Had Andrew Symonds accepted the place he was offered in the England A squad back in 1995, he may by now have played far more of both Test cricket and one-day internationals. He may have even figured in the 1999 World Cup. But it would all have been for England, a country he was born in but left when he was barely two. Symonds with his typically Aussie traits, marked by tenacity and aggression, would probably have been a misfit among the Poms.
Symonds declined the offer, preferring to gamble and gain a place in the Australian national squad by turning out for Queensland in domestic cricket. He did make the Australian team in 1998-99, but missed out on the World Cup squad in 1999.
As things stand, Symonds, though acknowledged as one of the hardest hitters in the game, has played just over 50 odis for his adopted country but is yet to play Test cricket. Before this World Cup, he had not even come close to a three-figure knock—a highest of 68 not out, one of his only two knocks of over 50—would hardly qualify as being close to a century. Yet, there is not a single Australian, least of them his captain, Ricky Ponting, who would hesitate in acknowledging his incredible talent as a hard-hitting batsman, a more-than-useful right arm off-break bowler and a brilliant fielder, one of the very best in the world. But all such accolades in cricket lexicon count for nothing, if the scores are not forthcoming. And, so it was with Symonds, till last week.
Shrugging off the shocking news of teammate and Aussie icon Shane Warne having tested positive for a banned substance, Symonds rescued Australia from a tense 86 for four to a superb 310 for eight.
When the dust settled down, he was still unbeaten with 143, his career-best and a knock which in its wake left Waqar Younis shell-shocked to the extent that he bowled two beamers, resulting in umpire David...