Tributes have been paid to former Australia all-rounder Andrew Symonds at a public memorial service held in Queensland on Friday.
Symonds, who played 238 international matches between 1998 and 2009, died earlier this month, aged 46, after his car rolled off a road near Townsville.
Hundreds gathered at the Riverway Stadium in Townsville to bid farewell.
Caps from throughout Symonds’ career were displayed, along with a cricket bat, a fishing rod and a crab pot.
“He was just a pure heart, loyal beyond belief and just good fun,” said former team-mate Adam Gilchrist.
“The service was simply beautiful. It was full of sadness but such wonderful beautiful memories of a guy that just gave so much of himself to so many people unconditionally.”
Symonds, nicknamed ‘Roy’, played in 26 Tests and was part of Australia’s World Cup-winning teams of 2003 and 2007.
An explosive middle-order batter and excellent fielder, Symonds also bowled both off-spin and medium pace.
“He was a great bloke and a great team-mate,” said ex-Australia captain Ricky Ponting.
“If I’m picking a team tomorrow in a Test match, one-dayer or a T20, he is in my team every day of the week.”
Born in Birmingham but raised in Australia, Symonds was eligible to play for England and was asked to represent his country of birth when he was a teenager in 1995.
England’s new white-ball head coach Matthew Mott, who remained friends with Symonds after they met as junior cricketers in Queensland, said: “He was certainly considering it.
“But it got down to his moral compass – he was desperate to play for Australia. It was his childhood dream, it was never a monetary thing.”
Symonds played for Queensland for 17 seasons, while also playing county cricket in the UK for Gloucestershire, Kent, Lancashire and Surrey in the English County Championship, and after retiring he became a successful commentator.
“He’s one who didn’t find first-class cricket immediately easy, so to see him ascend to the commentary box and then to master his analysis of broadcasting and cricket in general gave me a wonderful sense of pride,” said commentator and former team-mate Ian Healy.