An all-rounder, on and off the field
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If you happen to be rich, successful and looking for a swanky property in coastal Durban, then agent Symcox — the former South African off-spinner — is the man to get in touch with. "I do have people working under me to do the door-to-door tours. But sometimes, for close associates and clients that I know, I give my personal attention," he says.
Ranging from former cricket colleagues to popular movie stars, Symcox deals with the who's who of the entertainment business on a daily basis. He may have once been the face of South Africa's spinning unit in the 90s, but the 50-year old is now the poster-boy of Remax — the country's largest real-estate franchise.
"Sometimes even I wonder how it all happened. But if you happen to be a Proteas cricketer who played at the time of readmission, you needed another job to sustain yourself. I was 32 when the apartheid finally ended."
With his prime behind him, Symcox claims that he never expected to ever don the green jersey, let alone the white one. "I was in the hospitality business when I got a call to pack my bags and get ready to catch my flight to Sri Lanka. I was told to drop what I was doing and bowl some spin for the country. Now that it is over, I have just picked up from where I left off."
Bowling his loopy off-breaks for 20 Tests and 80 ODIs, some would say that Symcox was the ultimate underachiever. But bowling in the company of the Donalds and Pollocks of the world, while also fighting for his spot with Nicky Boje and Paul Adams, Symcox did well to claim 109 wickets in both forms of the game combined. But his favourite memory in South African colours doesn't derive from his spin bowling, but something he did with the bat. "The century I scored against Pakistan in Johannesburg is what I will be remembered for. Being a spinner myself, I could play spin well and the Pakistanis found it quite hard to dismiss me."
Out of the four fifties that the tall man scored apart from the century, three have come against Pakistan, in Pakistan. It was also in Pakistan that Symcox achieved a rather distinct record of getting bowled but being given not out. "I was on 50 something in Faisalabad when Mushy (Mushtaq Ahmed) bowled me through the gap and I thought I was bowled. Then I turned around, and from the close-in fielder's reaction, I knew the ball had gone through the gap in the stumps without dislodging the bails. It happens once in a lifetime. That the home-side just gave up because I became a thorn in their flesh," he adds.
The 'thorn in the flesh' tag lingered long after he retired from cricket, agitating viewers and a broadcast channel with his views as a commentator. "Sometimes you have to call a spade-a-spade and people didn't like it. I retired once again in 2006, this time from the commentary box," he says, before adding, "I will never stop loving cricket though, for I am only one of 10 families in South Africa who have cricket in their blood for generations. From my grandfather to my son, we've all played first-class cricket."
Grabbing onto his coat and car keys after spotting another enter client his office lounge, he says: "Time to go." The booming voice-box may not have helped on-air, but sweet talking has made Symcox a businessman with a serious reputation in Durban.
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