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Aasif Shafi

The armless cricketer from Kashmir who knows no boundaries

Amir Hussain Lone lost his arms in an accident aged 8 [Aasif Shafi]

Date of publication: 26 October, 2018

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Photoblog: Howzat?! Amir Hussain Lone has refused to be bowled over, overcoming huge odds to pursue his dream of joining the Indian para-cricket team. Photos by Aasif Shafi.
Some stories are great examples of how people can overcome huge difficulties and achieve their dreams. That's definitely the case with this one.

Amir Hussain Lone has defied the odds after mastering the sport of cricket - despite having no arms. His unusual technique for batting involves holding the bat between his neck and shoulder, while he bowls with his toes, using a sweeping leg movement to launch the ball towards the stumps.

Amir, from Kashmir, was a victim of a freak accident that took away both arms when he was just eight years old - but that never stopped him from following his ambition. He had always wanted to become a cricketer - and now he is challenging for a place in the Indian para-cricket team.

Amir vividly recalls that fateful day at his father's sawmill in 1997. His father, Bashir, told the family not to use the saw, as he was going to be away. A family friend came over, wanting to cut some wood for a friend.

Amir's elder brother attended to the friend at the sawmill. Amir did not want to go with them, but his mother asked him to deliver food for the pair, and so he did as he was told.

amir

"I was taking food to my brother who worked there. I was playing with bunch of other kids around the sawmill, when my jacket got caught in the machine and before I could even understand what was happening the machine had sucked me in.

"One after the other, my arms got cut off - and then I got thrown into some kind of a ditch," Amir recalls.

His injuries were so severe, he spent three long years living in the hospital. His family were told he was as good as dead. His parents were advised to feed him poison to end their miseries.

But through it all, his family - particularly his grandmother - stood by Amir with unwavering support.

It cost the family their business.

"I had my own sawmill and we used to manufacture our own cricket bats," said Bashir, Amir's father. "But after the accident, I had to sell everything."

amir

"People used to talk bad about my son. They used to say I was wasting both my money and time on him, that he was of no use. But he is so dear to me - like a part of my own body. As a father why do I need wealth when my son is not well?"

Amir was finally able to return home. But at school he was bullied harshly, going through so much taunting and teasing that he wanted to give up his education altogether.

"My grandmother encouraged me to go school, I wasn't ready but she convinced me," he said.

"A teacher even told me that this school was not meant for disabled children like me," he added. Outside school, like most other Kashmiris, Amir loved cricket. He continued learning and playing the sport for two years with his friends, despite the physical challenges it posed. 

amir

Now at the age of 27, Amir is the captain of the Jammu and Kashmir state para-cricket team.

It has been a reward for all the hard work and effort he has put in and for all those who stood by him. An unusual cricketer who smashes bowlers by holding his bat between his neck and shoulders; he bowls with a karate-like swing of his body to deliver the ball grasped in the toes of his feet.

"I adopted various techniques to overcome the challenge of being armless," said Amir, a huge fan of Indian legend Sachin Tendulkar.

amir

While following his love for cricket, Amir started his battle to be independent. He learned how to use his feet to write, to bathe, to shave and even to change clothes

While following his love for cricket, Amir started his battle to be independent. He learned how to use his feet to write, to bathe, to shave and even to change clothes.

"He is not dependent on anyone. He does all his work by himself," said Amir's mother, Raja Bano. It was a miracle, she said, that, with the passage of time, he learnt the art of bathing, dressing, and even washing his own clothes, she added.

amir

Today, Amir is a shining example for all differently abled people in his area - but the journey was not a smooth one.

"My grandmother passed away but if she was alive she would have been very happy to see my cricket career. May God grant her a place in paradise," said Amir.

"She was with me until I was in my mid-teens. She was my mother, father, she was my everything. She would always say to me, 'Amir, remember what people said when you came back from the hospital, they said you'd be better off dead. My God will grant my prayer and you will become even better, even more special than any of them'."

amir

"Nobody can predict what will happen tomorrow but my hope is that I will one day become an international payer, and I am working really hard to make that happen. God-willing one day I will take my place in India's national para-cricket-team."

 
Follow Kashmiri photojournalist Aasif Shafi on Twitter: @aasifshafi786

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