When Aswin Crist boarded the flight to New Zealand this June, he knew it was his last fling of the dice. The paceman’s career was on a surgical knife’s edge. The stakes were high and Aswin, unable to pursue his passion because of serious fitness concerns, had nowhere else to go.
Crist’s destination was Christchurch and Dr. Rowan Schouten’s medical centre.
Dr. Schouten is known as the miracle man of mending damaged backs, someone who got Shane Bond and James Pattinson back on the cricket field after everyone else had given them up for the dead.
"There was some fear in my mind but I was also confident I was going to the best possible surgeon," Crist revealed to Sportstar on Friday.
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The Tamil Nadu seamer’s two-hour surgery went off smoothly. “The day, it was over, Dr. Schouten asked me to walk,” said Crist.
The cost of the surgery, around Rs. 11 lakh, is likely to be reimbursed by the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) considering Crist’s contribution to state cricket.
“I have received a lot of calls from R.I. Palani [joint secretary TNCA] sir, and K.S. Viswanathan Sir [CEO, CSK] and they have been very supportive all through without putting any pressure on me,” the paceman said.
Still only 25, time is on Crist’s side; he has 69 wickets from 23 first class games, and his last Ranji match came in early 2017.
At his best, he can be lively and take the ball away from the right-hander. He also represented the India under-23 team at the Asia Cup in Bangladesh.
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Then came the roadblock.
“I felt a sharp pain in the back while bowling and knew something was wrong,” recalled Crist.
A stress fracture of the back is a condition pacemen dread. Despite a brief comeback, his career was effectively derailed.
A product of the MRF Pace Foundation, Crist thanked head coach M. Senthilnathan for his encouragement. “He is a very positive person, instills belief in you, removes the negative thoughts.”
And Crist acknowledged the help from physio and therapist Nitin Patel, physio Satheesh Kumar and trainer Rajnikanth during these difficult times.
Crist will start bowling again in the next couple of months. He is aiming for a comeback early in 2020.
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