Blood, sweat, tears: From Watson to Kumble, cricketers who played braving injury

Words fail to describe the heroics of Shane Watson who batted with a bloody knee (requiring six stitches) to take CSK to the brink of victory in 2019 IPL finals.

Though Chennai Super Kings failed to cross the line, Shane Watson’s grit and Yel’love’ reasserted to the entire country the one fact that every cricket fan in Tamilnadu knows – Cricket is not just another sport and CSK is no ordinary team. It is family.

News Today, today, brings you five cricketers who battled great personal risk to play for their team. This is a story of blood, sweat, tears, and sacrifice.

 

Anil Kumble (India vs WI, Antigua, 2002)
No Indian cricket fan would forget the day when ‘Jumbo’ walked out with with a bandage around his face, bowled 14 overs with pain and took the wicket of Brian Lara nonetheless! It is perhaps one of the defining moments of Anil Kumble’s career. He had broken his jaw from a Merv Dillon delivery while he was batting and was in immense pain. West Indies were set for a win and just when the Men in Blue lost all hope, rose Kumble, like a phoenix. The match eventually ended in a draw.

Malcolm Marshall (England vs West Indies, Headingley, 1984)
Though considered to be the greatest of all West Indian pacers, one of Malcolm Marshall’s most endearing moments came with the bat when he did so one-handed! He had broken his thumb in two places on the very first morning of the Headingley Test. On Day Three, West Indies were leading thanks to Larry Gomes unbeaten on 96. But he was batting with the ninth wicket. When the wicket fell, much to everyone’s surprise, out walked Marshall. He batted one-handed without a care in the world and hung around to ensure Gomes got to his century.

Graeme Smith (South Africa vs Australia, Sydney, 2009)
Talking about one-handed batting, who can forget South African captain Graeme Smith’s knock against a steaming Mitchel Johnson. Set a target of 376, South Africa slipped to 257 for 9. Smith who retired hurt early in the first innings when a Mitchell Johnson delivery broke his left hand, walked out to bat at the fall of ninth wicket. Holding his bat with the bottom hand against the fiery Johnson and co., Smith braved nearly seven overs. But South Africa fell 10 balls short of a draw when a Johnson delivery sneaked in through the gate to dismiss Smith.

Gary Kirsten (Pakistan vs South Africa, Lahore, 2003)
Imagine getting hit by a Shoaib Akhtar delivery on the face. Gary Kirsten, the former South African player and arguably India’s favourite coach, unfortunately did not have to imagine, he was actually hit. Shoaib Akhtar, bowling around the wicket, pounded in a short ball to the well-set Kirsten. Kirsten was beaten for pace by the Rawalpindi Express as the ball smashed his face and Kirsten retired hurt for 53. South Africa lost regular wickets in the second innings, and at 149 for four, Kirsten walked out again. His face was barely recognisable with all the bruises. He scored a hard-fought 46. Pakistan eventually cruised home, but Kirsten’s heroic won the hearts, Pakistani and South African alike. X-rays later revealed that he suffered a broken nose.

Shane Watson (CSK vs MI, 2019 IPL Finals)
While all the heroics here are from players who were ready to sacrifice anything to see their country win, Shane Watson’s was for CSK, a club side. But, this simply reiterates the fact that the Chennai Super Kings is no ordinary team and the emotions run deep. The heart of the matter is that match after match this IPL season, Shane Watson failed to find form. But CSK is not a side to easily lose trust on their players and they persisted with him. And boy did he repay their trust. Batting first, Mumbai Indians scored 149 runs. Watson suffered bruises on his knees while fielding during the first innings but didn’t inform anybody. He came out to bat battling his injury alone and scored 80 runs before getting out in the final overs which gave Mumbai Indians their fourth IPL triumph. Watson’s pant was drenched in blood and it was hidden from the viewers as it was behind the pads. He had to get six stitches after the game. It speaks volumes of the man’s love and passion for the gentleman’s game and team CSK.

A Harsha Vardhan