Contractor's skull plate removed after 60 years

Former India cricket captain Nari Contractor (right) went home on Sunday after undergoing an operation to remove the titanium plate that was inserted into his skull 60 years ago.

The plate was inserted after Contractor suffered a life-threatening injury when he was hit on the head by a bouncer by West Indies fast bowler Charlie Griffith during a match against Barbados at Bridgetown during the 1961-62 tour.

"Yes, he's back home. Of course, we're all happy and excited to have him back home. The operation went well and he is recovering," said his son Hoshedar Contractor, who added that the plate was removed because the skin was growing on it and would have caused further problems to the 88-year-old.

Contractor was struck on the back of his head when he opened the innings with Dilip Sardesai.

It was a series of unfortunate incidents that perhaps led the opener to be knocked out by the pacy Griffith bouncer that day.

Just before that fateful ball, he was dropped at short-leg. Had that been taken, Contractor wouldn't have been facing that bouncer.

A ball before that, his partner Rusi Surti shouted across that Griffith was chucking the ball and Contractor told him to tell that to the umpire instead of him. His focus was a bit off.

Then came that fateful ball and it was said that Contractor was distracted by someone opening a window in the dressing room.

There have been various versions about whether he ducked into that bouncer or it just knocked him off.

Wisden, the Bible of Cricket, reported it thus: "Contractor did not duck into the ball. He got behind it to play at it. He probably wanted to fend it away towards short-leg but could not judge the height to which it would fly, bent back from the waist in a desperate, split-second attempt to avoid it and was hit just above the right ear."

A blood clot developed in his skull and it pressed against the brain, paralysing Contractor from the waist down. Two surgeries were performed in Barbados to remove the clot.

During the surgery, at least five people donated blood to save Contractor's life - West Indian captain Frank Worrell, Indian players Chandu Borde, Bapu Nadkarni and Polly Umrigar and journalist K.N. Prabhu.

The titanium plate, which prevented any further damage to Contractor's skull and brain, was inserted by neurosurgeon Dr Chandy during an operation at Vellore, Tamil Nadu, so that the cricketer could resume playing.

Though Contractor could not play Test cricket after that injury, he did play first-class cricket and later became a coach at the Cricket Club of India Academy in Mumbai.

Indo-Asian News Service

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