Heartbreaking scenes as Andrew Symonds farewelled at funeral

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Andrew Symonds' friends, family and former teammates, pictured here in Townsville to farewell him.
Andrew Symonds' friends, family and former teammates have gathered to farewell him. Image: Twitter/Getty

Andrew Symonds' family and friends have gathered at a private funeral and public memorial service for the Aussie cricket legend in Townsville after his tragic death at age 46.

Symonds was killed earlier this month when his car left the road and rolled in Hervey Range near where he lived - about 50km from Townsville in northern Queensland.

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The former Test and ODI star was farewelled at a funeral and memorial service on Friday, with some of the biggest names in world cricket in attendance.

The likes of former Australian captain Ricky Ponting and teammates Adam Gilchrist and Darren Lehmann entertained those in attendance, reciting old tales of their time as players and how 'Roy' impacted their lives on and off the field.

Poet Rupert McCall remembered the times he'd receive telephone calls from Symonds late at night, hoping to hear a couple of his favourite poems as he sat by the fire with his mates.

McCall delivered again on Friday with his final ode to the life of Symonds, speaking of the "white-lipped assassin" and "six-monster snapper" that silenced the critics when resurrecting his Test career with a famous knock against South Africa on Boxing day.

Andrew Symonds' casket, pictured here at the front of the congregation during the private memorial service.
Andrew Symonds' casket at the front of the congregation during the private memorial service. (AAP Image/Scott Radford-Chisholm)

"Bowlers once dominant cowered in fear, he came and he saw and he saved his Test career," McCall recited.

"For now let's acknowledge the dream of a boy and the day he fulfilled it. You ripper, Roy."

Symonds’ two children and their mother Laura were seen being consoled by guests while entering the venue, while son Billy was holding his father’s beloved Akubra hat.

Andrew Symonds' wife Laura and children Chloe and Billy, pictured here at his funeral.
Andrew Symonds' wife Laura and children Chloe and Billy. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

“This is a way we can say thank you and goodbye,” Townsville Major Jenny Hill said about the service.

“An event like this provides many people closure around Andrew‘s life and what happened.

“It‘s an absolute tragedy that it happened, and we’ve lost a true ambassador for the North and a true larrikin.”

Ian Healy and Adam Gilchrist, pictured here speaking about Andrew Symonds at his public memorial.
Ian Healy and Adam Gilchrist speak about Andrew Symonds at his public memorial. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Cricket Australia director Greg Rowell began the proceedings after an opening video tribute, hailing Symonds' commitment to the team, others and everyone before himself.

"He was a man for others, and it showed in the mastery and the breadth of the skills that had little return or dividend to him in his pursuit of his personal dreams," Rowell said.

"He owned his mistakes, he put others before himself to see what has to be done, and to do it.

"To assess what had to be said, and to say it."

Ponting, Lehmann and Gilchrist all hailed Symonds' efforts for both his state and national teammates, and his calm demeanour that settled them even in the most tense settings.

"I had to lay down upstairs (before the service) ... and then I just had these words ringing in my head from 'Roy up there'," Ponting said.

"Get up, get up, get down there, you got a sore belly have ya," he said to a chorus of laughter.

Lehman called him the best player he ever coached, while Gilchrist said what struck him the most was how often old friends had spoken of Symonds' off-field life while barely mentioning his incredible cricketing achievements.

"We've spoken so much about him as a person we forget to talk about the level of cricketer that he was," Gilchrist said.

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Symonds' wife Laura previously spoke of her devastation, not only for herself but the couple's young children Chloe and Billy.

“We are still in shock,” she told the Courier Mail.

“I’m just thinking of the two kids. He was such a big person and there is just so much of him in his kids.”

Laura said her husband was “the most laid-back person”.

“Nothing stressed him out. He was an extremely chilled operator. So practical,” she said.

“He was never good with his phone but he always had time for everyone."

Andrew Symonds, pictured here at the state memorial service for Shane Warne at the MCG.
Andrew Symonds at the state memorial service for Shane Warne at the MCG. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Symonds played 198 one-day internationals for Australia, as well as 26 Tests and 14 Twenty20 internationals.

The all-rounder amassed 5088 runs at ODI level at an average of 39.75, also taking 133 wickets.

The Queenslander was a key member of the Aussie teams that won back-to-back World Cups in 2003 and 2007.

He finished his twin World Cup campaigns with two winners' medals, an average of 103, a strike rate of 93.29 and the adulation of fans around the world.

At Test level he scored 1462 runs at 40.61, taking 24 wickets.

with AAP

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