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December 2009
After 20 Years
Sherry Roy

In his book Changing Pace, Sir Hadlee describes the way in which his life, once so successful and full of high achievement, was suddenly shattered as he experienced a debilitating heart attack that led to major surgery and shortly afterwards his marriage of twenty-two years disintegrated and came to a painful end.

He describes how, with the help of the woman who was to become his new wife, Dianne, he picked up the pieces and created a new life, first as a cricket ambassador and commentator and then as the chairman of selectors for New Zealand Cricket.

David Firth's book A Study on Cricket's Suicides notes that Sir Richard had gone to the verge of suicide, but managed to pull back just in time.

You are 58 but look healthier than an average 30 year old. Do you still hit the gym?
No, no (waves away the question)… I just walk, mostly. I used to cycle before the knee started troubling me. What you see on me now is yesteryears' glory. I do play golf (but for the knee…), and have a handicap of 13 now. I used to play football and rugby while in school.

Then you must be having a strict control over your diet. What is your favourite food?
Till this moment, it is seafood chowder soup, roast lamb and vegetables, ice cream, fruit salad, beer, rum and coke, red wine… The Commodore Hotel in Christchurch should be the best restaurant in the world - they have the best seafood chowder in the world. I can eat quite well, you see, but the dietician at Apollo hospitals has advised me to change something to help my knee and hip, so I'll have to factor those in now.

431 wickets! How is you body holding up, almost 20 years after retirement?
I think I bowled some one hundred thousand balls during my first class international career. And each time I leapt up to ball, I landed with six to seven times my body weight on my left leg (like every fast bowler). You don't understand what you're subjecting your body to when you are young and have rushing adrenalin, but when you're 58, your body reminds you that often.

The recent India-Australia series had almost half the Aussie side returning home due to injuries…
It is rather a legacy, especially for fast bowlers, to have such niggling problems. During my stay in Delhi during that series, I met with some of those Australian cricketers, who were staying in the same hotel. I happened to discuss with them regarding my niggling knee problem, which has been plaguing me for some time. One of the cricketers said he was suffering from the same and suggested I should consult with the Apollo hospitals. That's how I've come over to Hyderabad where they've opened an exclusive Knee Clinic.

You've had quite some surgeries - the back, the heart…
I had a knee check at the Apollo Knee Clinic, Hyderabad, as I came down to inaugurate it. A regular run through of the facilities was all that was on the cards. The experience has been incredible, but I found out that my knee needs surgical correction! I didn't know that it was so bad. I am really grateful to the team of doctors here who attended to my problem.
In his book Changing Pace, Sir Hadlee describes the way in which his life, once so successful and full of high achievement, was suddenly shattered as he experienced a debilitating heart attack that led to major surgery and shortly afterwards his marriage of twenty-two years disintegrated and came to a painful end. He describes how, with the help of the woman who was to become his new wife, Dianne, he picked up the pieces and created a new life, first as a cricket ambassador and commentator and then as the chairman of selectors for New Zealand Cricket. David Firth's book A Study on Cricket's Suicides notes that Sir Richard had gone to the verge of suicide, but managed to pull back just in time.

That must have come as a shock! Like, you are here to inaugurate a Knee Clinic, but suddenly the doctor breaks the news that your knee needs surgery…

(Shrugs) I've always bounced back and learnt lessons from setbacks. Adversity is a test of character.

What would you change about your life, if you had the chance to?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing. All the joy and the pain, I'll take them as they were.

Your advice to today's bowlers?
Tendulkar managed to play 20 years, and that's a great achievement. But if any random cricketer would last 10 years today, that would be an achievement, considering the amount of cricket they are playing. There is more money today with the IPL, but your knee and your back will be the price you'll have to pay for it. So, watch out when you're doing things. I suggest that the Apollo Hospitals should start an exclusive sports medicine unit like this Knee Clinic that's just been launched, so that cricketers would know exactly where to go when in trouble.
 

    
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