Graham enjoys second innings
ROCKHAMPTON’S Graham Lentell will stride out to open the batting at the Sydney Cricket Ground later today as captain of the Australian Transplant Cricket Club.
The 32-year-old, who received a life-saving kidney from his sister in 2001, says he’s thrilled at the prospect of facing former Australian fast-bowler Geoff Lawson, who is expected to turn out for the Bradman Foundation in the contest.
“He’ll be a bit quicker than I’m used to,” Graham said yesterday before the flight to Sydney to meet his team-mates.
“The team is made up of players from all over the country who have received organ donations. We’re a bit of a mixed bag, but the spirit is fantastic and it’s a real honour to lead them.”
Graham, former president of the Norths team in Rockhampton, can hardly wait to take guard at the iconic SCG in a match that will salute all Australian organ donors including another Test great, David Hookes, who became a donor in 2004.
“It’s a great honour to play at the SCG and to get a taste of where Hooksey once cracked sixes for Australia,” he said.
“The boys are thrilled to celebrate their ‘second innings of life’ on any pitch, let alone at the SCG. I know I’m overly excited to be out there, I never thought it would be possible.”
He says although the match, part of the two-day Marathon Cricket Festival, is only 12 overs a side, the competition will be fierce.
“We’ve played the Bradman Foundation before and it will be a bit of a grudge match. Their team is made up of people who work at the Bradman Museum and so there’s some good A Grade players with a few star names thrown in for good measure.
“It will be my Test match.”
He’s played for the team for a number of years and toured England in 2006. But the biggest thrill was being made captain.
“I was elected by the other players and it was quite a surprise and a great honour,” he said. “It’s not many people who can say they captain Australia.”
Graham, a father of four with a fifth child on the way, is secretary of Norths and coaches youngsters as well as turning out for the lower grades when he has time. He works for Hastings Deering in Rockhampton as office supervisor.
Since receiving the kidney he says he’s been in perfect health and is living proof that transplants save lives.
Today’s match will help raise awareness of the 1770 people on Australia’s organ transplant waiting list. Last year, 247 Australians became organ donors.