Former India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh has said he was left “shattered” about learning the news of his former Mumbai Indians teammate Andrew Symonds’ death. The trailblazing Australian all-rounder passed away on Sunday morning due to a car accident outside Townsville, Queensland, where he lived in retirement.
His death is the third one of an Australian cricketer this year, following the sad demise of legendary leg-spinner Shane Warne and iconic wicket-keeper Rodney Marsh in March.
Symonds had an illustrious career: he is a two-time World Cup winner playing a crucial role during both of Australia’s undefeated title runs in 2003 and 2007 and was a key member of the Test side in the mid-2000s.
Other than that, though, the all-rounder was also involved in a number of controversies. One with Harbhajan Singh from the 2008 Sydney Test is still fresh in the memories of fans, known as the ‘Monkeygate Scandal’.
Both the cricketers moved on past that and got on good terms. Symonds and Harbhajan even shared the dressing room during the 2011 IPL at Mumbai Indians.
Recalling his time in that season, Harbhajan revealed that he and Symonds became good mates and developed a friendly bond. Bhajji stated that the Australian was available to chat with him even at 2 in the night.
“Obviously we’ve had a lot of history. Thanks to IPL and Mumbai Indians for putting both of us together in one dressing room. And once I got to know such a lovely human being and we became very good friends,” Harbhajan said while speaking with Star Sports.
“We used to sit together, have a drink, laugh, share a lot of stories. He was someone who I could call at 2:30 in the morning and say ‘hey mate, what are you doing, what are you up to, let’s meet’ and he would be up for it,” he recalled.
Harbhajan, who retired last year from all forms of cricket, gave his first reactions upon learning the news of Symonds’ passing away on Sunday morning.
“I woke up this morning and saw my phone and I was shattered with this news that Andrew is no more. I still can’t believe Andrew is no more because he’s such a strong guy and whatever has happened is a very sad thing. My condolence to his family and friends and it’s a loss for all of us,” said the four-time IPL winner.
A hard-hitting finisher, a medium pace and off-spin bowler, and one of the best fielders ever, Symonds was a crucial cog in any team he played for.
Born in Birmingham, Andrew Symonds declined England’s offer to play for them and decided to play for Australia; he featured in 26 Tests, 198 ODIs and 14 T20Is in an international career spanning from 1998 to 2009. He scored 1462 Test runs at 40 and 5088 ODI runs at 39. Symonds took upon T20 cricket like fish to water, averaging 32 at a strike rate of 147 across 93 short-format matches.