Brett Schultz finds his line and length

16 January 2011 - 00:51 By LIAM DEL CARME

"They call me 'Flat-out' Schultz, not 'Brakes' Bezuidenhout."

Few players can so neatly encapsulate their careers as Brett Schultz but then few are as self-deprecating as the barrel-chested former left-arm quick.

Schultz's life has been as hurly-burly as his approach to the crease but reaching 40, as he did last year, brought a fresh appreciation for some "line and length".

Injury he admits, wrecked his career and although almost 14 years have passed since he quit Test cricket, closure still eludes him.

"The truth is I'm still making peace with it. But life goes on," said Schultz with the trademark grin that's as wide as the Grand Canyon.

A torn biceps forced him from the field in his final Test but it was an injury to his right knee that ended his career at 27.

"The doctors warned that I wouldn't be able to walk, let alone play," he recalls. "I was forced into retirement. It wasn't a decision I had to make."

The injury ground to a halt a burgeoning career that yielded 37 wickets in nine Tests. Those wickets arrived at an impressive 20.24, but it is also worth noting that 20 were taken on unresponsive Sri Lankan wickets.

"I had a great start but I never fulfilled my potential," he says.

Nonetheless, an office festooned with memorabilia reflects pride in his achievements.

If Schultz's body went through the wars in his playing days, retirement has hardly brought a cease fire.

"I shattered my right elbow five years ago. During one of the structural repair operations I picked up a serious hospital infection.

"You can actually die from it. I've had 13 operations to get rid of it if. I had to sign a document giving the surgeons permission to amputate the arm if things deteriorated during surgery.

"The patience of my orthopaedic surgeon has paid off. They have now removed the joint from my elbow and have fused the joint."

The result is Schultz can't bend his right arm.

"In the last 18 years I've had 21 operations. Just as I get better, things will get worse. It really has been tough. But I've still got my arm and I still have a smile."

That facial expression grows more pronounced when he talks about his four-year-old daughter Skye.

Her arrival in 2006 ushered in a lifestyle change.

"I'm not married but she's an important part of my life. She's made me grow up. I was still living the lifestyle of a cricketer, without actually playing cricket, when she arrived.

"For a single dad I have got a very close relationship with my daughter."

After a stint as owner of drinking hole All Bar None, Schultz is now a short-term insurance guru at Econorisk.

"I need structure around me," he says of his decision, almost a decade ago, to pursue a career in the insurance industry.

And he remains optimistic about his health.

"We finally have the infection under control and I have to build my immune system.

"As you get older your aspirations become more balanced. I'm 40 but sometimes it feels more like 59. I need to get back my health. That is my number one priority."

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