Jaykishan Plaha has revealed that David Warner has apologised to his mother for accidentally fracturing his skull.
The 23-year-old, from Hayes in west London, was injured bowling in the nets to the Australia batsman before their World Cup game against India on 9 June.
Plaha spent three days in hospital after the incident at The Oval, making news worldwide and receiving messages from as far away as the USA and Nepal.
“He said ‘big man, I’m sorry’,” Plaha told BBC Sport.
Plaha, a local cricketer, met up with Warner when he returned to The Oval before Australia’s match against Sri Lanka on 15 June, and was gifted a signed shirt by the Australian.
“At that point, no one knew about the fractured skull and I didn’t want to say it in front of the cameras, so I whispered it in his ear,” Plaha said.
“He spoke to my mum and apologised to her. My mum gave him blessings.”
‘I did see three David Warners’
Paceman Plaha, who plays for Osterley Cricket Club, has regularly taken part in practice sessions with international teams and has previously bowled at England, Pakistan, New Zealand, Bangladesh and Afghanistan as well as spending time with Indian Premier League side Kolkata Knight Riders.
“It was a full ball, an inswinger,” he said. “He didn’t hit it too hard, he just timed it nicely off the bat. It was a belter of a shot. I was still in my follow-though and as soon as I came up, I saw the ball right in front of me.
“I tried to get out of the way because it would have hit me on the eye or nose. It hit me on the top of the head. I went down and I all remember after that was everyone crowding around.
“I was conscious throughout, so I remember quite a lot. I did see three David Warners, but I took a few deep breaths. I saw a bit of blood on my hands, which was a bit scary, but I was trying to keep positive.
“I was stretchered off and I couldn’t feel my right side. The medical staff were really quick on that and they got me out of there really quickly. I’m really grateful for that.”
‘All of the players were calling to make sure I was OK’
At the time, Warner was described as being “shaken up” by Australia captain Aaron Finch.
Warner was on the field when Australia team-mate Phillip Hughes was fatally struck while batting in a Sheffield Shield match in 2014.
“He screamed when he hit it because he knew I was coming into line,” said Plaha. “He was quite shocked. In the moment, it was tense, but I could see he was really upset.”
Plaha was taken to St Thomas’ Hospital where he had a CT scan and the wound in his head glued.
During the bowler’s time in hospital, Australia players and staff were in constant contact, as well as representatives from the International Cricket Council.
“All of the players were messaging me,” he said. “They were calling every day to make sure I was OK.”
‘People are telling my mum that her son is famous’
Plaha was also inundated with messages from around the world.
“As soon as I got hit, news spread fast that it was me,” he said. “I was wondering: ‘How do these people know I got hit?’ My phone was always going off.
“It changes your life a little bit. You go from hardly anyone knowing your name, trying to make it in the game, then people hear this crazy news.
“It’s still sinking in. If it hadn’t happened, everything would be normal, but now if someone says ‘net bowler’ people know it was me.
“My mum walks into her local shop and they are telling her that her son is famous, but I’m thinking that I don’t want to remembered as the guy who got hit.”
‘Warner’s a really nice guy – a family man’
After his release from hospital, Plaha met members of the Australia squad the day before the Sri Lanka game, then spoke to Warner the following morning.
And he paints a different picture of the man who has been booed by English crowds for his part in the ball-tampering scandal that resulted in a one-year ban.
“He’s had his ups and downs, but when you get to know someone, it’s a different thing,” said Plaha.
“He’s a really nice guy, a family man. He’s really bubbly and positive. He went out of his way to see me. I think it might have made him smile a bit more, because the World Cup has been a little tense for him.”
‘The chances of being hit are slim, but there is that danger’
Australia have asked Plaha to stay in contact throughout the World Cup and he will be in attendance for their game against England at Lord’s on Tuesday.
He has been ordered to rest from cricket for six weeks and said that, when he returns, he would consider wearing some sort of protection while bowling if the right equipment can be manufactured.
In July 2018, Nottinghamshire’s Luke Fletcher was hit while bowling in a Twenty20 game against Birmingham Bears and said he was “lucky” to escape a serious injury.
In May, the England and Wales Cricket Board and the Marylebone Cricket Club announced the winners of a design competition for bowlers’ headwear, with a potential product now set to be developed.
“If something can be made, I would think about it,” said Plaha. “If they could make something very lightweight, a bit like what the goalkeeper Petr Cech wears.
“Fast bowlers don’t like weight on us, we want to be nice and loose. The chances of getting hit are slim, but there is that danger.”