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‘They used the defibrillator twice’

Shane Getkate (left) has played four one-day internationals and 23 T20s for Ireland
Venue: United Arab Emirates & Oman Dates: 17 October – 14 November
Coverage: Commentary on every game on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra. Text commentary, in-play clips and video highlights from 23 October on BBC Sport website and app.

Shane Getkate isn’t sure how long his heart wasn’t beating, but he does know it was shocked twice with a defibrillator.

It was 2011 and the Ireland all-rounder was 19, trying to make his way in professional cricket, playing an under-19s game for Warwickshire against Cheshire.

“I’ve had Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome all my life, but it was never an issue until that day,” he tells BBC Sport.

“Maybe once or twice a year my heart would go a bit quick, but I’d chill out, put an ice pack on my neck for 20 or 30 minutes and my heart rate would go back down.

“On that day it was hot. I bowled my spell, sat down next to the coach and I wasn’t feeling great. I tried to do the same thing with my ice pack. The next minute I was on the deck.

“One of the mums at the game did CPR. Paramedics came in a helicopter. They used the defibrillator on me twice. I was in a coma for two days.”

Wolff-Parkinson-White is a reasonably common heart condition that Getkate, now 29, says he was diagnosed with at the age of eight or nine.

Whereas previously it had caused few issues, on this particular Wednesday at Dorridge Cricket Club it almost claimed his life.

“I’m lucky the paramedics got to me so quickly,” he says. “If they had been five or 10 minutes later, I wouldn’t be here.”

‘Doctors were 99% sure I would never play again’

When he came around two days later, at his bedside were not only his father and auntie, but also Ireland internationals William Porterfield and Boyd Rankin, who had been playing nearby for the Warwickshire second team when Getkate collapsed.

His mother was desperately trying to make her way from South Africa, where she had been attending a nursing conference.

While Getkate’s immediate thoughts were on digesting what had happened and his happiness at being alive, his mind soon turned to cricket.

“I was in one hospital for two or three weeks. I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to play again, or even run again,” he says.

“The doctors said they were 99% sure I would never play cricket again. As a 19-year-old, that was hard to take.”

However, when Getkate was moved to a different hospital, he had surgery that involved “sticking wires through my groin”.

Four weeks after he collapsed, he was out of hospital. Two weeks after that, he was playing cricket again.

“It was a miracle turnaround,” he says.

“That first warm-up, when I was running, I was absolutely bricking it. I thought I was going to go down again. It took a while to build that confidence up.

“I was so happy to be playing again and I’ve had no issues since.”

‘I would ring the paramedic on Christmas Day to say thank you’

That remarkable return was the beginning of Getkate’s journey to becoming an international cricketer and being named as a reserve in the Ireland squad for the T20 World Cup that is taking place in the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

As he spent time with the Marylebone Young Cricketers at Lord’s and played domestically in Ireland, injuries saw him morph from a fast bowler to a power-hitting medium-pacer.

All the while, he never forgot who saved his life.

“The paramedic’s name was Terry Flowers. I would ring him on Christmas Day just to say thank you for what he did,” says Getkate.

Getkate now shares an international dressing room with players who are all too aware how close he came to death.

“I’ve played with some of the lads since I was 11. To be on that journey with them is pretty special,” he says.

Getkate (pronounced how it is written – Get-Kate) was born in Durban to a South African father and Irish mother. His grandfather Robert played first-class cricket for Natal and twice turned out against the touring Australians.

The younger Getkate would watch cricket at Kingsmead, looking up to Shaun Pollock, and played rugby in South Africa, at one stage dreaming of being a Springbok.

It was only when he moved to Ireland at the age of 11 that cricket took over as he attended the same Dublin school as current England captain Eoin Morgan.

“There are six or seven cricketers who went to that school, looked up to Eoin and went on to play for Ireland,” says Getkate.

“He used to open the batting and bowling back then. He was six or seven years older than me. We got to a cup final and I was 12th man. He went down injured and I had to do his fielding for him.

“Even if I bump into him now, he asks how my heart is and how the family is.”

‘I’m lucky to be able to tell this story’

Getkate went to three Under-19 World Cups with Ireland, but full international honours took time – he only made his debut at the beginning of 2019.

Although he hit the winning runs on his one-day debut against Zimbabwe,external-link it is the T20 format where he has established himself, earning 23 caps to four in ODIs.

He is part of an Ireland side looking to make their way through the first stage of the World Cup. To do so, they need to finish in the top two of a group containing established Test side and former 50-over World Cup winners Sri Lanka, as well as Namibia and the Netherlands.

Getkate spends a lot of time coaching. Unsurprisingly, he believes defibrillators should be a “non-negotiable” at clubs of all levels. Away from cricket, he is studying for a business degree.

For now, his focus is on helping Ireland cause another shock on the global stage, to write a chapter in their history to sit alongside famous victories over England, Pakistan and West Indies.

If he does, Getkate will spare a thought for how fortunate he is to be able to play his part.

“It’s a good story to tell and I’m very lucky to be able to tell it,” he says.

“I’ll really appreciate each game. If I do play, impact and win a game for Ireland at a World Cup, I’ll know I’ve come a long way and it’s been a good journey.”

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