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Symonds says his career was in jeopardy before World Cup

Andrew Symonds says he was bowled over by his World Cup selection after thinking his international career was over.

india Updated: Mar 21, 2003 16:00 IST

Australian all-rounder 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 World 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 semifinal 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 legspinner 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.

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 as opposed to going haywire.

Before finding his new maturity, Symonds said, "I would have tried to hit someone out of the attack or do something like that."

"(Now) I accumulate and hit the bad balls," he said. "I've been more controlled. I haven't been swinging out there or trying to thrash and bash my way out of trouble."

Symonds' recall for the World Cup was a shock selection and he didn't do himself any favors when he scored 12 runs in the five tri-series matches that followed, and claimed a solitary wicket at 82 runs.

The 62-match veteran has now scored 1,088 runs, boasting a strike rate of 94 runs per 100 balls.

Ricky Ponting "has been very supportive of me and showed a lot of faith in me. It's nice to repay him," he said.

Not living up to potential in the past "has been frustrating, but probably more frustrating for people watching me I think".

First Published: Mar 21, 2003 16:00 IST