Inrdanil Dutta

Do you know what Ankylosing Spondylitis is? Only those who suffer from it know how painful it is. It’s actually an inflammatory disease. The persons who suffer from this disease have some small bones in their spine (vertebrae) which get fuses. And such fusing makes the spine less flexible and can result in a hunched-forward posture. And such fusing also gives the patient constant pain. Doctors generally say that the pain is so much that a large number of patients suffering from this disease can’t do even their daily normal chores, let alone participating in sports at the international level.

But one man proved the doctors wrong. And his name is Mike Atherton, England’s cricket team’s former captain. He never let his ‘Bad Back’ come in the way to the wicket. This degenerative disease has no cure till now in medical science. And another facet of the problem is patients are generally diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis when they are in their early 20s. And we all know that early 20s is a crucial time for any budding sportsman as that’s the time when they find themselves on the threshold of their career. And Athertons’s case was no different.

Former England skipper Mike Atherton. Photo Source: Twitter

It’s not difficult to understand what exactly was going on in a budding cricketer’s mind when he was diagnosed with a degenerative disease that has no cure. And giving up on life is not that unusual if that cricketer already knows his father’s career was ruined caused by the same disease. Yes, Mike’s father was a footballer who took premature retirement just because of that disease.

Once someone said that we humans love being mentally strong, but we hate situations that allow us to put our mental strength to good use. Yes, that’s true. Most of us give up in crisis. However, Mike was not willing to give up so easily. He was constantly suffering pain from a disease that would have stopped other men playing anything, let alone participating in cricket at the International level. But Mike never complained about his fate and continued to live his career to the fullest.

Mike Atherton, pint of ale in hand, having a bucket of water poured on him by Mike Gatting during the 1994/5 Ashes series. Photo Source: Twitter

His impressive career has seen him scoring sixteen 100s, forty-six 50s, and 7728 runs in 115 test matches. In first-class cricket, he scored fifty-four 100s and one hundred seven 50s. And another important information is he led the England team for 54 test matches and no other captain in the UK has that record till date. Although he was constantly suffering from pain, but people always found him smiling in front of the camera. ‘The strength of your mind determines the quality of your life.’ Yes, that’s quite true and Mike Atherton proves that in his life.

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