SYDNEY: Explosive former Australia all-rounder Andrew Symonds has died in a car crash, local reports and fellow players said Sunday, in another tragic blow for the sport after the recent deaths of Shane Warne and Rod Marsh.
The 46-year-old, who played 26 Tests and 198 one-day internationals, was involved in a single-car accident outside Townsville in Queensland state on Saturday night.
Police said emergency services attempted to revive the driver and sole occupant, but he died from his injuries after the car left the road and rolled.
Authorities did not name Symonds, but he was widely identified by multiple media outlets and former players.
“Horrendous news to wake up to,” tweeted former Australian teammate Jason Gillespie. “Utterly devastated. We´re all gonna miss you mate.”
Adam Gilchrist, another former teammate and fellow commentator, wrote: “This really hurts,” while Pakistani fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar said he was “devastated”.
“We shared a great relationship on & off the field. Thoughts & prayers with the family,” he tweeted.
Symonds´ fatal crash comes just months after the deaths of fellow Australian greats Shane Warne and Rod Marsh, who both died from heart attacks.
The larger-than-life Symonds was hugely popular, not only for his hard-hitting approach to the game but also for his easy-going personality.
He was widely considered one of the most skilled all-rounders Australian cricket has seen and was a key member of the team that won back-to-back 50-over World Cups in 2003 and 2007.
But he was also remembered for the infamous “monkeygate” scandal in 2008 that sent him into a downward spiral.
Symonds accused India spinner Harbhajan Singh of calling him a “monkey” in the 2008 New Year Test in Sydney.
Singh, who denied any wrongdoing, was suspended for three matches, but the ban was overturned when India threatened to quit the tour in what was a low point in India-Australia cricket relations.
The Australian player later revealed it took a heavy toll and he began drinking heavily.
His Cricket Australia contract was withdrawn in June 2009 after he was sent home from the World Twenty20 in England following the latest in a series of alcohol-related indiscretions.
Despite the animosity, Symonds and Harbhajan eventually made up and played together in the Indian Premier League.