Lewis James Hatchett
January 21, 1990, Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex
Left hand Bat
Left arm Medium fast
Lewis Hatchett achieved one of the most gloriously defiant careers in the history of county cricket before he announced his retirement, at 26, on medical advice in 2016. Hatchett was born with Poland Syndrome, a condition which appears in only one in 100,000 births, and leads to problems down one side of the body. For Hatchett it meant he was missing his right pectoral muscle and two ribs, which meant that his chest was visibly sunken on that part of his body. Technically, as a fast-medium left-arm bowler, it led to a weak delivery arm and a right shoulder that sat higher than his left. His right shoulder muscles overcompensated for the missing pectoral, causing these muscles to be over-used and they become fatigued quickly, resulting in aches, burning sensations and headaches daily along with his right chest offering little protection to his right lung.
Although he was advised as a youngster not to play contact sports, Hatchett's determination helped him to overcome his condition. He spent six years as a professional with Sussex, taking 102 wickets in 53 first-team matches in all competitions, and batting in a bullet-proof vest to minimise the physical damage should he ever take a blow in the chest from a fast bowler. When he retired, it was because of a lower-back injury, but it was his management of his daily issues that brought so much respect.
Sussex have never been short of locally-produced players and Hatchett was about as local as they got, born about three miles away from Hove in Shoreham-on-Sea. He learned his cricket at St James's Montefiore, a club in Ditchling, before moving to East Grinstead. He made his Sussex Second XI debut in 2009 before a first-team debut the following season. In his second Championship match, against Leicestershire, he took 5 for 47. "He's an exciting prospect - a left-armer who swings the ball - and he's destined for a long and successful career," said coach Mark Davis when he was signed.
When it all came to an end, he took to helping his brother Bradley in a business networking business, worked as a personal trainer - a course he took with the help of PCA funding while he was playing. He had not always been comfortable talking about his condition as a young professional, fearing that it would be used against him, and not wanting to make excuses, but he also turned to motivational speaking - and he had an impressive story to tell.
Batting & Fielding