The Australian cricket team has welcomed a seven-year-old boy with a congenital heart disease as captain of the squad ahead of the Boxing Day Test.
Archie Schiller, seven, had his wish granted when he touched down in Melbourne on Sunday and joined the team for a day packed with media events.
The leg-spinner from Barossa Valley, northeast of Adelaide, was diagnosed with his life-threatening heart condition weeks after birth and was forced to travel to Melbourne for a seven-hour surgery.
He endured a second procedure six months later to fix the irregular rhythms of his heart and faulty valves.
Archie Schiller, seven, had his wish granted when he touched down in Melbourne on Sunday and joined the team for a day packed with media events
Sunday proved to be a busy day for the seven-year-old captain (centre), attending a media conference at Yarra Park where he posed with Indian captain Virat Kohli (right) and Paine (left)
Last Christmas, the family made the brave choice to return to Melbourne for Archie’s third open-heart procedure, which they were warned could fail.
‘When we said we don’t have to go to hospital I don’t think he still believes us, I think he still believes that we’re heading to hospital,’ Archie’s mum, Sarah Schiller told Seven News.
‘Last Christmas we didn’t think we’d get home with Archie from his surgery and now to be together just as a family, it is very very special,’ she said.
Archie will share the top job for the summer Test with wicket-keeper Tim Paine.
‘I’m going to be Captain of Australia,’ Archie said.
Sunday proved to be a busy day for the seven-year-old captain, attending a media conference at Yarra Park where he posed with Indian captain Virat Kohli and Paine for the official captain’s photo with the trophy.
Archie was diagnosed with his life-threatening heart condition weeks after birth and was forced to travel to Melbourne for a seven-hour surgery. He has had three open-heart surgeries
Archie was decked out in Cricket Australia gear and was given the privilege of donning the official Australian blazer.
Archie, who turned seven on Saturday, was granted the best birthday and Christmas wish he could have asked for through the Make-A-Wish foundation.
Last week, the budding cricket fan received a call from Australian coach Justin Langer and was welcomed into the squad.
‘I’ve got some pretty special news for you. I’ve been watching a few highlights of your cricket…I’m really pleased to tell you you’ve been picked in the squad for the Boxing Day Test!’ Langer said.
Earlier in the month Archie joined the squad for a training session at Adelaide Oval.
Archie, who turned seven on Saturday, was granted the best birthday and Christmas wish he could have asked for through the Make-A-Wish foundation
Archie will walk onto the pitch at the MCG for the coin toss of the third Test (pictured: Archie training with the squad)
But the biggest adventure is yet to come when Archie walks onto the pitch of the Melbourne Cricket Ground for the coin toss.
Captain Paine said Archie’s inclusion in the team has given the squad a bit of perspective, Cricket.com.au reported.
‘Obviously Arch has been through a really tough period and his family,’ he said.
‘Sometimes we live a life, it’s very good, but you can be consumed in your own life at times, so to have someone like that around is actually really inspiring for our group.
‘It’s great to have him around and we look forward to his debut on Boxing Day.’
Congenital heart disease is a general name for a number of abnormalities of the heart, heart valves or major blood vessels.
The disease is present at birth and symptoms can include rapid breathing, a blue tint to the skin, fatigue and poor blood circulation.
Archie said the disease means he sometimes moves slower than other kids his age and is forced to miss school from time to time.