“It all started in Abu Dhabi 10 months ago. We had a day off and I wanted to do a little bit of extra training. They say only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun and that’s exactly what I did. It was 45 degrees and I decided to go for a 5km walk.”
Little did ex-Warwickshire batsman and now Afghanistan Director of Cricket Andy Moles know that this would be the beginning of a series of incidents that would culminate in him losing his lower left leg and relying on support of the Professional Cricketers’ Trust.
“When I got back, the bottom of my foot felt very hot. I thought it was just the heat from the pavement but when I took my shoe off I saw that there was an extremely large blister there.
“The blister was treated and dressed but unfortunately became infected. I then had four or five months whilst travelling the world with the Afghanistan cricket team which included numerous hospital visits to have it treated and dressed. I eventually returned to my home in Cape Town in early February with the wound all but heeled.
“I did though have cause to visit my Doctor in Cape Town to have a sore on my little toe checked out. This is where my problems really started. The sore was diagnosed as a diabetic ulcer and required hospital treatment as soon as possible. This treatment initially appeared to be successful but after a few days the wound created from the treatment became infected, leading to my little toe being amputated. During the hospital stay recouping from the amputation of my little toe I contracted a hospital MRSA bug, resistant to antibiotics.
“A specialist came to see me on Saturday 4th April – I’ll always remember the date – and he said we could keep on cutting the infected flesh away but it’s just not going to get any better. My leg was going to have to be amputated just below the knee, waiting another day could mean my whole leg or even my life.Andy Moles
“At 12.30pm I went into the operating theatre and by 4pm I woke up without one of my limbs. That was it.”
Such a harrowing situation would have been unthinkable to the Andy Moles of 26 years ago. Part of the hugely talented treble-winning Warwickshire side of 1994, the stoic opening batsman was famed for his rock-solid technique and extraordinary determination. He admits that he often felt “bulletproof” whilst counting stars of the game such as Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock and Brian Lara amongst his peers.
“I held the post of PCA rep for one year so I was aware of the great work that the PCA do, but I never imagined that I would need to lean on them for their support.”
For Moles, that support has included funding for a brand-new specialist prosthetic leg which will enable him to continue a coaching career that has taken him as far afield as South Africa, New Zealand and now Afghanistan. The 59-year-old is no stranger to adversity, relishing the “underdog tag”, and he hopes to channel that energy as he attempts to get to grips with life with his new limb.
“To be honest, when I found out about the amputation I had half an hour where I had a bit of a wobbly lip and felt sorry for myself – and was fearful of how this would impact my future and my career.
“But then it dawned on me that, even though it was tragic and sad, if I look around the world at all the things that are happening, what right do I have to feel sorry for myself.
“With The Professional Cricketers’ Trust’s support I was able to seek the best advice and source the most suitable prosthetic leg to allow me to continue coaching, and the plan is to complete the Trust’s #charity10for10 challenge over the next month as I learn to walk again. I’ve made a start, completing a 100m and two 200m walks in the first five days with my new leg.”
“My aim, once I’ve completed a total of 9km, is to walk the final 1km unaided in one go. Whilst I’m told that is very optimistic in my first month, this is a challenge I am willing to accept.”Andy Moles
Assistance offered by the Professional Cricketers’ Trust can range from the provision of specialist medical equipment right through to emotional counselling for PCA members and their immediate families – another area where Moles is grateful for the support of the players’ charity.
“The Trust has been making sure I’m seeing the best people and they’ve even contacted my partner Megan here. The injury obviously happened to me but it affects people close to me too and they also need that support.
“It just shows what a great game we’re lucky to be a part of. Over the last month or so I’ve become even more aware of the brilliant work that the Trust does. It really is overwhelming to see just how many players have been supported by The Trust over the years.
“I was very fortunate to play in a successful team, but whether you’re fortunate enough to play first-class cricket or just had one season on a professional staff, we’re all part of the PCA family. I think that’s one of the things we can feel most proud of, that we belong to a family, and as a family we must look after our own.”
Moving forward, ‘Moler’ aims to use his story to inspire others to overcome adversity, even though he is still in the early stages of his own recovery. He also hopes to raise funds for – and awareness of – the Professional Cricketers’ Trust.
“Over the past month or so I’ve realised that I’m in a position where I can play a role to support and inspire others facing life changing outcomes. I’m certainly going to look at ways of how I can mentor and support others who find themselves in a similar circumstance.
“The charity helped me out in my hour of need, and unfortunately there will be others that will need that help too. Today, I’m launching a challenge to all PCA members. If I can do 10km on one-and-a-half legs over a month, I don’t see why fit guys can’t do 10km, and it really doesn’t matter how long it takes. Let’s get the charity funded so the Trust can continue taking proper care of its family for many years to come.
“I’ve also been encouraged by many of my non-cricketing friends to simply open a Just Giving page so they too can play their part and make a donation to the Trust – you don’t have to run 10km to donate.
“I’ll keep you all up to date by writing a blog about my experiences and how the challenge is progressing. I hope I can inspire as many people as possible to support The Professional Cricketers’ Trust.”
Trust President David Graveney spoke of the courage former opponent ‘Moler’ has shown throughout his ordeal: “In this period of terrible uncertainty we have sought to be inspired by uplifting stories.
“Andy Moles played for Warwickshire between 1986 and 1997, scoring over 20,000 runs and showing great skill and courage during an era dominated by the fastest bowlers that county cricket has ever witnessed. More importantly, the way that ‘Moler’ conducted himself both on and off the pitch made him universally popular with friend and foe.
“This year has been life-changing for Andy, culminating with his left leg being amputated
from below the knee. The way he has dealt with this scenario has been truly remarkable.
Typically, he has not sought sympathy for himself but has set his heart on raising as much money as possible for the Professional Cricketers’ Trust.
“I am sure we have all experienced low moments over the past weeks and I would be no different. But what has dragged me from those dark places is always to remember the courage and hope that Andy is showing us all.
“The Trust will always be there for Andy during his rehab and beyond, so let us all support his fundraising efforts.”
Show your support for Andy in his quest to walk 10km for The Professional Cricketers’ Trust. You can donate for #Molers10for10 on his Just Giving page.