The shocking news of England batsman James Taylor's sudden retirement from cricket at 26 due to a serious heart ailment was enough to take your mind back several decades when former Mumbai Ranji Trophy captain and current chairman of selectors of senior Mumbai teams, Milind Rege, suffered a heart attack in his playing days. (James Taylor's Innings For England Cut Short By Heart Problems)
Although Rege's case was not as serious as Taylor's, who is reportedly diagnosed with arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC) which causes abnormal heart rhythm, Rege was just 25 when he experienced heart pain.
"There was excruciating pain in my left arm. I had never experienced such pain before. I consulted my family physician Dr Dinoo Mhambrey and he recommended me to a cardiologist. Dr Mhambrey was not satisfied with his opinion and we consulted another expert Dr PA Kale. He diagnosed it a heart attack," Rege recalled yesterday.
"My life came crashing down. I was a regular in the Mumbai Ranji team from the age of 18, but all of a sudden, things changed. I was treated at KEM Hospital (in Parel). After four days in the Intensive Care Unit, the first thing I asked the doctor was, 'can I get back to cricket again?' And he said, 'of, course, you can.'
Back to training
"That gave me hope. It took me about a year and a half to get back to my routine, normal lifestyle. But once I got my confidence back, I was back to training. I was advised not to rush things. My doctor would take a cardiogram (ECG) before and after every practice session and he found my progress satisfactory.
"I scored a century in my first competitive match for Cricket Club of India. I also played the Dr HD Kanga Cricket League thereafter and came back into the Mumbai team (in 1977). In 1985, I went for a bypass surgery at 36 as it was just introduced," informed Rege.
Rege said it was his determination and strong mental make-up that helped him get back on the cricket field. "I was not bogged down. I never accepted that I am unwell. I was determined to play cricket again. Although I stopped bowling (off-spin) after the heart attack, I was always keen to continue in whichever way I could.
"I was always optimistic about playing cricket again. It is all in the mind. It is because of this strong will that I am still serving as a selector at 67," Rege signed off.