It isn’t an easy task for a cricketer to come out to the middle despite a broken jaw, finger, wrist or a torn hamstring in the course of a game.
In most of these cases, cricketers choose to stay back and protect themselves for the offing. However, a few, a very few, have showcased the guts of warriors. They came back for the larger interest of a team's cause despite knowing that it may have been sheer tomfoolery and could probably quell their careers once and for all.
On that note, we take a look at five instances where cricketers showed extraterrestrial grit to come back to the pitch after getting injured. They hung in there for their team's cause withoutcaring about their debilitating body blows.
1. Rick McCosker (Australia versus England, 1977)
It was the Centenary test and Australia was pitted against England in a showdown of bloated confidence and aggression, like Test cricket used to be in its antiquity.
As Rick McCosker cited in an interview that it was like an unwritten rule to not play a hook shot in the first morning at the Melbourne Cricket Ground as there was too much moisture in the pitch and the ball frequently kept on bouncing with some searing pace behind it.
After Australia won the toss, they decided to bat and it was on the shoulders of Ian Davis and McCosker to open the innings. Ian Davis fell victim to some magical swing from Bob Willis as he got the opener leg trapped before the wicket. In order to shrug off the initial pressure, McCosker wanted to smash a boundary and take the chains off.
With such high ambitions, McCosker made a fatal error of judgment as he went on to hook a bouncer off Willis. Haplessly, his timing was all over the place as an extremely early commitment saw the ball rattling his jaw with zero mercy. Much to his woe, the ball also dislodged the bails. McCosker lost both his wicket and his jaw.
McCosker was benumbed of any senses and was bleeding badly, with his face distending like a balloon. He claimed to have heard a loud noise in his head. He started walking back to the pavilion and once he reached there, the condition of his face aggravated as the swelling never stopped as his face turned black.
After the initial prognosis by the dressing room doctor, it was adjudged as a mere bruising. However, the situation started getting worse for McCosker as he was slowly losing his senses. Luckily the Australian team managed to get a grip on an orthodontist who suggested an immediate X-ray. After the report came out, it was found that McCosker's jaw was broken in two places.
Australia, in the mean time, were bundled out for a mere 138 runs in the first innings as their batsmen could not recover from an early batting collapse. However, their bowling led a strong reply as it ripped apart England for a meagre 95, as Australia eked out a lead of 43 runs.
With the stadium choc-a-bloc for the game, the concourse all hyped up, giving up was never an option. Once again in the second innings, Australia started stuttering, but were relieved by some phenomenal batting from their wicket-keeper, Rodney Marsh.
Despite a rare flop in the first innings, Australia were well-aware of England’s batting depth and knew that every single run mattered. When they were six wickets down in the second innings, McCosker decided to go out and aid Marsh in crafting a big knock. However, the skipper Chappell didn't allow him to do so.
In the process of waiting, Gary Gilmour fell to some English trickery of the highest order. With the new ball due in the very next over, Greg Chappell told Rick McCosker that he won’t allow the opener to face it. Much to the friendly banter and chagrin of Rick McCosker, an Australian opener was humbled by a bowler when one of their leading pacemen was sent to weather the new-ball storm.
Dennis Lillee was sent out to the middle to spend as much time as he could. However, with very limited batting skills, he got out and Chappell finally had to resort to McCosker.
The score read 353 for 8 and in the middle was an invincible Rodney Marsh and a new batsman who had his jaws served on a platter in the first innings. Much to his expectations, Tony Greig, the English captain, asked his bowlers to bowl relentless bouncers at their injured guest.
The first bouncer from John Lever was hooked with imperious dominance by McCosker. After that, he didn’t really resort to many pompous heroics of blasting around perfect cricketing shots. He focused more on hanging in there with an airtight defence, helping Marsh reach his century and Australia take a formidable lead.
Finally, the declaration came at 419 for 9. England had a mountain to climb. McCosker’s gritty 25 helped Australia to hang in there and actually strike the winning runs which they would eventually realise.
Derek Randall’s impudent 174 placed England on course for a remarkable victory. With depth in their batting, it wouldn’t have been a difficult task for the English tail to chase the remaining runs once Randall got dismissed. The score was 346 for 5.
That is when another magical spell unspooled in front of the world. Dennis Lillee wreaked havoc through the English tail to give Australia an incredible victory over England.
Probably Lillee would have received all the plaudits on the final day but cricket stayed witness to first-hand bravery forged in the heart of a mere mortal with a broken jaw.
2. Kedhar Jadhav (India versus Bangladesh: Asia Cup final 2018)
The rivalry between India and Bangladesh has hyped up exorbitantly in recent times following the evolution of Bangladesh into a phenomenal cricketing force from the subcontinent.
It was one such occasion when India were up against Bangladesh and it was the prestigious finale of the continental supremacy.
After a fabulous start to their innings by Bangladesh, courtesy a fine knock from Liton Das, India were under the cosh. However, their bowlers came back strong to bundle Bangladesh for a handful 222. Kuldeep Yadav was the pick of the lot with three wickets and India’s phenomenal fielding prevented Bangladesh posting more runs on the board.
With the pitch doing its thing for the bowlers in the second half, India were jolted to a rude awakening when they lost Shikhar Dhawan and Ambati Rayudu in quick succession. Despite Dinesh Kartik and Rohit Sharma steadying the ship, Rubel Hossain got the better of India’s hitman, forcing him to hole out to Nazmul Islam in the deep.
Despite MS Dhoni and Kartik putting up their best show in the middle that featured resilience and persistence, India would shortly find themselves in hot waters after Kartik was trapped before the wicket.
Kedhar Jadhav walked in and with minimal assistance from Dhoni, went on to score an unbeaten 19 until more setback materialised. Dhoni, while trying to free his arms, ended up squandering his wicket and India’s crisis deepened at 160 for 5. Ravindra Jadeja walked out to the middle and had to usher India home in the company of Jadhav.
Jadhav was already hobbling after pulling his hamstring trying to secure a quick run. The pain aggravated and he had to retire hurt, exposing India’s vulnerable tail to the fiery bowling of their continental counterparts.
Jadeja and Bhuvneshwar Kumar stitched a watchful partnership of 55 runs to bring India within closing distance of victory before the former was caught behind the stumps off Rubel Hossain. Once again Indian fans felt that victory was slipping away. In came hobbling with a torn hamstring, Kedhar Jadhav. It was not going to be easy for him as running between the wickets was almost out of the equation.
Another mishap for India unfurled when Bhuvneshwar Kumar ended up caressing a delivery that was angling away from him and Mushfiqur Rahim held on to a blinder behind the stumps. India now needed 9 more runs for victory with only 11 deliveries left. At the crease was Kuldeep Yadav, who probably picks up the bat only for some entertainment. The onus was on Kedhar Jadhav to win it for India.
Yadav got off the mark on his very first delivery, managing a good amount of bat behind the ball to bring Jadhav back on strike. An injured Jadhav fended off three deliveries only to garner a couple in the last ball of the over.
Six runs were needed from the final over, the twist in the tale being Kuldeep Yadav was on strike and Jadhav couldn’t run. Mahmudullah was given the herculean task to pull off the final over.
Kuldeep Yadav sneaked in a cheeky single as Kedhar Jadhav was visibly in pain trying to make it to the striker’s end. What made this game even more heroic for Jadhav was that he did exactly what he was not supposed to do. After realizing the fact that he was not in a state to smack a biggie, he decided to put his frayed hamstring to some torment as India started gathering singles in the final over.
India needed one run off the last delivery to win the Asia Cup. With the entirety of the field inside the circle, Jadhav lurched himself for the final delivery. Missing his bat, the ball glanced his pads and rolled down the boundary to give India a thrilling win in the Asia Cup final.
You do not become a hero in a cosmic fluke. It needs pain, sorrow and most importantly triumph under torment. Kedhar Jadhav once again validated his prowess through that lifetime cameo.
3. Sourav Ganguly (India versus Sri Lanka, 2006)
It wasn’t a very good time for the former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly as he was recovering from a limbo after losing his captaincy to Rahul Dravid. Strongly focused on his batting, Ganguly was returning to the international podium with baby steps.
After batting first, Sri Lanka set up a modest total of 259 for India to chase. With Sourav Ganguly and Virender Sehwag doing the opening, India could sit back and relax.
It was the third ball of the second over when Ganguly was facing Farvez Maharoof that a nasty delivery rattled his ribs after the batsman missed the ball completely. Ganguly nevertheless managed to nudge the ball away for a single, but clearly seemed disconcerted.
Enduring one more delivery, the left-hander collapsed to the ground in agony. It wasn't pretty clear where Ganguly caught the delivery because it seemed to miss his ribs. However, Ganguly decided to walk off and let Robin Uthappa take guard.
Uthappa and Sehwag produced a fine partnership and fired India to 92 in no time before the former ended up smashing straight down the throat of Sanath Jayasuriya.
After some discomforting moments, Dinesh Kartik ended up smashing the ball straight into the arms of Dilhara Fernando as India lost their second wicket at the score of 110. With the deja vu of previous disappointments sinking in early, Sourav Ganguly returned to the crease.
Whiling away a bit at the pitch steadying himself, Ganguly's first consolidated response came after three overs when he smacked Fernando for a six over the ecstatic fans at long leg.
Catastrophe unfurled shortly as Virender Sehwag followed Kartik back to the pavilion after he ran himself out after hesitation with Ganguly.
Yuvraj Singh then joined hands with Ganguly to stitch a stand of 145 runs for the third wicket. Ganguly hobbled in pain and played the anchor to the innings while Singh kept on hewing away.
Ganguly limped his way to glory while India walked away with the bragging rights, thanks to relentless aggression from Yuvraj Singh and a very calm head from the recently deposed skipper.
4. Malcolm Marshall (West Indies versus England, 1984)
West Indies used to be one of the most formidable teams in the cricketing canon until the team imploded due to internal conflicts with its authority and stalwarts.
Malcolm Marshall is one of the most fearsome bowlers to have graced the game. It was in 1984 when West Indies were on a tour of England and the contest was in Headingley.
Marshall ended up fracturing his thumb in two places on the very first morning of the Test. England exploited most of their chances to reach a significant 270 against one of the most intimidating bowling line ups in cricket history that featured the likes of Joel Garner and Michael Holding besides an injured Marshall.
Larry Gomes and Michael Holding ensured that their painstaking 80-run stand crafted a healthy lead for the West Indies. However, when Holding got dismissed, Larry Gomes was not out on 96 and everyone thought he won't be get a chance to complete his century because Marshall had a broken thumb and batting was seemingly out of the equation.
Astonishing everyone, Marshall came out to bat and hung in there, batting with just one arm, a feat that made the English fielders laugh and the Caribbean bowler laughed with them. Not only did he hang in there, he also smashed Paul Abbott for an impudent drive to the boundary.
However, the English laughs were short-lived and soon metamorphosed into a living nightmare. Marshall returned to rampage through the English batting line up in the second innings, picking up seven scalps for a paltry 53 runs, bowling out the hosts for a mere 159. West Indies won the game by a comprehensive 8-wicket margin.
England would never underestimate a West Indies mean-machine again, courtesy of Malcolm Marshall's heroics.
5. Tamim Iqbal (Bangladesh versus Sri Lanka, Asia Cup 2018)
Bangladesh were involved in a crucial group-stage encounter against Sri Lanka when Tamim Iqbal came out to open for Bangladesh.
It was in the very second over when Sri Lankan fast bowler Suranga Lakmal bowled a nasty bouncer at Iqbal who didn't find enough time to sway or duck. The ball smote his left wrist and brought him down instantly on to his knees. After walking out of the pitch, Iqbal headed straight to a doctor whose grim prognosis stated that the opener had clattered his left wrist.
With a communique already passed that he would be sidelined for at least six weeks, Tamim Iqbal stunned everyone when he came out to bat in the 47th over after the fall of the 9th Bangladeshi wicket.
Iqbal's walk out to the crease ensured that Mushfiqur Rahim could carry on with his carnage. In the next three overs, Rahim went on to smash 42 runs to fire Bangladesh to a respective total of 261.
It wasn't an easy task for Tamim Iqbal to bat because he needed a special kind of padding to avert any further injury. He also batted with one hand which could have been a suicide mission. However, the batsman ensured that he stayed unbeaten and gave the much-needed support to Rahim to give a mountain of runs for Sri Lanka to chase.
Bangladesh bowlers made quick work of Sri Lanka as they won the game by a whopping 157-run margin. Mushfiqur Rahim was adjudged the man of the match, but Tamim Iqbal hogged the limelight with some top-notch guts.
With all said and done, the aforementioned five instances were just a few from an endless list on which one can have a book written about the mortal heroics of cricketing greats.
Notable mentions also include Anil Kumble, Steven Smith, Rahul Dravid and Graeme Smith who went on to chronicle such amazing acts which probably did not contribute to the team's winning cause but nevertheless went down in history in the brightest letters.