The Armless Cricketer

TAKE THAT: Lone has mastered the game of cricket, training for two hours every day for over a decade to enhance his technique. His toes have replaced his fingers and his legs became the arms he lost when he was 7 years of age.

The remarkable story of Aamir Hussain Lone

By Tahir Ibn Manzoor 

It is a story that has gone viral across social media outlets and captured the hearts of people all over the world. Aamir Hussain Lone, captain of Kashmir’s para-cricket team, is a true manifestation of the strength of human spirit, overcoming his own physical disability to inspire tens of thousands of people across the globe.

Lone, 25, lost his arms in an accident with a bandsaw in 1997 after his jacket was trapped in a conveyor belt. His arms were cut-off on the spot when he fiddled with the switches and blades. He was only seven-years-old.

“He lost more than five pints of blood in the accident. His maternal aunt [Mugli] rushed to give him water after seeing him in a pool of blood,” Bashir Ahmad Lone, Aamir’s father, recalls with a lump in his throat.

The local army unit came to his rescue and transported Lone in a military vehicle to their camp, where they tended to his wounds.

Lone came back to his village after three years. Though his life had changed dramatically, his family were grateful to have him alive.

“It was a miracle,” Lone’s mother tells Newsweek Middle East. It may have been miraculous but Lone had to face a lot of cruelty, mainly in the form of bullies and hurtful remarks.

“Many people told my parents that I was not worth living,” Lone tells Newsweek Middle East.

“They even told my parents to kill me as I’ll be of no use [to them]. But my parents didn’t pay any attention.”

What got Lone through the devastation was his innate love for cricket. A teacher suggested Lone join a para-cricket team and from there, he starred in various tournaments. Cricket instilled confidence and provided hope for Lone to live a fulfilling life.
“I have seen him fight through physical hardships to achieve his dreams,” Bashir says.

Lone is a skillful off-spinner and leg-spinner, who bowls with the big and little toes of his foot with different techniques that he mastered by practicing for two hours every day for the past 11 years.

“I have practiced in dozens of ways to excel in cricket. I’ve never accepted defeat and never lost hope when nothing was going my way,” Lone explains.

Perhaps his biggest supporter was his grandmother, who helped nurture his talent.

“Fazi, my grandmother, used to bowl to me in the backyard and I used to play with my foot,” Lone recalls with a smile. “She was the ultimate friend of mine, who used to spend hours with me and kept on guiding me.”

Playing cricket with no hands is a remarkable feat, and Lone has accomplished that against all odds. He is now the President of Para-Cricket Association in Jammu and Kashmir.

Lone also learned to write using his toes when he joined school. With batting, he learned a similar technique; he pressed the handle of the bat with his foot to collect it between his legs.

The right-hander holds his bat between his neck and left shoulder with the help of his chin.

When he bowls, Lone sends it down with a loopy spin like Anil Kumble, who he imitates. In the field, Lone uses his thighs to stop the ball, his lap to catch the ball and right foot to throw the ball.

“Initially, Aamir had no help or support from the government,” Zahoor Ahmad Wani, Lone’s friend, tells Newsweek Middle East.

That changed when Deputy Commissioner Anantnag Muneer Ul Islam presented him with a cheque of Rs 10,000. Muneer Ul Islam also recommended for Lone to be employed on a monthly honorarium of Rs 12,000, a sum that would help him focus on his game without having to worry much about his expenses, once it is endorsed.

For Lone, these are merely rewards. He continues to exert tremendous efforts towards his passion to be the best at what he does, and in doing so, inspires people to never give up on their dreams.

Tahir Ibn Manzoor is a freelance journalist from Kashmir.


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