Former Australia coach Darren Lehmann, who resigned following the infamous Sandpapergate saga, has reflected on two of his toughest years after experiencing near-death heart bypass surgery earlier this year.
Lehmann was rushed to a Brisbane hospital early on his 50th birthday in February after blood vessels in his heart were blocked, which led to emergency triple-bypass surgery.
Speaking to Cricket.com.au, Lehmann, currently coaching the Brisbane Heat in the BBL, admits he was fearing for his life following the abrupt complications.
‘You get to the stage where you go, “Am I gonna wake up?”‘ revealed Lehmann, who has been making a slow but solid recovery ever since.
‘You’re fearful because you just don’t know what’s going to happen in the end.’
The former Australian batsman was having a pizza-and-beer dinner with his son Jake, who also features in the BBL for the Adelaide Strikers, on the eve of his birthday before disaster struck in the middle of the night.
‘I was having cold sweats, and it felt like someone was pushing down on top of my chest. So we rang the medical officer of where I was staying and they got the ambulance straight there,’ Lehmann says.
‘Not knowing what was wrong, it’s always the not knowing [that’s hardest]; once you know, it’s OK – you start to get some answers, start to get some confidence from the surgeons and the nurses.’
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Thank you! Just wanted to give all my friends and family an update, and again to say thanks from me and my family for the continued support and messages over the past week. I came home from the hospital yesterday, a little earlier than expected. The operation was triple bypass surgery. I also wanted to thank some people who helped fix me and get me home. Firstly, all the amazing doctors, nurses and staff at the Gold Coast Private, absolute superstars for their quick diagnosis, referral and keeping me calm early on. Then I was transferred by a couple of brilliant paramedics on to the Prince Charles. What a brilliant hospital, we have some bloody great surgeons, doctors, nurses, physio’s, admin, catering, orderlies, ward volunteers, and many more carers and workers that make a hospital tick and I can’t thank everyone enough who helped me in big and small ways at the hospital. There simply isn’t enough praise I could give this dedicated team of people at the Prince Charles. A couple of big thank you’s, Peter Tesar (Head of Cardiology), who performed my surgery, best described by his piers as the Ricky Ponting of cardiac surgery, you are an amazing surgeon, and I loved having chats about both cricket and medicine. Thanks for extending my life, I’ll be forever grateful I got you and your expert team. Dr. Anil Prahbu, thanks for your part in my surgery, and your kindness to Andrea and I for always reassuring and calming us each day. I know there were lots of doctors, anaethetists and nurses in theatre, thank you all so very much. The CCU, ICU and surgical ward nurses, doctors and physio’s, thank you for helping me through the tough yards, for all the kindness and expert attention, what an amazing group you are. Thank-you! The operation went very well and now it is about recovery and rehab, so I will be taking some rest now, and then getting back to things in a couple of months. Thanks to the Brisbane Heat, Cricket Australia and Northern Super Chargers for their total support of me during this time. Finally, I am forever grateful to my family and friends for all the help getting through this and the on going support, God family is so important to everyon
His recovery and rehabilitation have provided time for a great deal of reflection on what has been quite a tough few years for Lehmann, cricket-wise and personally.
The shame and embarrassment caused by the Cape Town scandal led to his resignation before the recent health scare struck.
‘But there’s an upside to it,’ he said. ‘I’ve had a lot of learnings from it. You move forward,’ he continued.
Lehmann was appointed head coach of the Brisbane Heat last year on a two-year contract, but experienced a tough first campaign in the Big Bash League in 2019-20 by finishing second last on the log.