Home TeamsSouth Africa Mondli Khumalo cleared to play, will rejoin club in UK less than a year after assault

Mondli Khumalo cleared to play, will rejoin club in UK less than a year after assault

Mondli Khumalo will travel to the UK on Friday to rejoin North Petherton Cricket Club in Somerset less than a year after an assault in which he suffered bleeding in the brain.

The attack left Khumalo, a former South Africa Under-19 bowler, with his cricket career hanging by a thread. But he has now been cleared to play by a neurosurgeon and is hopeful of regular game time to secure a deal in South Africa for next season.

He is no longer on the books of Kwa-Zulu Natal Inland, the provincial team based in Pietermaritzburg who were promoted to Division One for the 2023-24 season. “Getting game time under his belt in the UK is an important part of his preparation for the next SA summer,” Rob Humphries, Khumalo’s agent, told ESPNcricinfo. “He is buzzing to get back on the field.”

Khumalo has been out of action since last May, when he was attacked while celebrating a team win outside a pub in Bristol. He was unconscious at the scene and received emergency medical treatment which required him to be put into an induced coma for four days. Khumalo’s brain injuries were serious enough to require four operations, three to relieve pressure on the brain and a final one to replace the piece of skull that had been removed to help with other procedures, and remained in the UK until November last year. A crowdfunding campaign was launched to assist with costs, including getting flights for his mother and uncle to travel from South Africa to be at his side.

Throughout his time in recovery, Khumalo remained committed to making a comeback to the game. Ten days after being hospitalised, Khumalo was able to stand unaided and his club team-mate Lloyd Irish shared a video of Khumalo catching a sponge ball. On his return to South Africa, Khumalo was a regular attendee at Kwa-Zulu Natal Inland games. In February then, he suffered a seizure that threatened to set back his return, but he recovered quickly.

Kwa-Zulu Natal Inland released their squad for the upcoming summer earlier this week and it includes the acquisition of left-arm seamer Mbulelo Buadaza from the Knights, who were relegated, and Thando Ntini from the Dolphins, which has left no room for Khumalo at this stage. ESPNcricinfo understands that if no opportunities arise in South Africa for the season ahead, Khumalo could look at playing club cricket in Australia, where several clubs have expressed interest in him after hearing his story.

A 27-year-old man was arrested in connection with Khumalo’s assault and will go on trial in October.

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