A bright career curtailed by injuries

It is quite difficult to recognise Brett Schultz at first glance. The untamed golden locks of the early 90s are missing, and the athletic body of a fast bowler has moved away for a rather hefty frame of an insurance agent.  

       
As Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel were peppering the Indian top-order with short-pitched balls, Schultz watched the sight with a hint of nostalgia in his eyes. “I was fast, I mean seriously fast. Even in the younger days, in my school, I had this nasty image for rattling the batsman with pace and they used to call me Bear for my attitude on the field. It gave me more energy, sort of kick to try and bowl faster,” said Schultz, who now works as a Director of Insurance at Econorisk.

The reputation of being an outright fast bowler with an attitude to match soon caught the attention of the South African selectors, and decided to give him a break in that historic series against India in 1992. “There was a talk of me getting into the South African team before that series, and finally when that call came I was excited. I have heard a lot about Allan (Donald), and how quick he used to bowl. I was quite excited to bowl along with him, and in fact I shared the new ball with him. He was class apart as a bowler, and someone who knew when to bowl within himself or go all out,” said the left-arm pacer.

“I was a bit different as I wanted to bowl all the deliveries at blinding pace. I didn’t get too many wickets in that series and was replaced after the third Test. But I did get Tendulkar out once in Port Elizabeth, caught behind I think, and it was good to get the wicket of someone, who everyone spoke about as a great talent. Indeed, a special player he was – lot of time to play his shots and he wasn’t rattled by our pace as well,” he added.

Schultz’s best series came soon against Sri Lanka away from home. He took 20 wickets from three Tests at an average little over 16, and he bowled with sustained pace and venom. “The Lankan wickets were slow, but my pace through the air more than compensated for it, and of course there was that left-hander’s angle (across the batsman) as well. It was a good series to be in, and things were looking up for me,” said Schultz.

But a knee injury soon surfaced, and he had to undergo several operations, limiting his Test appearances to just four matches in the next four seasons before officially retiring in 1997. “It was disappointing to sit out due to injury in my prime years. But soon I made peace with the fact that my cricketing career is not meant to last long. The tool my knees has taken was too heavy after a series of surgeries. Then I decided to pursue a career in the world of finance, and it has came off well,” said Schultz.

He did make a comeback effort in 1999, but in vain and drifted away from the cricketing scenes forever with that ‘what if’ tag around him.

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