Miracle man Jim makes five-star recovery

Jim Smallbone bowling
Jim Smallbone bowling
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Jim Smallbone shrugged off picking up a five-wicket haul almost a year to the day that he ‘died’ on a cricket field.

On June 28, 2012, the Petersfield cricketer strolled out to bat for the Hampshire over-60s, faced three balls and collapsed after suffering a cardiac arrest.

For the next 20 to 45 minutes, his heart had stopped and Smallbone was gone – much like footballer Fabrice Muamba, who went through a similar ordeal.

As paramedics battled to save the 63-year-old’s life, he needed resuscitating three times.

Then he woke up in hospital several hours later feeling fine and wondering what all the fuss was about.

Now, 12 months on, he is not prepared to opt for the comfy armchair.

And he’s certainly not giving up cricket – picking up successive five-wicket hauls of five for 19 and five for 18.

Not that he regards his feat as anything special.

Smallbone said: ‘I don’t think it’s anything special – maybe other people do.

‘I’ve taken all 10 wickets in a game back in 1991, so it’s nothing really.

‘I just enjoy playing cricket.

‘I don’t remember anything about what happened, so I can say to myself “it didn’t happen!”

‘I just carry on as normal.

‘I know people who have heart conditions and they shuffle around, they don’t do anything strenuous and it seems like they are just waiting to die.

‘I’m not like that.’

Recalling the incident, Smallbone’s memory is decidedly sketchy.

He said: ‘I didn’t feel unwell beforehand or think that I shouldn’t play. I just felt fine.

‘It was just a normal game to me.

‘I had just walked out to bat.

‘I can remember walking down the steps but I don’t remember anything after that.

‘Apparently I was out there for three balls and then it happened.

‘According to the notes, my heart stopped for 20 to 45 minutes.

‘But I didn’t feel any pain or anything.

‘In fact, I didn’t know anything about it until I came round in hospital several hours later.

‘I never heard the air ambulance arrive, I wasn’t aware of anything.

‘I “died” three times and had to be resuscitated three times.

‘It’s all a complete blank to me – but I think that’s probably for the best.’

Since then, it’s been a remarkable recovery.

He is on medication and has a defibrillator fitted in his chest to act as an insurance policy, as Muamba does.

But Smallbone has not let it affect his life.

He said: ‘I spent three weeks in hospital but they told me they couldn’t find out what had caused it.

‘So they fitted a defibrilator in my chest and that’s there in case it happens again – just like Fabrice Muamba.

‘The people at the hospital monitor me all the time.

‘But I haven’t had any problems since. I feel fine.

‘I’m on tablets but it hasn’t affected my life too much.

‘It’s not an issue to me.’

Now the slow left-armer is back among the wickets for Hampshire over-60s and Havant III.

And he has no plans to quit playing the game he loves.

He said: ‘I’ve had a couple of good days with the ball lately.

‘When it’s your day, it works and when it’s not, it doesn’t.

‘Once I joined the over-50s, I didn’t look back.

‘I knew I had the over-60s and over-70s to come – if I make it that far!’