Australasia

Ill cricket fan is Australia captain for a day

Around Christmas last year, seven-year-old Australian cricket super-fan Archie Schiller was lying in a hospital bed, breathing through a tube as he recovered from his third heart surgery.

But this year the seven-year-old was able to forget, just briefly, the troubles of his congenital heart disease.

On Wednesday, he strode onto the Melbourne Cricket Ground as honorary co-captain of the Australian cricket team as they took on India.

He was captain for the Boxing Day Test – his country’s biggest cricket match of the year.

Thousands of spectators watched as the little boy shook hands with the Indian captain at the coin toss, signalling the start of the match.

“He was just on top of the world to be out there with the team, I’ve never seen him smile so much,” his mother Sarah Schiller told the BBC.

For the young cricket fan, he was granted his dream “to captain Australia” by Cricket Australia and the Make-A-Wish Foundation charity.

He joined in warm-up drills prior to the match and struck up friendships with the players.

“He said he felt included in what was going on and he loves this sport so much. He sleeps now with his baggy green [cap] on – he would sleep in his team blazer if we allowed him to,” Mrs Schiller said.

“He handled the day absolutely beautifully. When he got there, he just put on his whites and said, ‘See ya Mum and Dad, I’m with my mates now'”.

Ms Schiller said the entire Australian cricket team engaged with him and “that was just a big thing for him, to have him go there and spend time with people he idolises.”

Archie was diagnosed with a heart condition at birth, and underwent open-heart surgery at three months and he has undergone 13 surgeries in total.

He has missed months of school as a result, and in his daily life, finds it hard to keep up with his schoolmates.

“He’ll try his hardest, he’ll go and go and go, but he just isn’t able to get up and run like the other kids. But he just wants to be a part of things,” Mrs Schiller said.

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She added that Archie had previously only travelled to Melbourne from his home in Adelaide for operations.

“He can’t quite believe that he doesn’t have to go to the hospital this time,” she said.

“Last Christmas, we thought we wouldn’t get back home from the hospital so to be together this year as a family, it’s just perfect.”

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