Photo Credit: Sydney Thunder
“By presenting you with this cap, James, you become a member of our team, and that means from this moment on you are forever a part of Sydney Thunder.”
- Chris Green presenting James Reid with Cap No. 141 at Manuka Oval 19/1/23.
When fast bowler Ross Pawson received Sydney Thunder playing cap No.142 before the team’s KFC Big Bash League finals match – The Eliminator – he joined a long list of champions who have worn one: Mike Hussey, Jacques Kallis, Usman Khawaja, Andre Russell, Pat Cummins, David Warner . . . James Reid
Don’t bother looking up James Reid’s playing statistics, or Sydney Thunder player profile on the internet because you won’t find anything. His meaning to the team goes much deeper than strike rates, wickets, runs, and catches.
This loyal Thunder supporter was presented with his official cap because of the impact his battle with a rare, but terminal, form of cancer has had on the players. It was unanimously decided by the players and team management to bestow upon James the greatest honour possible to acknowledge his courage and importance to the team.
That trophy was Sydney Thunder Cap No.141.
“Being able to present James with his cap before our match against the Melbourne Renegades in Canberra was a huge honour and something I’ll never forget” said Sydney Thunder’s Chris Green, who also gave James one of his playing shirts at the emotion-charged ceremony.
“We were all aware of the battle James has fought against a rare form of cancer, and from what I understand he’s fought with incredible courage and bravery.
“It meant a lot for all of us to meet him. I have heard James has said he was ‘overwhelmed’ by meeting us and receiving his cap, but the truth is he’s left a massive impact on everyone in our team.
“We’re proud James will forever be associated with Sydney Thunder through his being Cap No.141. It is something that we all hope properly acknowledges his courage, humility, and James’s importance to Sydney Thunder as a staunch supporter.”
James, an avid skier, and brilliant mathematician who kept detailed spreadsheets of his cricketing heroes’ statistics, was 22 and studying Nuclear Physics at the Australian National University [ANU] in his hometown of Canberra when he felt an intense pain in his back.
“I was doing a quantum physics course and was diagnosed when I was halfway through my Honours year,” said James of how he learnt he had Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer which is normally found in children.
“I was getting some back pain during the exams and when I went for an MRI scan my L3 vertebrae the radiologist said it lit up like a light bulb. They knew something was there, and – I think it was the next day – my L3 fractured when I got out of bed.”
During a painstaking operation in Sydney a surgeon removed James’s vertebrae and put rods and plates in the whole of his lumber spine. He was still recovering from the trauma of that operation when he started a gruelling 15 months of unimaginable chemotherapy which gave James three years respite from the cancer.
While James continued supporting Thunder through even his toughest times, he credits the love and support of his family for providing him with the strength that was needed to keep fighting.
“I wouldn’t have got through it in a reasonable mental state if I didn’t have my family with me,” he said. “My parents have been with me throughout it all, my sister has regularly flown across from Perth, and having that support . . . so much support . . . allowed me to get through it.
“I also think my mathematics helped to because whenever I have faced a [maths] problem I have always thought: ‘OK, how do I solve it?’ I think that allowed for me, when I was diagnosed with cancer, to not go to that state of despair.”
Even though James has needed to confront some dark challenges since being acknowledged on Sydney Thunder’s honour board last month, he said there’s good reason as to why the memory of receiving his cap and being photographed with his family and friends in Thunder’s official BBL|12 photograph is important to him.
“I was overwhelmed by the sheer generosity of Thunder to do more than a simple gesture,” he said. “To have Cap No. 141 means that I’m not just a fan, which . . . in all honestly . . . is overwhelming.”