Kiwi sur­geon wires up wounded crick­eters

Sunday News - - NEWS - MARK GEENTY

CHRISTCHURCH or­tho­pe­dic sur­geon Gra­hame Inglis has be­come the crick­et­ing world’s goto doc when it comes to fix­ing fast bowlers.

Since 2004 when Inglis’ steady hands helped to ex­tend a bro­ken Shane Bond’s in­ter­na­tional ca­reer by six years, his suc­cess rate has been re­mark­able: Black Caps Matt Henry, Hamish Ben­nett and An­drew El­lis all re­turned to in­ter­na­tional cricket af­ter the op­er­a­tion, and all­rounder Corey An­der­son was the lat­est wheeled out of the­atre with a smile last month.

Such is Inglis’ rep­u­ta­tion that even Cricket Aus­tralia by­passed their highly skilled com­pa­tri­ots to send fast bowler James Pat­tin­son to Christchurch in com­ing weeks.

‘‘We ba­si­cally re­pair the frac­ture and we do it with a min­i­mal­is­tic ap­proach that doesn’t seem to up­set the rhythm of these topline fast bowlers,’’ Inglis said.

‘‘The suc­cess rate is very good. As far as spinal pro­ce­dures go it’s at the lower end in terms of tech­ni­cal de­mands. It’s a rel­a­tively straight­for­ward pro­ce­dure with a pre­dictably good out­come.’’

Inglis, 67, is semi-re­tired but still works at Bur­wood Hos­pi­tal’s renowned spinal unit. He was New Zealand Cricket’s or­tho­pe­dic sur­geon for years be­fore hand­ing the scalpel to Rowan Schouten, who he as­sisted with An­der­son’s surgery and will do the same with Pat­tin­son. It takes be­tween one hour and 90 min­utes and is fo­cused on the L5 ver­te­bra where most bowlers’ stress frac­tures oc­cur.

‘‘We clean out the frac­ture and har­vest bone grafts from the pelvis. Then we use two screws and a bit of ti­ta­nium ca­ble and per­form a ten­sion band-type op­er­a­tion across the arch of L5. It com­presses and sta­bilises the frac­ture.’’

Inglis adapted the pro­ce­dure for ath­letes af­ter a six-month fel­low­ship in the 1980s in Ed­in­burgh, where a sur­geon named Jimmy Scott was us­ing wire to re­pair ver­te­bra, and first op­er­ated on javelin throw­ers, high jumpers and swim­mers.

Said Bond, now Eng­land’s bowl­ing coach in Aus­tralia: ‘‘He’d never done it on a crick­eter and he talked to me about not bowl­ing quick again, and I said ‘I don’t have a ca­reer any­way, this is the last re­sort’.

‘‘When I got back to first-class cricket it took me a game and a half be­fore I de­cided I could re­ally up the in­ten­sity and then I knew – I could still bowl as quick as I used to.’’

Shane Bond cred­its Inglis for sav­ing his ca­reer.

Gra­hame Inglis.

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