Zimbabwe’s Sikandar Raza out for an indefinite period after bone marrow infection
Allrounder feared he had cancer until tests came back negative, but his recovery is still expected to take several weeks
Sikandar Raza will be out of action for an indefinite period after suffering an infection on his bone marrow, which was suspected to be cancerous at one stage. Following surgery on April 2 to remove the tumour, he has been cleared of serious illness but the recovery period is expected to take several weeks.
Raza, who is at home going through cycles of medication and injections, said that he first felt a lot of pain in his right arm during the Zimbabwe-Afghanistan series in Abu Dhabi last month. He played both Tests and the three T20Is, which ended on March 20.
Returning to Harare, he saw a specialist and tests revealed something more serious than just regular muscle pain.
“I had pain in my right arm during the Abu Dhabi Tests,” Raza told ESPNcricinfo. “We treated like it was muscular pain initially but the pain kept getting worse. I remember staying up all night, unable to sleep despite having sleeping pills. That’s how I played the Test matches.
“After coming home, the ultrasound showed that the muscles are all fine. The MRI showed that I had a foreign or alien substance on my bone marrow. Seeing this the surgeon told me that this substance could make my shoulder bone so weak that I could fracture it by just throwing a ball. He suggested that I do a biopsy right away. I wanted to wait till the Pakistan series but he insisted otherwise. He said that due to the deformity seen in my bicep bone, they were suspecting cancer.”
Raza opted for surgery almost immediately, and only on Tuesday evening found out that it was an infection. “I went under the knife within the next 48 hours. They opened up my bicep by drilling the bone. They created a hole to take out some puss and red substance.
“All of this was sent it for a biopsy, and it came back as negative. There was a type of infection but only last night the bone biopsy report ruled out the cancer,” he said.
Raza said that his recovery would take a long time. He will definitely miss the ongoing Pakistan series. “I have been ruled out indefinitely. There’s no set date for my return. Of course this not being cancerous has suddenly fast-tracked some of it.
“After the lab professor studies my MRI, I will apparently be on medication and jab for the next six months. We want to treat it aggressively so that I don’t get the infection again. I am very sure that I have three to five more weeks of doing nothing, if everything goes smoothly.
Raza was thankful to the Zimbabwe Cricket officials including chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani and managing director Givemore Makoni, as well as the team physio Trevor Wambe who took special care of him. Raza also spoke to Dr Sohail Saleem from the PCB and Afghanistan physio Azeem Malik.
“Allah was very kind. He gave me a lot of strength but people like our physio Trevor Wambe helped me through this. He was by my side in Abu Dhabi, giving me a lot of time. When we got back to Zimbabwe, he ran around with me with the scans and tests.
“When ZC found out what the doctors suggesting seeing my MRI, Givemore Makoni, the MD, and chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani got very worried. They were very supportive, even contacting other boards and telling me that they would send me anywhere else for better treatment.
“My family, friends and team-mates were also very supportive. Alhamdullilah when the report came last night, it put me and my family at ease. There were tears of joy in my family,” he said.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84