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Last Updated:  Friday, 14 February, 2003, 15:03 GMT

Symonds starts to repay faith
By Martin Gough
BBC Sport in South Africa

Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds will thank captain Ricky Ponting if his dream start to the World Cup continues.

Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds
Symonds was overlooked for much of the VB Series
Symonds, 27, has always promised much, but until he hit 143 not-out off Pakistan's attack at the Wanderers on Monday he had never really come up with the goods.

Amazingly, the Queensland batsman's previous best score from 55 one-day matches was an unbeaten 68 against India at Galle in 1999.

He was passed over for much of the last year, including almost all of the recent VB Series, but Ponting's faith helped clinch his inclusion.

"I said I would like him in the squad, but it was the selectors who made the final decision," Ponting said on the eve of the match against India at Centurion Park on Saturday.

Ever since he set a new first-class record for sixes in an innings (16) and a match (20) for Gloucestershire in 1995, Symonds has been acknowledged as one of the hardest hitters in world cricket.

It's been a while coming and I'm sorry for that
Andrew Symonds
Indeed, having been born in Birmingham, he was offered the chance to represent England A seven years ago.

Having emigrated to Australia at the age of two, he decided to try to gain the baggy green of his adopted country instead.

But it was not until he came to the wicket with Australia 86-for-four in their World Cup opener at the Wanderers that the decision began to look like the right one.

Symonds' approach is one of cultured violence.

He is certainly no slogger, but when the front foot comes down for a cover-drive it almost shakes the ground, the resulting shot threatening to do damage to the advertising hoardings on the boundary.

"It has taken a little while coming - he will be the first to admit that - but he was confident, positive and struck the ball well," Ponting said after the match.

Symonds is a man of few words, and he gave no hint of emotion even after an innings that could have saved his international career.

"Thoughout the innings I just worried about the next ball," he said.

"It's been a while coming - and I'm sorry for that - but hopefully I can move on now."

As he prepared to take on India, Ponting revealed he had spoken to Symonds after the game, telling him to remember the mindset of scoring big innings.

He still faces a challenge to keep hold of his place in the side with the return of the banned Darren Lehmann and the injured Michael Bevan.

But Ponting conceded he could never drop a player who had just made 140.

Symonds just has to make sure he maintains the form that has made him one of the early stars of the World Cup.

Links to more Australia stories


Australia deny defiant Pakistan
10 Feb 03 |  Team Pages
Ponting praises super Symonds
11 Feb 03 |  Australia


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