The Australia national cricket team will have a very special player in their squad for the first time at this year’s Boxing Day Test.
When the squad meets up ahead of the third Test against India, they will be joined by Archie Schiller, a young boy who will turn seven a few days before Christmas.
The young cricket fan received the news of his inclusion in the extended squad in a phone call from Australia coach Justin Langer himself.
Archie, from Barossa Valley, Australia, received the call from the United Arab Emirates as the national team played against Pakistan.
If that seems like a meteoric rise, it’s worth noting that there’s nothing Virat Kohli and co could throw up that’s a bigger challenge than Archie has already been through in his short life.
The cricket-mad youngster has a long-term heart condition, and has undergone 13 surgeries so far, the first of them an open-heart procedure when he was just three months old.
Archie was contacted through Make-A-Wish Australia, which offered him the opportunity to be a part of the squad.
Langer told cricket.com.au: “I reckon he’ll be treated like (uncapped opener) Marcus Harris – come in for the first time in the change-rooms, meet all the boys and like always when you come into that inner sanctum of the Baggy Green, it’s like joining the brotherhood.
“Archie will be joining the brotherhood.
“He’s been through some tough times, spent a lot of time in a hospital bed, so any way that we can help to put a smile on his face, it’s the very least we can do for him.
“Just being out on Adelaide Oval, in the sunshine, under a nice blue sky and running around with his heroes – who, to a man, were all really moved by his story – it should be terrific for everyone.”