Warwickshire invited a Birmingham teenager to join Bears players at an Edgbaston training session to help his return to cricket following a brain tumour diagnosis.
Umar Qureshi spent time with Olly Hannon-Dalby, Liam Norwell and Henry Brookes at the Club’s Indoor Centre before enjoying a behind-the-scenes tour of the stadium.
The 15-year-old, from Smethwick, had signed to play for a local club at the start of the year but his plans were put on hold after he was diagnosed with Germinoma – a rare brain tumour which had grown behind the pituitary gland connected to the brain.
The tumour had begun to affect Umar’s eyesight and, as the pituitary gland sends signals to the brain to release hormones, it was also stunting his growth.
He underwent 12-weeks of intensive chemotherapy at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, plus five weeks of proton therapy in Manchester.
Thankfully the treatment shrunk the tumour and he’s now cancer free. Umar is now focusing on his GCSE’s and getting back to playing cricket for his school and club teams.
“Umar absolutely loves cricket,” said Mum Noreen Qureshi. “He couldn’t sleep the night before our visit because he was so excited. He had his bat ready to be signed.
“He was playing at school and asked to sign up with a local cricket club. We bought him all the kit but shortly before he was due to start we got the news that he was poorly so it meant he wasn’t able to play.
“He’s been so positive throughout his treatment. Even with all the obstacles he’s had to overcome, and he’s still got a journey to get through with his diagnosis, he’s remained upbeat.
“One of his drivers has been getting back well enough to play cricket again – so it’s fantastic he’s been able to meet the players and get some tips. He and his brother had a lovely time…they didn’t want to leave the nets, they’d have spent all day there!”
Warwickshire First Team Coach Mark Robinson showed Umar and his 11-year-old brother Yusuf around the dressing room – where he stopped for a selfie by Moeen Ali’s locker – before heading pitch-side.
“It was lovely to welcome Umar and his family to Edgbaston,” said Robinson. “I believe they gave the three guys a good workout at the indoor school!
“We’ve given them a goodie bag each to take away, including Junior Bears season passes which means they can return any time they want next year to watch a game.
“It was heartening to hear Umar’s story, his recovery, and his passion for cricket. We all wish him well for the future. He’s welcome to return any time.”
Sheeba Ali, from Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “Our patients go through so much during their treatment and visits like this give them a much-needed boost.
“We’re so thankful to the club, players and coach for giving Umar and his family their time.”
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