by Gus Underwood
CO-OPERATION and common sense enabled a memorable comeback game last weekend for Kyabram Cricket Club’s 2018 English recruit Billy Cookson.
Billy would have loved to have done better with the bat but that was not what this comeback was all about.
His return was about beating tremendous odds a year on from all but losing his life when the car he was driving was slammed into a bus near Gunbower.
Meticulous planning was also needed to make Billy’s comeback the unforgettable occasion it was.
The first big surprise in this heart-warming story happened last Thursday night.
A radio station in Billy’s English home county, Wiltshire, made contact with Billy and his father, Matthew, in a three-way link-up.
Billy was totally unaware his father had flown to Australia to be a teammate in his comeback game.
Billy couldn’t believe his eyes when he arrived at the Kyabram training nets. Standing there beaming was his father. All padded up and ready to train — after a lot of hugs.
But getting his dad there was just one of the many hurdles successfully negotiated by Kyabram Cricket Club president Tim Nelson and club officials to make Billy’s comeback game the special occasion it was to turn into.
Kyabram had to get the all clear from Cricket Shepparton to allow Brenton Sheppard to play.
Sheppard is a member of Fire Brigade Cricket Club, which is affiliated with the Goulburn Murray competition and not Cricket Shepparton, of which Kyabram Cricket Club is a member.
Fire Brigade and GM Cricket were only too happy to oblige Kyabram’s request given the circumstances.
When Billy arrived in Kyabram last year and was residing at Hurley Hotel, which Sheppard runs, the pair formed an immediate respect for each other. A lifetime bond.
This respect has since been further strengthened for Sheppard — and dozens of other people — by Billy’s unwavering determination to get back playing the game he loves.
Other Cricket Shepparton clubs in Invergordon and Old Students Cricket Club also had to come to the party in the planning for Billy’s comeback game to bring it to fruition.
Invergordon had no problems in allowing Sheppard to play in the game.
Old Students also willingly agreed to transfer its clash with Kyabram’s B grade side from Saturday to Sunday.
It all came together beautifully.
And as good as it was, Billy’s comeback game is just another obstacle cleared in his rehabilitation, which still has a long way to go.
But Billy Cookson is a fighter and no-one would dare predict what lies ahead for this determined and popular young Englishman.