Heartbroken mates share Symonds’ best trait

Andrew Symonds has been remembered as a friend who was “loyal beyond belief” by his loved ones in a moving memorial service in Townsville, Queensland.

Following Symonds’ tragic death in a car crash earlier this month, sporting legends from around the country congregated in north Queensland to farewell the cricket legend.

Former international teammates Adam Gilchrist, Darren Lehmann and Ricky Ponting shared their stories of the man affectionately known as ‘Roy’, with the prevailing theme being Symonds’ incredible traits of loyalty and honesty.

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“His friendship, his mateship, he was loyal almost to a fault,” Gilchrist said.

“He was mischievous character, but his sense of loyalty, of wanting to think of everyone else more than himself, do whatever he could contribute on and off the field to help others.

“Something that’s really jumped out in the last week and a half, we [former teammates] have all spoken so much about Roy, shared so many stories, and there’s been barely a mention of his cricketing exploits.

“He was one of the game’s great cricketers, all-round talents. Ricky Ponting says he would pick him in any team in any format of all time.

“So that’s a testament to the quality of cricketer he was, but we’re talking about Roy as a bloke, and he was just a pure heart who found his way into trouble as well as anyone, then he was remorseful. He dusted himself off, and was so apologetic, and then he just had another go at trying to get it right.

“He was loyal beyond belief, just good fun.”

One of Symonds’ closest teammates, Matthew Hayden, wrote an emotional song for his dearly departed mate in a heart-wrenching tribute from India where he is currently covering the IPL.

Lehmann and Ponting also waxed lyrical about Symonds’ incredible raw talent on the field, with Lehmann having had the unique opportunity of both playing with and coaching the all-rounder.

“He was tough to coach…but he was the first picked in any side,” Lehmann said.

“As a coach, I think he was the best player I ever coached. He was the best one because he just put the team first with everything he did.

“To coach him was just a pleasure, an absolute pleasure the way he went about it. He could play all formats, and that was the thing for me. He was just a fantastic cricketer. He was one of the box and a champion. “

“The cricket side is one thing I think we need to talk about a lot with him,” Ponting added.

“Yes, (he was a) great bloke, great teammate… if I’m picking a team tomorrow in a Test match, one-dayer or a T20, he’s in my team every day of the week.

“You just knew that if you gave him some pretty simple direction, he’d get that done for you. He wanted the best for the team. He would do anything if it meant saving one run or giving his mates a better chance of winning the game.”

Cricket Australia director Greg Rowell, who was a teammate of Symonds’ for Queensland, also touched on his life, calling him “an example of all that is best about our game”.

“He was one of us. He made us proud to be Australians,” he said.

“His struggles resonated with us, his triumphs inspired us. Always entertaining, charismatic. At once incomplete and flawed, while at the same time unique and flawless.”

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