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Monday, 13 May, 2002, 10:00 GMT 11:00 UK
Playing on through the pain
Anil Kumble
Kumble put country before constitution in Antigua

The sight of Anil Kumble bowling against the West Indies in Antigua with his broken jaw swathed in bandages may seem like heroism to some and madness to others.

Desperately needing surgey to repair the damage wreaked by a Merv Dillon bouncer, the leg-spinner instead took to the field and captured the wicket of Brian Lara.

Fearless or foolhardy, Kumble was not the first cricketer to put his country before his own constitution.

Rick McCosker
McCosker batted with a broken jaw
No-one expected Australian Rick McCosker to take any further part in the 1977 Centenary Test when he was bowled via a broken jaw by England fast bowler Bob Willis.

But he actually returned for the second innings, looking more like a Mummy than a batsman, to bat for nearly an hour and a half at number 10, scoring 25 as Australia won by 45 runs.

Compatriot Steve Waugh had to be restrained by doctors from batting in Kandy with a badly broken nose 22 years after McCosker's heroics.

The Aussie skipper sustained the injury in the field colliding with Jason Gillespie, who broke his leg.

Waugh ordered a helicopter to take him to the ground hours after surgery, but was not allowed to bat as Australia slumped to their first ever Test defeat against Sri Lanka.

Waugh defied medical advice two years later to score a century against England at The Oval, playing with a badly torn hamstring that would have prevented most people from walking.

The small matter of broken bones was never going to prevent West Indies fast bowler Malcolm Marshall from playing on.

Steve Waugh
Waugh defied medical opinion
And just to prove the point, he took career best figures of 7-53 as he skittled through England's batsmen at Headingley in 1984 with a doubly fractured left thumb.

He even managed to take a return catch off his own bowling and hit a one-handed boundary as he batted long enough for Larry Gomes to reach his century.

Perhaps the most famous act of selflessness on the field of play was acted out by England batsman Colin Cowdrey with his fractured left arm encased in plaster against the West Indies at Lord's in 1963.

Cowdrey's arm was broken by fast bowler Wes Hall, but he returned to bat in England's second innings one-handed, and held out to make an unbeaten 19 to save the match.

And just to prove that he was no wimp, Cowdrey answered his country's call 12 years later at the age of 42, more than three years after playing his last Test, to face the fearsome Australian pace duo of Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thompson.

The history of the game is littered with other such instances.


Graeme Wood made a record ninth wicket stand for Australia with Simon O'Donnell in 1985 against the West Indies, batting with a broken finger.

Unsurprisingly, there have been a few injuries and defiant performances in Ashes Tests.

Sid Barnes had to spend 10 days in hospital after batting for Australia at Old Trafford in 1948 despite earlier stopping a full blooded drive from Richard Pollard with his ribs while fielding at silly mid-on.

There were many casualties during the infamous Bodyline series in 1932-3, but most injured players did not make it back out onto the pitch.

One notable exception was Eddie Paynter, who left his nursing home sick bed to score a four-hour 83, and later struck the six that won the Ashes, while suffering from acute tonsilitis.

See also:

13 May 02 | West Indies v India
15 Dec 01 | Cricket
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