Teen cricketer battled cancer, won
Four centuries in four games would be a dream for any cricketer.
It is even sweeter for 19-year-old Matt Ansell. His first premier grade 100 happened exactly one year after a bone marrow transplant and a two-year battle with leukaemia.
The modest St Heliers man said his cricketing success came as a surprise.
''It was a bit out of nowhere really. I hadn't been scoring a lot of runs before that, this season.''
Ansell missed the last two summers because of his cancer and said he is just happy to be on the field again.
''You spend so long out of it seeing your mates play, it just makes you want to get back out there.''
And, he has been making the most of it.
His first century was for the Auckland University reserve team on January 26.
Ansell was moved up to the club's premier side after the victory and scored another 100 on February 2.
He kept the ball rolling the next day by getting a third century against Takapuna. And he finished unbeaten the following weekend with 169 runs.
Only one other player in the premier grade has come close, scoring three centuries this season - but not in consecutive games.
Ansell said the four successes have left him on a high.
''Just helping contribute to the win and coming back to the clubrooms with everyone in good spirits - that was such a good feeling.''
The former Saint Kentigern School student has been playing the gentleman's game since he was five years old.
''My dad's pretty fanatical about it. That's an understatement actually. He used to play and he just loves everything about it.''
Ansell was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in November 2010. He has undergone chemotherapy since then to combat the cancer, losing and regaining 12kg in the process.
He had a bone marrow transplant on February 2 last year. The transplant replaced damaged tissue from inside his bones with healthy bone marrow stem cells from a donor.
He received the stem cells from the International Bone Marrow Donor Registry because his family members were not suitable matches.
Ansell was then stuck in a hospital bed for two weeks because of the risk of infection.
He was told in November last year that he was cancer-free. Ansell said the experience has changed him.
''I like to think I'm a little bit more relaxed than I used to be. A bit more patient. You sit and wait for ages in hospitals, it's got to teach you something.''
But has it helped his cricket?
''I could say that, but to be honest it didn't until three weeks ago. I'm just enjoying playing.''
- © Fairfax NZ News
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