Cricketer returns to action a year after ‘dying’ during a game

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Jim Smallbone shrugged off picking up a five-wicket haul almost a year to the day that he ‘died’ (photo: The News, …

A senior cricketer is back at the crease, one year after ‘dying’ during a game.

Left-arm spinner Jim Smallbone suffered a heart attack after just one over of Hampshire’s over-60s match against Sussex in June 2012.

With three of his major arteries blocked, Smallbone collapsed to the ground while in to bat, where opposing wicketkeeper Mick Tindall saved his life with vital first aid.

Tindall, 62, said: “I was standing next to him when he went into cardiac arrest. The bowler was about to start his run-up when Jim backed away and then fell to the floor.”

Smallbone’s sister and father passed away in their 50s due to heart problems.

“The last thing I remember is walking to the wicket,” he explained. “Next thing I knew I was in hospital.

“I do not remember anything but for everyone else it was a shocking and traumatic time.

“I am so lucky Mick was playing. He was a first responder and saved my life and I cannot thank him enough.

“If I had been on my own somewhere I certainly would not be here.”

Smallbone, of Petersfield, added: “I never once thought I would retire. I’m aiming for the England over-70s as I need something to look forward to.

“I’m trying to have a normal life and cricket is part of that. It is one of my main loves. I have played all my life.

“The fact I am out there is brilliant. Most people would go into a shell, take it easy and do nothing. Not me. I was not particularly nervous the first time I stepped back out.”

The scare was similar to that of footballer Fabrice Muamba, who collapsed on the pitch during a game between Bolton and Tottenham. His heart stopped for 78 minutes.

“I am very similar to Muamba. He had the right medical team on the pitch, as I did, and we both have had no after-effects.

“Normally when you have these sort of issues when your heart stops you get brain damage.

“We are the luckiest people in the world.”

Refusing to let last year’s incident deter him, Jim has already claimed 15 wickets this season.

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