My sister is a cardiologist and also played for the ACT Meteors cricket team. She was asked to work with the West Indian and Sri Lankan cricket teams during their tour of Australia. She had other commitments, so she passed the job onto me. I spent three or four days with them at a time in case of medical incidents. I spent some time with the physios and got to watch them train. The medicine itself is straightforward, just musculoskeletal medicine. Really, I just got to watch some great cricket. They were two contrasting teams. With Sri Lanka, the diligence and training was incredible. They’d train like they were playing. They’d practise batting for 40 minutes at a time and rebuke themselves if they missed a shot. Kumar Sangakkara was an academic — always reading a novel. Mahela Jayawardene was a bit of a joker. Tillakaratne Dilshan was a bit of a prankster. Once, he told training staff the bus was at 4.30pm when it wasn’t due for another hour. Everybody got all packed up and headed over, then came back to find him relaxing in the changing rooms. The West Indians were just what you’d expect: a bunch of boisterous boys. It was hard to round them up. You’d be out for dinner, look around, and they’d be away chatting to the locals. Players like Chris Gayle and Andre Russell — how hard they hit the ball. It was frightening, even standing behind the nets. I remember when the team was on its way to the Prime Minister’s XI match. We were on the bus to The Lodge and Darren Sammy, the captain, was talking to me to figure out what he would say. It was there that Julia Gillard’s partner, Tim Mathieson, made a joke — a gaffe about prostate cancer and digital rectal examinations. It was a bit awkward for a lot of people, but the West Indians found it amusing. I’ve had opportunities to do cricket things since then, but I’ve had to turn them down. Family commitments, you know.

Dr Robert Hungerford
Newcastle, NSW