ALI Group's Survivor Series featuring Darren Lehmann
On Wednesday 3rd February, Australian cricket legend and all-round-top-bloke, Darren ‘Boof’ Lehmann joined us on the ALI’s Survivor Series webinar. Darren who is widely known for his incredible career as a two-time Cricket World Cup winner, playing alongside some of the biggest names in cricket, went on to become the Australian cricket coach where he not only revamped the team to regain the world cup title in 2015, but achieved successful ‘Ashes’ campaigns too.
In the Q&A style webinar, hosted by ALI’s very own cricket fanatic, South Australian BDM Peter Kelly, those who attended were delighted by Darren’s quick-wit and warm, genuine presence. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or just stopped by to hear what Darren had to say, it was great to learn more about the game, Darren’s career and how his life changed course on his 50th birthday when he suffered a major heart attack. An event he refers to as “his second innings”.
Notably, we learn from Darren first-hand about his experience with having adequate insurance, something he had put in place with his own broker and how having that to fall back on during a serious life event and in the face of COVID-19, made all the difference to his rehabilitation.
If you were unable to attend the webinar, we’ve covered off some of the highlights for you below.
Ten fire questions to break the ice
Right off the bat (pardon the pun), host Peter Kelly kicked off the webinar with 10 quick questions. We learnt that Darren doesn’t mind if you call him by his first name or nickname ‘Boof’ – which came about during his high school years when he sported an afro haircut and looked like a ‘boof head’. Darren’s favourite food both before his triple heart bypass and after has remained Japanese. Despite the off-field behaviours, Darren’s pick of best cricketer he’s played with was Shane Warne and the best cricketer he’s played against is Brian Lara, Darren notes he believes Brian Lara could defeat the Aussie team on his own.
When asked to choose between playing the game or coaching the game, Darren’s choice was to coach, which left some of the cricket fans pretty surprised. Darren’s favourite character in the game of cricket is Merv Hughes and if he was to pick between Steve or Mark Waugh to head out with for a day of fishing, without missing a beat he replied, “Mark Waugh, because I enjoy Junior’s company due to sharing similar personalities and both being laid back”. The funniest moment on the green was when Darren had to run a 100m sprint against Mark Richardson, whilst wearing a Cathy Freeman inspired running suit, covering him from head-to-toe. The most unusual dismissal he’s seen in the game, is anyone who handles the ball or gets called ‘run out’ for obstructing the field. And finally, answering a trick question correctly, Darren recalled his highest first class score on Adelaide Oval against Queensland as 255.
For the love of the game
In late 2007, Darren retired from playing the game after 20 years and was quoted as saying “physically and mentally, I’ve had enough”. When we asked Darren whether it was more physical or more mental, he candidly recalled “it was both. Definitely. When you’ve played 20 years of your life playing first-class cricket, you actually get to the stage where you’re probably not enjoying the game as much as you should. Something I say to the younger cricketer’s today is to remember, it is just a game”.
After taking a few months off from the game, coaching fell into Darren’s lap, which ignited his love for the game in a different way. It was in 2013 Darren was appointed as head coach of Australia, replacing Mickey Arthur.
The dark side of Darren’s coaching career
It was a tragedy that rocked not only the cricket community but Australia as a whole and it has undoubtedly become one of the saddest events in cricket Australia’s history – the death of Australian batsman Phillip Hughes, aged only 25. For those who are reading, and may not be aware, Phillip was felled by a bouncer during an Australian domestic game and even though he was wearing a helmet, the ball hit an unprotected area just below his left ear. Firstly putting him into an induced coma and then tragically claiming this young, emerging and talented cricketer’s life.
Darren discussed the nature of circumstances following the tragic loss of Phillip and why it was both one of the hardest but best coaching achievements during his time as coach.
“People ask me my best coaching achievement, and I don’t want this taken the wrong way by anyone on the call but it’s probably how we got from the death of Phillip Hughes to actually playing that test match against India. We flew to Sydney to see what was going on and to say our goodbyes. It had shaken the life out of the current group of players at that stage. As a coach, you had to rally around the best you could. We had incredible support from Cricket Australia with psychologists etc. But to go to Adelaide, and then somehow get them to play knowing that’s what Phillip would have wanted them to do and for them to win that game was one of the most amazing achievements. It was one of the toughest times in my career but also one of the proudest moments.”
Darren’s second innings
On Friday 5th February, just a couple of days after the webinar, Darren celebrated his 51st birthday. It also marked one year exactly since the anniversary of his major heart attack, which lead him to have a triple heart bypass and as a result, change the course of his life.
On the day before Darren’s 50th birthday, he was on the Gold Coast with his eldest Son, Jake. After dinner, Darren returned to his hotel where he awoke at 4.30am on the morning of his birthday to feel as though something was amiss. After the ambulance arrived and carried out further tests, they told Darren he wasn’t going anywhere and that he was in a bit of trouble. After more tests at the Gold Coast hospital, there were blockages all through his heart. 90% in one, 70% in the other and 85% in another. Two days later, he was waking up after a triple heart bypass and what was a huge wake up call.
Darren spoke in more detail about this huge life event, explaining that whilst a lot of people said it was a result of poor diet, poor physical condition, smoking and drinking and living an unhealthy lifestyle, there was another layer to it as well. Darren unfortunately lost his own father to a heart attack, meaning there were underlying hereditary conditions at play but also, stress had played a huge factor.
Focusing on the stress factor, something a lot of brokers have been faced with, particularly over the last couple of years with regulatory changes and then COVID-19 disrupting the industry, Darren gave some great advice on how to manage stress. Saying,
“I don’t have any stress anymore, I just believe what ever happens, happens. When I woke up after the triple heart bypass and had that wake-up call, I realised all that really matters in your life is your family and your close friends”.
Darren has changed his whole perspective to essentially stop sweating the small stuff and to focus only on the important things in life.
The importance of life insurance and what it meant for Darren personally
It was interesting to learn that Darren had ensured he and his family were adequately insured and never really spared another thought about it.
“For all the brokers out there, I was lucky enough to have insurance. I didn’t even think about it to be perfectly honest, then my broker rang me and told me I had insurance and we can put in a claim. I had no idea what he was talking about until he reminded me I had put it into place around 20 years ago. Now, when you think about it, when I had my heart attack, that was the start of COVID-19 as well. I was going through a heart attack, recuperation and rehabilitation which was 6 months (and still to this day I’m dealing with things like memory loss etc). But if I didn’t have that insurance, it would have made the last 12 months to 18 months really tough and for whatever lies ahead. You’re recovering from things like this for a very long time, with the mental scars as well. It made the rehabilitation of what I was going through so much easier because I didn’t have that added stress on top of everything else”.
Listening to Darren’s experience with having insurance in place was a firm reminder, no matter who you are or what you do, serious life events can happen to anyone, at anytime and having adequate cover in place is critical.
You can learn more about Darren’s heart journey and partnership with the Australian Heart Foundation,
Be sure not to miss out on ALI’s next Survivor Series – special guest will be announced in the near future.
If you had any questions or required any further information, reach out to your ALI BDM today.