| Australian paceman Brett Lee (right) shares a smile with former captain Mark Taylor during a training session at the Wanderers Friday. (Reuters)
Johannesburg : Australian allrounder Andrew Symonds says he was bowled over by his World Cup selection after thinking his international career was over. It made him determined to make the most of his opportunities and silence his critics.
The 27-year-old Symonds saved two of his best innings to resurrect Australia’s innings in vital Cup matches and his own international career.
He hit his maiden one-day hundred — 143 off 139 balls — against Pakistan at the Wanderers in Australia’s opening match, followed by an unbeaten 91 in the semi-final against Sri Lanka in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday.
“I didn’t expect to be here,” said Symonds. “I thought I would have to play two good years of cricket to be a chance and then I would be 28 or 29. It was a surprise but I suppose I have been given a chance and things have gone quite well.”
But he put his success down to an unknown force on the eve of the Pakistan match that kick-started his career.
Australia suffered the biggest setback on the eve of its opening World Cup game when leg-spinner Shane Warne revealed he’d tested positive for a banned diuretic and had to withdraw from the tournament.
“I didn’t know how I felt about Warnie and the night he explained to us what had happened. I don’t know whether that made me more determined.
“I know (I) was very hot. I was quite wild in my room that night. I didn’t know whether I was angry with him or angry at them for going so hard at him because he was Warnie. I didn’t know what it was.”
Symonds said maybe he took some of his rage at the Warne incident to the crease. And he had hardly any recollection of his first hundred, saying it was all a blur.
“It was as nervous as I have ever seen an Australian dressing room,” Symonds said. “I have played a lot of cricket with them but I haven’t seen us like that before.
“There was a real tense feeling in the dressing room. We were still enjoying ourselves. It was the first game of the World Cup. Everyone had nervous energy.”
Symonds said his two years in the selection wilderness had made him a better cricketer, with the ability to assess a situation calmly. haywire.
Before finding his new maturity, Symonds said, “I would have tried to hit someone out of the attack. But now I accumulate and hit the ball hard.” (ap)