Adam Gilchrist may be shepherding his IPL team from defeat to defeat, taking more hammerings than anyone had expected when the tournament began. But on Thursday in Delhi, he proved that he has not lost his sense of perspective or humanity. The Ferozeshah Kotla may have been packed with vocal and loyal Delhi supporters, but one man, in his own special way, was right behind the Hyderabad team.
Perry Cross was playing rugby for a Queensland state representative team in 1994 when a rough tackle broke his neck and left him a quadriplegic on life-support.
Fighting for his life in hospital, on a ventilator, Cross took a decision to fight, and never give up. Since then, he has gradually reclaimed his life, becoming the first quadriplegic on life support to travel on a private airline, and in two years becoming a motivational speaker renowned for his storytelling.
On Thursday, even amidst beefed up security at the Kotla, following the serial explosions in Jaipur, Cross made it to the ground, and sat in his customised wheelchair beside his team’s dugout. A special invitee of Gilchrist, Cross was first stopped at the main gate for not having a valid pass.
Gilchrist who had passes for Cross with him, then telephoned officials at the ground, more than once, till Cross was allowed in. Delhi police even wanted Cross to enter without his wheelchair, but when the seriousness of the situation was explained they relented and let him in. Once in, though, he had among the best seats in the house, right beside the Hyderabad dugout.
Cross, who has in the past shared his life’s story in varied forums from the Australian Defence Forces to the Australian Cricket Team, had long since won over Gilchrist. "It was in July 2004 that Perry was kind enough to share his brave story with the Australian cricket team," wrote Gilchrist in a testimonial to Cross. "I can talk on behalf of my teammates when I say what a remarkable young man he is, and that his positive outlook on life is really an example to us all. Perry’s principles of knowledge, courage and faith havehelped him through his challenges. He is truly inspirational."