A mystery lung condition has forced John Hastings, the Australia fast bowler, to take an indefinite break from cricket. He has undergone multiple tests, but doctors are yet to determine the cause of the condition, which is causing bleeding in his lungs every time he bowls.
Hastings, 32, has played one Test, 29 ODIs and 9 T20Is for Australia. He retired from Test and ODI cricket in October 2017 to focus on his T20 career, and was set to play for the Sydney Sixers in the 2018-19 edition of the Big Bash League, which begins on December 19.
"It's something that, over probably the last three or four months, has been a really difficult period for me," Hastings told the Australian radio station RSN on Friday. "It's basically every time I've been trying to gear up and get ready to bowl, I've been coughing up blood.
"What's happened is basically I won't be able to bowl this year or probably moving forward unless this sort of situation gets sorted out. It's just something that they can't say, 'look, you're not going to have a fatal bleed on the field' or it's not going to cause long-term damage.
"It's pretty shattering. I've come to terms with it now, but over the last four or five months it's been a very, very tough period. I've played this game my whole life and I wanted to keep playing it. I wanted to play tournaments all around the world. That's one of the reasons I retired early from one-day and four-day cricket."
"To see it may be slipping away, it's pretty tough to take. At this stage, unless something miraculous happens, I won't be able to bowl."
Hastings said he first experienced the symptoms several years ago, and had "little episodes maybe once a season for a year or two". In recent months, however, it has "progressively got worse".
"Every time I'm bowling now, it's happening," he said. "It's literally just bowling. It's not running. I can do boxing weight sessions, rowing, anything like that, but as soon as the pressure [of bowling] at the crease at match intensity, when I step it up, literally I burst blood vessels in my lungs and I walk back to my mark and cough up some blood.
"So it's pretty scary, but they can't tell for sure it's not going to cause long-term damage. There's a lot of grey area surrounding it. It's not a very nice thing to have happened at the moment."