x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Former UAE cricketer Gayan Silva facing up to his biggest challenge

Doctors discovered a clot in his head in January, with the Sri Lankan native admitting he may have to live with the problem for the rest of his life.

Sri Lankan Gayan Silva has been a coach at the MCC-Zayed Cricket Academy in Abu Dhabi since 2011. Courtesy Shadeep Silva
Sri Lankan Gayan Silva has been a coach at the MCC-Zayed Cricket Academy in Abu Dhabi since 2011. Courtesy Shadeep Silva

Gayan Silva confronted and conquered many obstacles during his playing days. Yet, it is one from off the field that has felled him.

The former UAE wicketkeeper-batsman has been diagnosed with a clot in his head and has been under heavy medication since it was detected at the end of January.

"I had bouts of headaches but treated them as a normal ailment," he said.

"The last time I got one it was unbearable. I knew something was wrong. I was at work at that time and with the help of a colleague I rushed to the New Medical Centre Hospital. While getting out of the car, I felt my head spinning and my legs buckled."

Silva was hurried to intensive care, where he spent two weeks before being transferred to another ward.

"It was the most terrifying experience of my life," he said. "My thoughts then and now are with my family.

"Everyone around me, including those who are treating me medically, has tried to console me of the worries, but it doesn't matter how hard they try, I just can't get over it. Perhaps, I have to live with it for the rest of my life."

Silva is thankful for the treatment he has received from his employer for the last 11 years, Dr BR Shetty, a former president of the Abu Dhabi Cricket Council and the vice chairman of the New Medical Centre Group.

"He has been very supportive by taking care of my well-being and the medication," Silva, who works as a store assistant at NMC Trading, said.

"My supervisors have told me to take it easy on my work. I have been loyal to them and they have, in return, shown a lot of kindness to me at this time of difficulty."

Silva was interviewed for the job in Colombo in 2002 along with five other cricketers, including the left-arm spinner Shadeep Silva, who still plays for the UAE.

"It was a good opening for me at that time, the opportunity to play cricket and work abroad," he said.

"For the first time in my working and playing career, my lifestyle began to improve."

He got married in 2006 and his wife, Sajeewani, joined him in the Emirates a year later. His two sons - Yanula, four, and Gesandu, seven months - were born in Abu Dhabi.

In cricket, Silva made a bright start on his UAE debut, scoring 66 and 87 in the drawn four-day match against Scotland in the ICC Intercontinental Cup in Sharjah, in January 2007.

He was a regular member of the UAE team for over 18 months and toured the United Kingdom, Canada, South Africa, Namibia, Malaysia, and Singapore, before he quit the game completely last year to concentrate on coaching.

Silva has an Asian Cricket Council Level 1 certificate and has been a coach at the MCC-Zayed Cricket Academy since 2011.

"I always wanted to be involved in the game and enjoyed coaching," he said.

"I was looking ahead for the weekends [in the same way] as I would be looking forward for the games during my playing days. By God's grace, I feel better. I am not certain though where destiny would lead me to."



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