Andrew Symonds’ daughter will celebrate her birthday without her father for the first time this week – four days after he died in a single-car crash – as it’s revealed he’d recently separated from his wife.
The legendary all-rounder was killed at about 10.30pm on Saturday when his ute veered off the road hit an embankment on the outskirts of Townsville, in North Queensland.
On Tuesday, his best mate and former teammate Jimmy Maher choked back tears as he confirmed that Symonds’ daughter Chloe is turning 10 on Wednesday.
Daily Mail Australia also understands Symonds and his wife Laura remained close despite being in the middle of a separation and had been living apart in the months before his death. She lived in Sydney with their children, Chloe and Billy, while he remained in Townsville.
Laura flew back to Townsville with the children after they were informed of the tragedy.
‘The family are struggling, as you’d expect, but they’re also holding up,’ Maher said.
Andrew Symonds’ daughter Chloe (pictured with her father and brother, Billy) will celebrate her 10th birthday on Wednesday
‘It’s difficult for young kids to comprehend such a loss as the magnitude as the loss of your father.
‘You have to try and keep them busy and ease their little minds and thoughts when you get the chance.’
Maher said he would ‘never come to terms’ with Symonds’ death, but pledged to ‘try and be a father figure’ to his two children.
‘To help the kids build up that resilience as they get older and help them understand just how much he loved them and how much he would do for them and what he would want for them in their life.
‘It’s going to be important to help them through that – I know that’s what he would want.’
Jimmy Maher (pictured on Tuesday afternoon) choked back tears as he pledged to try and be there for Symonds’ children
Andrew Symonds and his wife Laura remained close despite living apart before he died (pictured with their children, Chloe and Billy)
Maher has been spending time with the children and Symonds’ wife Laura since he arrived in Townsville on Monday, and described the family as ‘incredibly resilient.’
‘Anything we can do as friends to help – they just need family and friends around them at the moment.’
The family are waiting for final police reports before they start organising the funeral.
Maher grew up with Symonds in Charters Towers, south-west of Townsville, and said their bond was so close that ‘we could look at each other and know what the other was thinking and break out in a fit of laughter’.
‘And we knew what we were laughing about without even having to speak about it.’
Andrew Symonds (left) and former Queensland/Australian teammate Jimmy Maher (right) were mates for 30 years before Symonds’ life was tragically cut short
When speaking about his arrival in Townsville on Monday, Maher said it felt strange not to see his best friend at the airport.
‘Every time you come home you expect to see that big, beaming Roy smile telling me I’m late getting off the plane,’ he said.
‘And I have to say, “Look, I wasn’t flying the plane”.’
One of his favourite memories was when they both got selected to play cricket for Australia in the 2003 World Cup.
‘That was a huge moment because we went from playing in the under-8’s to that moment – it was the last piece of the jigsaw puzzle.
Jimmy Maher (left) and Andrew Symonds (right) shared many highs and lows together, including Queensland’s loss in the 2005 Pura Cup final
‘It was just an incredible thing to be all of a sudden in the same Australian World Cup tour with a best mate from such a young age who started on a similar path.’
Earlier on Tuesday, Maher revealed one of his fondest memories of the pair’s 30-year friendship was being part of Australia’s victorious 2003 World Cup squad.
‘Our cricket careers ran parallel to each other through all those years and we ended up playing so many games together for Queensland and then Australia,’ Maher recalled.
‘Our proudest moment was that 2003 World Cup win, having come that far together, since eight-year-olds from the bush.
‘We were great mates and to share that experience was incredible and I’ll certainly miss it.’