Wed | Jan 27, 2021

Health over Wealth - Fast bowler Sheldon Cottrell talks IPL and almost quitting the game

Published:Sunday | May 3, 2020 | 12:22 AMLennox Aldred - Sunday Gleaner Writer
File
West Indies’ Sheldon Cottrell celebrates the wicket of New Zealand’s Tom Latham during the Cricket World Cup match between New Zealand and West Indies at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, Saturday, June 22, 2019.
File West Indies’ Sheldon Cottrell celebrates the wicket of New Zealand’s Tom Latham during the Cricket World Cup match between New Zealand and West Indies at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, Saturday, June 22, 2019.

He is one of the most recognisable figures in world cricket at present. Fast bowler Sheldon Cottrell and his iconic wicket-taking salute have taken their place in cricket culture and he has brought along his fair share of adoring young and old fans from his homeland in Jamaica to as far as the United Kingdom, India, Pakistan and Australia.

To say that the last couple of months have been great for the left-arm quick would be an understatement, as the former Jamaica Defence Force soldier was snapped up by the Kings XI Punjab for US$1.2 million, to play in this year’s India Premier League (IPL).

Not to mention, Cottrell has been in the form of his life recently, spearheading the West Indies T20 and ODI attack, claiming 16 wickets this year across the formats, to add to his stellar 2019 when he finished with 31 wickets in One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and 14 in T20s.

All the accolades are currently on the back burner for the left-arm quick, as professional sportsmen have taken a back seat to health workers, doctors and nurses, who are now the heroes on the front line during the current coronavirus global pandemic.

For Cottrell, the IPL riches have been put on hold for now, to focus on more important matters.

HEATH BEFORE ANYTHING

“I was really gearing up to put out 110 per cent for my franchise in India but, as my famous slogan goes, ‘Health over Wealth’ any day. It’s a pandemic we are facing and it’s a worldwide thing. So I can’t be selfish. I am not going to look at the money. I have to put my health before anything else and I have to also feel sorry for those who are affected,” said Cottrell.

Things have not always been rosy for the muscular pacer who got his big break back in 2011 when he represented Jamaica before going on to play ‘A’ team cricket for the West Indies.

A good outing saw him getting his first senior West Indies call-up in 2013, where he made his debut against India in Kolkata.

The added workload then saw the dreaded injury bug beginning to creep into the fast bowler’s game during the 2014/2015 season, and the constant battle to stay fit almost ended his young career.

“Starting my career I didn’t take the time to understand my body and there was a point where I got injured every four months, doctors wanted to do surgery on my knee but I refused and decided to fight the battle on my own, I was frustrated and almost quit the game.”

Cottrell added that his military training helped him through the tough times as he was virtually left on his own. He recalled going to the gym every day to train on his own, and during those times, his determination and drive were motivated by his eldest son who was born with autism.

“Just looking at my son and seeing that he was a fighter, that made me push even more and I can tell you to this day, that helped me to overcome those obstacles.”

Fast forward to the present, Cottrell has remained humble and loyal to those that reached out to him during those testing times, and he was quick to mention former West Indies and Jamaica teammate Marlon Samuels, who he said inspired him in his comeback.

“Most people that know me know that Marlon Samuels has been my friend and one of my mentors, he was the one that gave me my break in the Caribbean Premier Leeague for the Antigua Hawksbills and then the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots, when I was overlooked, he told me ‘don’t worry I am going to pick you’ and he stuck to his word, I will never forget that.”

For now, Cottrell has been using the downtime to spend with his family. He is, however, still keeping in shape by doing a lot of running daily.

“I don’t want to be caught off guard, because we don’t know when cricket will start again. However, whenever the call is made, I will be ready.”