Former India batsman Nari Contractor suffered a head fracture after being hit by a Charlie Griffith bouncer on the 1962 tour of the Caribbean. Now, 60 years later, the metal plate inserted in the head through surgery has been removed at a Mumbai hospital on medical advice as Contractor was having pain. Contractor’s son Hoshedar told The Indian Express that his father di lui was fine after surgery and should be home soon.
“The operation was successful and he will be fine soon. He will be in hospital for a few more days and after doctor’s advice, we will take him home. We will take one step at a time. The skin was disintegrating on the plate. So he had lost the skin covering it, hence it was advised by the doctors to get it removed, ”Hoshedar said. “Our family was a bit worried which is natural. It’s not a major operation but is surely a critical operation. “
The 88-year-old Contractor represented India in 31 Tests and played 138 first- class games. His international career di lui was halted after that injury, though he made a comeback to first-class cricket. His determination and guts di lui shone against England in 1959 when he slammed 81 at Lord’s despite suffering broken ribs off the bowling of Brian Statham.
Contractor had undergone a series of operations after the Griffith bouncer and later a metal plate was inserted at a hospital in Tamil Nadu. In an interview to Mid-Day, Contractor had recalled what Dr Chandy, the doctor who had put in the metal plate all those years ago, told him about the two-and-a-half-hour surgery. “Do you know why it took that long? It’s because instead of putting a mesh, which we do normally, I have put a metal plate, which is heat- and cold-proof and I have made perforations for the nerves to tighten it. That took time. I had to cut the metal so that if you get hit on this [right] side again, nothing will happen to you. “
Chain of events
It was a series of unfortunate incidents that perhaps led Contractor 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 Rush Surti had shouted across that Griffith was chucking the ball and Contractor told him he should be telling it to the umpire instead of him. His focus of him was a bit off.
Then came that fateful ball and it’s been 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 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 he 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. “
During the surgery, at least five people donated blood to save Contractor’s life – legendary West Indian captain Frank Worrell, Chandu Borde, Bapu Nadkarni, Polly Umrigar and journalist KN Prabhu. Griffith would soon be castigated by the cricketing world for “chucking” while Contractor lay unconscious for six days. Griffith would later tell a heart-warming story about those days. Apparently, when Griffith’s wife visited Contractor at the hospital after he regained consciousness, he told her, “Charlie is not to blame… it was all my fault.”