Club Cricket Conference

Sunday, 21st July 2024

Defibs making their mark in recreational game

Richard Edwards

27 February 2024

Good news has been preciously thin on the ground in recent years, but you don’t have to scratch too far beneath the surface of the local press to find cause for celebration. 


The widespread instillation of defibrillators isn’t just giving fresh cause for optimism, it’s also saving lives. On and off the pitch. 


In late August, for example, a T20 friendly match between White Coppice Cricket Club and Ingol encapsulated just how critical the humble defibrillator has become. Ibrahim Akram, an all-rounder for White Coppice was fielding on the boundary as an Ingol batter picked up a couple of runs before collapsing at the crease.  


“While I was running in from the boundary edge, I sensed something was seriously wrong as players closer to him started to gather,” he said. 


As I got there, I immediately recognised the signs of him going into cardiac arrest, so I prepared to start CPR while we got another player to ring 999.  


“Once the defibrillator arrived, I applied the pads to his bare chest and followed instructions given by the device. It took 13 minutes of effective chest compressions and two shocks to resuscitate the patient. Thankfully he opened his eyes and was talking to me before paramedics arrived.” 


A decade ago, it’s likely we would have witnessed a far less happy outcome and another avoidable tragedy. 


But that’s the difference that the defibrillator campaign is making. For minimal outlay, cricket clubs up and down the country are saving lives that might otherwise have been lost. And yes, you would clearly rather the defib sat there, watching on, redundant, but as the White Coppice chairman, Paul Dobson, explains, not having one should no longer be an option. 


“it’s like your house insurance, isn’t it,” he says. “You pay £200 a year and you basically hope your house doesn’t ever burn down and you’re wasting your month. I couldn’t tell you how many clubs in our league do or do not have one, but I think if you’re putting cost before saving lives then you’re definitely making the wrong decisions”. 


“Hopefully what happened in our game against Ingol will also act as a spur for clubs to go out there and get one. At the moment, we have a mobile defib which travels in the club’s kit bag but we’re now in discussions with the local parish council, with a view to the cricket club housing a permanent one at the ground. It’s not just for the cricketers, we get a huge number of walkers in this area too. It would be great to play a role in keeping them safe should the worst ever happen.”  


Awareness is critical.  


Back in June 2021, Maqsood Anwar of Sully Centurions Cricket Club in Barry suffered a heart attack during a match against Monkswood. There was a defibrillator stationed next to the ground, but the players were unaware of its existence. The player died on the pitch, while waiting for an ambulance that had been called when Anwar had started complaining of chest pains. The club itself did not have a defibrillator on site.  


“If clubs can afford covers, then this should be funded too,” said a friend and team-mate at the time. 


It’s hard to argue with that point. And thankfully, increasingly, the penny has dropped, not just in Wales but across the country. With happy endings now outweighing tragedies.  


Last May, during a match between Glangrwyney and Porth in Powys, 51-year-old Mark Waldeck collapsed with chest pains. The home side had purchased a defibrillator just weeks before, with team-mate James Luckhurst bringing the device out to the middle ‘just in case’. It turned out to be a wise move, and as Waldeck’s condition worsened, Luckhurst put the pads on an administered the emergency treatment that, ultimately, saved Waldeck’s life. 


When he realised where he was and what might have happened, he said that he came round thinking he was surrounded by angels in white but then realised it was just a load of grubby cricketers,” said Luckhurst. 


Grubby cricketers who were fortunate enough to have a life-saving device that should now be found at every club in the land.