My Top 5 Aussie Male sporting heroes growing up:
5. Andrew Symonds
Just simply entertaining. That is why he makes the list. I loved my cricket growing up, and seeing the big unit with the dreadlocks play was something that I will never forget. But what I liked the most about Symonds was his ability to be involved with absolutely everything.
He had one of the biggest power-hitting bats in international cricket rivalling Gilchrist down the order.
But his fielding at point and cover was the best, saving boundaries with magnificent forward dives into the fence. Add to that his ability to bowl better than part time off-spin and also throw in handy overs of medium pace and you have an entertainment machine
4. Lleyton Hewitt
Gritty, tough, a competitor. I started watching tennis when Lleyton won Wimbledon. But really enjoyed watching him as the likes of Federer, Sampras, Roddick and Nadal came onto the scenes a bit more – because I liked watching Lleyton as the underdog.
Lleyton is by far and away the toughest competitor that I have ever watched in any sport. When he had his back to the wall he was a mungral and would never ever say die. Even when looking down the barrel of 3 match points, and down 2 sets he would still fight to the bitter end. There will never be a grittier tennis player.
3. Shannon Echstein
Nicknamed the professor. Shannon was only very young when I started watching the Ironman series as a young bloke, back in the days when he was just starting to take over the reins as the supreme athlete he turned out to be. Shannon just dominated every swell with a fantastic ski leg and absolutely no weakness in his board, swim, or run disciplines. He was a freak at everything
2. Stephan Larkham
The first game of rugby I can remember was the semi-finals of the 99 World Cup. That is when I can remember this bloke doing something special for the first time. And it wasn’t even the drop-goal. I can remember larkham charging down an attempted conversation. And that is when I really started watching this fly-half more closely. Such a smart rugby brain, and so efficient at making others around him look good. The best passer of a rugby ball that will ever live.
1. Shane Warne
The best – and will always be the best. I used to stop everything to watch Warny bowl. There is just something really exciting about leg-spin. The unbelievable spin generated from the action, and the variant in deliveries. Warne was just a class of his own, and it was easy to get caught up in the action of each delivery. Such a smart cricketer who loved the contest.
I can remember Warnie destroying in form batsman in single overs, decimating the batting order before you could blink. Sometimes the onslaught was so bad that you kind of wanted to see a part-timer have a bowl just to get some runs on the board so that the test would go longer than 2 days. Warnie will forever go down as Australia’s best bowler and second best cricketer behind the great Sir Don.
The best athlete to watch bar none.