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Colonel's thanks to heart surgeon

PUBLISHED: 06:35 13 May 2009 | UPDATED: 09:30 06 July 2010

David James plays over-60s cricket after recovering from heart surgery

David James plays over-60s cricket after recovering from heart surgery

A 65-year-old retired army colonel has dedicated a man-of the-match cricketing performance to the heart surgeon who prolonged his playing career.

Col David James won the award after taking a prized wicket for the Norfolk Over-60s side against a Two Counties team from Essex and Suffolk.

A 65-year-old retired army colonel has dedicated a man-of-the-match cricketing performance to the heart surgeon who prolonged his playing career.

Col David James won the award after taking a prized wicket for the Norfolk Over-60s side against a Two Counties team from Essex and Suffolk.

His "military medium" bowling pace was enough to tempt John Stuck - a former Suffolk batsman and a member of England's over-60s side - into a lofted shot which was caught on the boundary at Mundford Cricket Club.

Although Norfolk lost by 50 runs, Col James said he was delighted to have been named man of the match, four years after a stent was placed in one of his heart's arteries at Papworth Hospital near Cambridge.

The operation was carried out by Norfolk cardiologist Dr Liam Hughes, who has since rowed across the Atlantic to raise funds for life-saving heart equipment to be installed at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

Col James said: "When I started having problems with my heart I went to see Dr Hughes, who is also a big cricketing fan.

"It is really thanks to him that I am still playing at all. My message to anyone else with a heart problem who thinks they have to retire is that it is not necessarily so if they find the right surgeon and the right treatment.

"I was playing again three months after surgery. Dr Hughes said: 'I think you will be OK - just don't go mad,' so I have had to shorten my run-up."

Col James earned an OBE for his service to the Royal Anglian Regiment and is chairman of the Fakenham and District branch of the Royal British Legion.

And despite playing cricket ever since his schooldays, he said it was a rare moment to dismiss a player like Stuck, who has recently returned from an international seniors' tour of Australia.

"I was absolutely ecstatic," he said. "I must have played against him about eight times in the last few years and he always gets a stack of runs. I think he has made a century on every occasion. I managed to get him caught on the boundary, which is exactly what we were planning."

Col James lives with his wife Chloe in Dunton, near Fakenham, and runs an internet trading business for collectors of stamps, coins and medals.

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