Australia news April 3, 2012

Casson tells of heart trauma

Beau Casson, the former Australia spin bowler, has spoken for the first time about the heart condition relapse that forced his retirement from cricket.

Honoured by New South Wales at the Steve Waugh Medal presentation in Sydney last month, Casson told ESPNcricinfo of his traumatic exit from the game after he was forced from the field during a Sheffield Shield match against South Australia at Adelaide Oval in October 2011.

That day Casson had felt distressed on the field and fared little better in the dressing room, before being taken to hospital by the Blues chairman of selectors David Freedman. There were echoes in the case of the footballer Fabrice Muamba, who suffered a cardiac arrest during an FA Cup tie between Bolton and Tottenham and has since fought an almighty battle for his life in hospital.

Casson now works as an ambassador for Heart Kids NSW, intent on keeping both sporting participants and their coaches and support staff aware of the many complex permutations surrounding the heart. While not wanting to speak much of the Muamba incident, he said its public nature had provided a reminder of how delicate life can be.

"What happened [to Muamba] was absolutely terrible, but it makes people realise you're not invincible," Casson said. "When it first happened [to Casson in Adelaide] it was incredibly frightening, quite a traumatic event. Personally I found it really hard because naturally I hadn't played my part in the game and the boys were one down, so that's what I struggled a fair bit with.

"It wasn't an ideal time and I'm incredibly happy with the way I've got through it. It was incredibly frustrating, frightening, things were pretty chaotic around that sort of event, but New South Wales I much appreciate their support through it all, and for them to make sure I looked after myself. It wasn't easy that's for sure."

Casson has managed the condition, which makes it difficult for him to lower his heart-rate after it has risen, since his teens. He battled back from a collapse during a Sydney grade game in the 2010-11 season to earn a recall to the Blues' team last summer, however the Adelaide episode forced the closure of his playing days at the age of 29.

"It's always been a challenge for me through my whole career with a congenital heart condition. It's always something I've been incredibly diligent about," Casson said. "I had an episode early last season in club cricket, which once again was incredibly frightening and we sorted out what needed to be.

"But it's an incredibly complex issue and hence the reason why things have happened the way they have. I don't think anyone could foresee the way things would happen. There's obviously been a fair bit written of late in the media about certain people in other sports, and it's just the nature of the condition."

Following his forced absence from the remainder of the Adelaide match, Casson flew home to Sydney where he underwent further tests and spoke with medical experts including his long-time heart specialist. Their decision was for Casson to retire, ending a career that had once shone brightly enough to merit a baggy green cap in 2008.

"I left it to the people a lot brighter than me," Casson said. "I had a series of tests and I was waiting to see what they came back with, and that was that. When you get told both sides of the story when an event like that happens, you have to weigh up exactly where you're at. Their advice was the best thing for me was to stop playing and that's the way it happened."

Studying teaching and also doing some coaching in addition to his ambassadorial role, Casson said the whole experience had given him valuable perspective on life as well as cricket, and he valued its lessons even as he came to terms with the sudden end to his days as a cricketer.

"It was only the other day I was talking to a few younger cricketers about what this great game offers and you learn so much about yourself," he said. "You might have some setbacks in cricket, that you can take out into your university degree or whatever it is, employment.

"You learn a hell of a lot about yourself and how to deal with certain situations, and I've had a few situations I've been able to deal with and it's given me a lot of insight and strength for the future to be even tempered and be able to take the good day with the bad days. Like any cricketer, that's probably the most challenging aspect of the game."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • disco on April 4, 2012, 11:55 GMT

    It always rings a bit hollow for me when celebrities suddenly 'realise' how precious life is, as if their near death experience makes them an authority. Beau, I doubt that life is any more precious now than before for you because all life is good for is to appreciate this fantastical manifestation we are born into. Like the droplets of water from a crashing wave, we glint for a moment then dissolve back into the ocean.

    Everything is amazing Beau, do you know what's going on at the LHC, do you care? There's more to life than breeding, I mean if that's all there was we may as well be born an ordinary animal. We are the only animals who can contemplate this impossible creation and we've work it out back to about a millionth of a second from the instant of creation which is pretty impressive for the inhabitants of this miniscule speck on the boondocks of one of about about 100 billion galaxies.

    Animals enjoy this creation but we can understand it. Why else do we exist?

  • Bryn on April 4, 2012, 9:42 GMT

    shahid6995 -- absolutely. well said.

  • Harry on April 3, 2012, 23:09 GMT

    Good luck withb your future Beau. You fully did deserve that cap after a massive season.

  • Dummy4 on April 3, 2012, 21:46 GMT

    His condition was Tetralogy of Fallot.

  • Nagesh on April 3, 2012, 20:33 GMT

    Good luck and long life to Mr Casson. I am sure i=the heart specialist wquld have advised him the right path and monitoring his condition well. If it was SVT as suggested, I am this can be cured well with Catheter Ablation (CA) once and for all. I am not a doctor but hail form a doctors family and my mum goes through it almost once a month...for the past few years but scared to go for CA therapy...yes it's frightening when the heart rate jumps close to 200. Good luck and God Bless.

  • S on April 3, 2012, 14:12 GMT

    I agree. Certainly without actually having anymore information than the snippets in this article its not appropriate to say but it sounds like something along the lines of a supraventricular tachycardia or something like that. Very different from what seems to have happened to Muamba. BUT, think about the lay-person, a heart condition is a heart condition is still a heart condition, and it would freak anyone out. People in the medical field can say Casson's condition is not a big deal all things considered, but when its happening to you, its not a bloody joke. Best of luck to you Mr Casson.

  • Bryn on April 3, 2012, 6:24 GMT

    im pretty sure muamba's condition is very different to casson's. muamba's i think is a thickening of the heart.

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