Symonds writes his own script

Andrew Symonds

Andrew Symonds is an integral part of the successful Australia one-day side © Getty Images

Andrew Symonds is a player for whom the term all-rounder could have been coined.

A destructive batsman, a bowler of both medium pace and off-spin and a superbly athletic fielder, there are few limits to his capabilities on the cricket field.

There can be no better reflection of his standing in the one-day game than his importance to an Australia side widely recognised as the best in the world.

Not only does Symonds provide valuable middle-order runs in his inimitably aggressive fashion, but the variety he offers with the ball, allied to a resoundingly safe pair of hands and fleetness of foot in the field, have seen him mentioned, not unreasonably, in the same breath as the likes of Andrew Flintoff and Jacques Kallis in discussions regarding the leading all-rounder in world cricket.

Admittedly, such debates must be confined to the limited-overs forum, for Symonds has yet to translate his exceptional one-day form onto the Test stage, but that should not detract from his considerable talent.

A hulk of a man possessing prodigious upper body strength - he considered a career in rugby league before his international cricket career took off - Symonds' brutal hitting is the stuff of legend.

Nicknamed ‘Roy’ in reference to comic book character ‘Roy of the Rovers’, his exploits carry a distinct whiff of the superhero.

Andrew Symonds

Symonds possesses immense power with a bat in his hand

Aged just 20, Symonds smashed a record 16 sixes in an innings - and 20 in the match - for Gloucestershire against Glamorgan, making what remains his highest first-class score of 254 not out while the best any of his team-mates could manage was 52.

His unbeaten 143 off only 125 balls during Australia's opening game of the 2003 World Cup against Pakistan ranks among the best in the history of one-day internationals, while 91 not out in the semi-final win over Sri Lanka merely underlined his worth to the eventual champions.

Symonds' savage assault on the Middlesex bowlers in a Twenty20 Cup clash in 2004 - he bludgeoned 112 off a mere 43 deliveries - was another graphic illustration of the ferocity of his strokeplay, and he demonstrated a remarkably unflappable temperament amid the pressure of a Test match last December.

Coming in at the MCG on the back of a first-innings duck and with his place in the team in jeopardy, Symonds' first scoring shot was a six. He launched five more, a new ground record, en route to an audacious 72 off 54 balls.

It will come as no surprise to those who have seen Symonds bat to discover his one-day international strike-rate is in excess of 90, but an average bordering on 40 may cause more than the odd raising of the eyebrow outside Queensland, his home state.

He is much more than just a fearsome striker of the ball, though, as a century of ODI wickets and an economy rate under five testify.

Andrew Symonds

Symonds remains an individual both on and off the cricket field

He bowls gun-barrel straight at a shade above medium-pace and also offers flat, quickish off-spin if the conditions suit. A fine fielder in the covers, opposition batsmen have long since realised that they pinch a single to Symonds at their peril.

Symonds, now 31, goes about his cricket in much the same, uncomplicated way he approaches life.

Born in Birmingham but raised in Australia, he favours the outdoor life and lists hunting and fishing among his hobbies - 'Bacon Busters', an Australian magazine dedicated to pig hunting, is his reading matter of choice.

But for a player whose game contains refreshingly few fripperies - "I play best when I don't have any plan," he says - his career has been anything but straightforward.

After making his one-day international debut in 1998, he had to wait almost six years to be given a chance at Test level.

Voted Australia's one-day player of the year in 2004-05, Symonds was banned for two matches on the tour of England last summer after arriving for a game against Bangladesh still showing the effects of a night out. He went on to win the player-of-the-series award.

His attitude is perhaps best summed up by an episode from his younger days, when he reportedly turned up for contract talks with Malcolm Speed, then chief executive of Cricket Australia, barefoot and wearing a cowboy hat.

When he was a child, Symonds wanted to become a cowboy. Fortunately for Australian cricket, he chose a different path.

Get our free apps

Apps Promo

Download the ECB Cricket app for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry or Nokia phones and get live scores, news, video and other services on the move