The story of two World Cups
Very often the way we judge a player can come down to their performance on the big stage in crucial matches and if that is the yardstick then Andrew Symonds can consider himself a true star of the game.
While Symonds’ overall record speaks superbly for itself, his performances at the 2003 and 2007 World Cups indicate how well the great Queenslander was able to activate him when his team needed him most and the world whole was looking seriously.
During Australia’s unbeaten streak at both 50-win World Cups, Symonds played a total of 18 games and averaged over 100 with the bat over a total of 13 innings.
Such was the dominance of Australia’s top order, Symonds was often not even needed with the bat or was simply used to score quick runs at the end of an inning.
But he was adaptable to the game situation, arguably just as adept at playing the patient game and seeing dangerous bowlers as he was at hitting fast runs.
If necessary, Symonds could score extremely quickly, often showcasing his late-inning skills to help his team post a big total, or even pursue a tough target.
93.29 strike rate
If we take a look at a list of his innings at both World Cups, we can see what a valuable member of Australia’s formidable squad he was.
143* v Pakistan in Johannesburg
59 v Namibia in Potchefstroom
0 v England at Gqeberha
33* against Kenya in Durban
91* against Sri Lanka in Gqeberha
Symonds’ unbeaten 143 against Pakistan in the Australian tournament opener was arguably his best run ever as it really set the tone for what lay ahead.
Australia were in deep trouble when the burly all-rounder came into the crease at 86/4, but Symonds played a superb individual shot against a world-class attack that included Wasim Akram, Shoaib Akhtar and Waqar Younis to put the game to the -beyond a star-studded Pakistani side.
Symonds also pulled off a superb outfield catch to help get Mohammad Yousuf’s key wicket in response and duly received the Player of the Match award for his efforts.
Equally important was his knock in the hard-fought semi-final against Sri Lanka, with Symonds once again getting back into the crease with Australia struggling at 51/3 following the dismissal of good friend Matthew Hayden.
Seamer Chaminda Vaas had his tail with key wickets from Ricky Ponting and Hayden and Sri Lanka wanted more, but Symonds struck smart to help Australia to a competitive 212/7.
Symonds then held a tricky hold to help fire the dangerous Sanath Jayasuriya in response as Australia cruised to the final thanks to the Duckworth-Lewis win.
18 v South Africa in Basseterre
13 v West Indies in North Sound
28* v England at North Sound
15* v Ireland in Bridgetown
63* v Sri Lanka at St George’s
11 v New Zealand at St George’s
18* v South Africa at Gros Islet
23* v Sri Lanka in Bridgetown
While Symonds’ 2007 tournament may not have had the big individual highlights that featured four years earlier, his efforts in the Caribbean proved the versatile player was now playing with more consistency.
A more mature Symonds kept his cool with a valuable 28* to ensure Australia managed to chase England’s aggregate in a crucial Super Eights contest at North Sound, before the right-hander did team up with Ponting to score half a century unbeaten and defeat Sri Lanka in the same phase of the tournament.
Symonds again played similar roles in the crucial knockout stages of the tournament against South Africa and Sri Lanka, with the all-rounder even making a contribution with the ball to win the final wicket as the celebrations got under way for Australia.
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