Harsha Bhogle talks to cricketers and administrators

'It was probably the best tour that I ever went on'

Part one: Andrew Symonds talks about playing and winning the 2003 World Cup (00:00)

October 4, 2010


Andrew Symonds

'It was probably the best tour that I ever went on'

October 4, 2010

World Cup, 2003 - Australia v Pakistan at Johannesburg, 11 Feb 2003
"I felt a million dollars afterwards. It was either get it done then or probably look for another job" © Reuters

Harsha Bhogle: Welcome to Opening Up, and I have got a fascinating personality to talk to today. I have been interested for a long time in finding the person behind this hard, tough Aussie who takes the field. And believe me, I was delighted when Andrew Symonds said, "Yes, we'll do it." In exactly those many words, because he is not a man who is prone to long sentences.

Thanks a lot, Andrew, for doing this.

You are back in South Africa, where seven years ago you played the defining innings of your life. An innings that, in our minds at least, allowed the transitions to be made from "Yes, Symonds can play" to "Wow, what a player!"

Andrew Symonds: Yes, I suppose each time I come back here I have a quiet moment and I think back to that World Cup-winning team. It was probably the best tour that I ever went on, in regards to the way team trained and the way the team bonded - it was a true bond. I hear a lot of people talk about how tight their teams were, and this was a tight team. We trained hard, we celebrated harder after every game, and we were very competitive because we were so tight.

HB: Wasn't there a little bit of a dispute before, about whether or not you should be in the side? Then Ricky [Ponting] went out on a limb and said, "I want him in the side." So was there a greater sense of belonging because of that?

AS: Well, he has always stood strongly by me, and for that I am always grateful. But I should never have been picked for that tour. I had not scored enough runs or taken anywhere near enough wickets or anything like that. It was just a gut instinct that Ricky and the coach had had.

HB: And you remember that innings like it was yesterday, because that really set the tone for the campaign. You were without Shane Warne, you were without Michael Bevan, without Darren Lehmann, and it could really have all gone wrong for Australia without that innings.

AS: We had a lot of setbacks just leading up to the World Cup, and then Warnie got sent home the night before the first game. That sort of sent a big shock wave through us. I don't know whether it sort of made us tighter or whether it frightened us a bit. That dressing room before the first game in that World Cup was the most nervous Australian dressing room that I have ever seen.

HB: It's good to know that the Aussies get nervous.

AS: Yes, it was a really tense atmosphere there. No one was really talking much. Usually there are a few jokes… you know, McGrath would be doing something stupid to someone in the corner or something, but there was none of that going on and I noticed it.

HB: There was fear in the Aussie camp?

"It was a true bond. I hear a lot of people talk about how tight their teams were, and this was a tight team. We trained hard, we celebrated harder after every game, and we were very competitive because we were so tight" On Australia's World-Cup winning side of 2003

AS: As I said to you, I can't put my finger on why it was like that, because it wasn't like that for any other game. I don't know if it was the Warne thing. Bevo was out injured and…

HB: Lehmann was on suspension.

AS: Lehmann had been suspended for six games. So I suppose we were probably understaffed in the middle order, and we lost the best player in the world, with this drug thing.

HB: Was there a feeling that he let you down at all?

AS: I was very angry, but it wasn't like he had taken something that he was cheating with. It was more of a cosmetic type of drug, if that's the right term. You know what I mean, it wasn't as if that drug is going to make him play any better.

HB: Or bowl his leggies any better?

AS: Yes, and so I was just angry at the fact that it had happened. I wasn't taking it personally with him, because he did not try to cheat. I think it was just a mistake that he made.

HB: At what point in that innings did you think, "Wow, I am on a roll here"? Because, it was one of the innings where a batsman finds himself in the zone. Everything you did was right.

AS: Early on in my innings I played and missed a bit. I only know this because I actually watched the innings right from the first ball. So I sort of sat through one afternoon at home and relived it a little bit, which was a very satisfying experience. I never watch myself play much at all. I might see a couple of snippets in the team meeting, but that's about it. It was quite a nice feeling and I felt a million dollars afterwards. I felt it was the defining innings of my career. It was either get it done then or probably look for another job.

HB: The Andrew Symonds we see is always this tough, uncompromising, hard person. It's nice to see that there is a touch of emotion underneath all.

AS: As I have got older, I have sat back and reflected on things a bit more. That probably comes from my father, who is highly intelligent; he thinks things through before he acts. I suppose it might have rubbed a bit off on me at some point, and now it has actually probably sunk in and I do reflect on things and I do probably think about things much more than I used to. I used to just dive in, feet first and ask questions later.

Posted by Palagirig on (October 7, 2010, 1:31 GMT)

Well done Harsha for bringing the best of Andrew Symonds. We love Andrew Symonds and its a big mistake that Australia had to let go their match winner.

Posted by   on (October 5, 2010, 21:02 GMT)

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