Harsha Bhogle talks to cricketers and administrators

'I wanted to do it for mum and dad, not for the team, not for me'

Part two: Andrew Symonds talks about the sacrifices his parents made for him, and why he turned down a chance to play for England A (00:00)

October 4, 2010


Andrew Symonds

'I wanted to do it for mum and dad, not for the team, not for me'

October 4, 2010

A 20-year-old Andrew Symonds poses in Gloucestershire uniform,  Gloucester, April 1, 1996
Andrew Symonds played for Gloucestershire as a teen but turned down a place in the England A squad in the hope of one day playing for Australia © Getty Images

Harsha Bhogle: It was very interesting to hear you talk very fondly about your parents the other day, about what your father did for you, your mother... I didn't realise that there was this little other side to you - that you could be a little sentimental. Very different from the image that we've seen on the ground.

Andrew Symonds: As I have got older I have realised …

HB: You are not old, Andrew. [laughs]

AS: Older [laughs]… older. I have realised how lucky I am to have the parents who gave me the opportunity - they made huge sacrifices in their own careers to get me and my brother and sister into environments where we can pursue our dreams. And that's probably not very common either. People are very career-oriented these days, and my parents weren't. Well, they were, but at the same time they were happy to make sacrifices for their kids. The only reason I played for Australia is because they did that. I realise that and I am very grateful for that opportunity.

HB: How big was it for you to play for Australia, and how big was it for them?

AS: It's hard… I'll try and illustrate it by saying this: When I was in the dressing room when we won a Test match, I went over to Ricky and said, "Mate, do you mind if I get dad into the dressing room and have a beer with him?" and he said, "Yes, mate, you're welcome." Dad came in, and I have never seen anyone drink two beers faster. He was that excited on the adrenaline of me playing my first Test and winning it, him being in the dressing room with all the boys… he just inhaled his first two beers. I could see his face, he was that excited. For me that was the moment of [realising that] everything was worth it. That's something that has got fossilised in my mind and sort of kept me going in the times that were difficult. I did want to do it for mum and dad sometimes, not for the team, not for me, not for self gain, it was for mum and dad and for the sacrifices they had made.

HB: At one point you had the option of playing for England. You were 18-19 and you had this great future in front of you. How important was it for you, as a child, to play for Australia?

AS: As a kid growing up, that's what I wanted to do. I used to play in the backyard, and that really was my dream. And it is a dream because not many men have done it. Having been born in England - I went to Australia when I was 18 months old - I held an English passport, and I was able to play county cricket over there as a local player. I had a good season and they picked me on an England A tour, and I did not want to go. That wasn't the idea of me going over there. The trip had been organised for me to go there and experience playing there…

HB: But you know, for a 19-year-old it was a huge decision to take, to say, "No, I don't want to go." Because you had what a lot of guys would have dreamt of having, a sort of toe into the England side.

AS: Yes, but that wasn't in me, my heart wasn't in it. I wasn't passionate about it. And it didn't…

HB: There are not many 19-year-olds who would turn that down, who would know exactly what they want in life.

AS: Well, I knew what I wanted. At that time, I said, "I might not even play for Australia but I want to try, because that's what I want."

HB: Andrew, one of the things that I have heard a lot of Aussies say is that you must become as good as you can be. As you look back, do you think you were as good as you could have been?

AS: No, no, I don't. It took me quite a long time to work out how to construct an innings. When I did, I sort of looked back and thought, "I wasn't bad, but I could have been much better." If I look right back, I would have probably changed a couple of things technically, but by the same token I reckon I tried fairly hard. Sometimes, when you look back and you are just not as good as other players - I'm comfortable with that. But I think I could have been better, a bit better… yes, definitely.

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