The humiliating 5-0 defeat in the latest Ashes Tour has been nothing but bad news for the entire England cricket team, but two of the players, Matt Prior and Stuart Broad, redeemed themselves this week. They were at Sydney’s Darling Harbour after a night out when they saw a man about to jump off a bridge. The pair managed to talk him down and then stayed with him for an hour before the police arrived. There is no doubt the two members of the England cricket team saved this man’s life. In a wry twist to the story, although the man was from the UK, he apparently did not recognize the players.
The man, who is British, believed to be from Cheltenham; had already thrown his phone, wallet and passport into the water, and was preparing to end his own life. The Pyrmont Bridge was his intended final departure point. As it turned out, Broad and Prior were crossing the bridge at that exact moment, and they led him from the edge. “We just did what anybody would do in that situation” Matt Prior said to the Daily Telegraph.
The incident occurred in the small hours on Wednesday. The all-rounder and the dropped wicket keeper had been at an event to raise money for motor neurone disease, organized by the Barmy Army (the fan club for English cricket followers) for the Broad Appeal, a charity set up in Stuart’s name. “I look back,” Prior says, “and I’m just glad we left the bar when we did.” As it turned out, it was a classic case of being in the right place and “we were there for him.” At first sight, they had assumed the man’s position was perhaps due to him acting on a dare or larking about. They then re-assessed the situation and realized he was serious in his suicide attempt.
English cricket’s security guard, Terry Minish, was also with Broad and Prior and he joined in with the effort to talk the man down. He said that “It all happened very quickly and we acted on impulse.” The man was saying that he wished to drown himself. Minish said it was Matt who helped to pull him away from the bridge’s ledge and then they all sat by him in the hour before authorities got to the scene. Between them, they had wrestled him down to the floor of the bridge under the railing. This would definitely had been no easy feat and was certainly dangerous. The Pyrmont Bridge is a swing bridge which used to carry the now defunct monorail. It is now used for pedestrian traffic and at 45 feet to the harbour below, has a drop which has led to it being used as a suicide spot before.
Prior added, “We were trying to help a bloke who was struggling and in a bad way.” Two subjects the English cricketers had become all too familiar with over their recent weeks Down Under where they have performed abysmally.
Broad, who is staying on in Australia for the three Twenty20 games, wrote on Twitter about his admiration for the way Prior handled it. “MattPrior 13 is a best friend of mine and I’m very proud of him. It was a tough situation but so glad he was there.”
Detective Inspector Sean Heaney of Sydney City Police confirmed that they had taken a call moments before 1am on Wednesday morning with the report of a man who was on the edge of the railings of the Pyrmont Bridge, holding onto a flagpole as his only means of support. He was perilously close to making that fatal final leap. The callers were Stuart Broad and Matt Prior. That said, the officers who went on to attend the scene did not know who the “rescuers” were. They had witnessed the man throw items into the water, said Heaney, and heard him make remarks which led them to have extreme concern for his safety. This led them to coach the man down, which involved both physical and emotional tactics. Heaney also said that the man had been assessed by a paramedical team before he was taken from the Pyrmont Bridge to the nearest hospital.
In a short statement, Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club said both the players were known as characters who were both level-headed and very calm, so it was unsurprising that they took the appropriate action given the situation. The spokesman added that they would may never know the longer-term impact of their actions but they could be proud of their intervention and for the fact that they then waited for the relevant help to get there.
The team were staying in the Paragon Hotel at Circular Quay but their end of tour party had been held at the Bungalow 8 in Darling Harbour.
The 5-0 Ashes loss, coming so hard on the heels on the triumphant 3-0 win on British soil, has been a devastating blow to English cricket. In saving a man’s life as he was about to jump from the Pyrmont Bridge, at least two of the England cricket team have done something to make their country proud of them again by playing, not cricket, but Good Samaritans.
Matt Prior may be leaving Australia now but he can hold his head high that he has represented England cricket at all altogether different level – not as a sporting hero but as a decent, concerned and caring citizen.
By Kate Henderson