Cricket-Australia greats, former team mates honour Symonds at public memorial

FILE PHOTO: Australia's Andrew Symonds bats during their fourth one-day cricket international against West Indies in Basseterre, St. Kitts, July 4, 2008. REUTERS/Andy Clark/

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Former Australia all-rounder Andrew Symonds was remembered as a rare cricket talent and "mischievous character" at a public memorial in the north Queensland city of Townsville on Friday.

Symonds, who played 238 internationals, including 26 tests, for Australia between 1998-2009, died at the age of 46 after rolling his car off a road near Townsville this month.

Former team mates and cricket greats paid tribute at the city's Riverway Stadium, where hundreds gathered to bid farewell to the player nicknamed 'Roy'.

"The first thing I think of is his commitment to the team, to friendship, to mateship, loyal almost to a fault, his mischievous character," former Australia captain Adam Gilchrist said at the memorial.

"(He was) loyal beyond belief and just good fun."

A swashbuckling batsman and brilliant fielder, Symonds was a larger-than-life character renowned for butting heads with team management over discipline issues.

"He wasn’t a perfect person and he never pretended to be," said former team mate Matthew Mott, recently appointed coach of England's white-ball teams.

Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting and retired pace bowling champions Glenn McGrath and Mitchell Johnson were among guests at a separate private funeral on Friday, Australian media reported.

Symonds' death came with Australian cricket still coming to terms with the passing of spin bowling icon Shane Warne and former wicketkeeper Rod Marsh, who both died in March.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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