
Just like his debut in ODI cricket, Symonds took the time to feel at home with baggy greens on his head.
But as he did in the ODIs, Symonds ran off when the monkey got off his back.
After Ponting, Hussey and Clarke each failed to double figures in the MCG, the smell of England’s blood and the ropes in Australia 5-86, Symonds joins his great partner Matthew Hayden at the crease.
What happened was a matter of beauty, as Symonds looked at the house while others looked out of place.
He killed England in Melbourne that day.
Disappointed with being in the nervous nineties, he leaned over a full-pitch ball made by Paul Collingwood and hit his sixes to lift his century in the most stunning style.
Symonds jumped into the air when Hayden the bear hugged him, hands up.
It was another moment in the summer, just one day after Warne’s 700th wicket.
4: 2005 Australia vs. New Zealand: 127 balls 156
Not for the first time in his career, Symonds landed on the crease with Australia in a place of annoyance.
He returned to the crease after missing two Tests against the West Indies back home.
He then expressed his frustration against the Black Caps in Wellington, with short-arm cut shots, the brutality of a flat bat on the leg side, and a mischievous hand under the ground.
In one innings of unbeaten power, Symonds lifted his half-century in 70 deliveries and gradually increased his strike-rate as he worked on the leg-side to bring in three figures.
He then went berserk, with Michael Clarke on the other end when they almost broke the record for the fifth wicket for the fifth wicket in ODI history.
Symonds hit eight sixes and 12 boundaries during his highest ODI score.
5: 2005 Boxing Day Test, Australia vs. South Africa: 47 off 55 balls
Sometimes in sports it’s more about the moment than the total score.
For Symonds, his half-century against South Africa was another important moment in his Test career.
Supported for his superb talent and match-winning ability, Symonds was given another chance against the Proteas after his century across Tasman.
He moved to MCG with 41 runs at 5.85.
Then in the next session, he took the game away from South Africa as he hit 55 off 47 balls in an innings that included four sixes and three boundaries.
Australia were bowled out for 308 in reply to South Africa’s 205 in the first innings, but the Test match was broken for Symonds.