Andrew Symonds: “Not every day is about work”

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Andrew Symonds was killed in a car crash over the weekend. We feel an urge to state that this is dreadful news, which is just a fantastically redundant thing to say.

We remember a few years ago reading a cricketer’s obituary and thinking to ourself that one day we’d feel obliged to write one for a player who we’d covered on our website. It seemed such a far-off thing. And yet here we are, just a few weeks after doing that thing about Shane Warne, typing away again.

Symonds’ death doesn’t feel quite the same as Warne’s. There is a more obvious prematurity about the circumstances that makes it feel more like Ben Hollioake’s death or Phil Hughes’.

The reason why our words about him are tucked away in the middle of a longer piece is because we don’t have much to add to what has been written elsewhere. Sure, we wrote about Symonds plenty, but we were usually having a dig after his latest colourful misdemeanour or lauding him for his stance on scented candles. (Remember that time he went on the radio and called Brendon McCullum “a piece of shit”? Here’s a few words about England’s new Test coach.)

Symonds was always a far bigger figure for Australians. We always felt this was only half for his cricket and half as a peg from which to hang distaste for cricket’s growing corporate side.

If you’ve read the various memories and anecdotes this week, you’ll see a lot of them have that in common. Turning up for a Cricket Australia meeting barefoot in a cowboy hat; skiving a mandatory practice session to go fishing; asking his employer if he could sit out all the interviews and photo shoots and just play cricket.

“With all the things that went with international cricket there was never enough time for myself,” he once told the Guardian.

“To me life is about fun. You have got to make a living, but not every day is about work. My life became difficult to lead. With the amount of things I had on my plate – cricket, sponsors, media – I just ended up having no time for myself. And that’s what wore me down.”

It always seemed to us that a lot of people identified with that sense that the sheer straightforward fun of cricket was being overcomplicated and eroded by commercialism.

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  1. When reporting on these things, there is always the danger of slipping into ‘cliche’ mode. I don’t think you’re in danger of doing that.

    One can only inform everyone of the person they were, and take solace in the good they stood for, as well as applying that good to one’s own existence.

    “To me life is about fun. You have got to make a living, but not every day is about work.”

    There is indeed much more to life than just work. It sounds like Andrew Symonds wanted to stop off and smell the flowers occasionally. Good on him for that and it’s a shame he wasn’t allowed to have a little more time to do so.

  2. England has had a succession of beery all-rounders with a rough-diamond quality about them, who specialised in meaty cricket. Andrew Symonds was about the only non-Englishman who came close to this Platonic ideal (Beefy in a cave). And indeed he was born in England, which probably explains it.

    From an era of intensely dislikeable Australian cricketers, Symonds and Warne were immensely likeable exceptions. They knew of the concept of a fuck, but they absolutely didn’t give one. Everyone around them was ruminating on Sun Tzu, or finding their inner something-or-other, or squatting on the pitch to make a psychic connection with it, and generally taking cricket massively too seriously. They just turned up and won stuff, through sheer force of un-arsedness.

    This was another shock. The cream of Australian cricket’s genuine personalities is diminishing before our eyes. Two names scratched off the “I wouldn’t mind a pint or few with…” list. There’s still a few left on it, but not many.

  3. I recommend the Twitter video of 1 minute of Andrew Symonds direct hit run-outs. Hitting the stumps at the far end from a seated position is just illegal or something.

  4. “…overcomplicated and eroded by commercialism.”

    It’s not just cricket that seems to be going deeper and deeper into that tunnel – certainly modern tennis (the only other sport Daisy and I follow in any depth) has gone that way. There seems to be little or no role for big personalities and alternative approaches to being a sportsperson any more.

    “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.”

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