The new season of international cricket is almost upon us. It will be a summer cricketfest of 3 Mobile Tests, KFC Twenty20’s, ODIs and STDs. Sorry, what was that last one?
As we know (and wish we didn’t) Shoaib Akhtar missed this year’s World Twenty20 after treatment for die genitalen Warzen
Warts? Surely, as in the recent television ad, you just call the umpire over to apply some Wart Off.
But apparently not. For genitals, Wart Off is a no-no. So what type of wart removing procedure is serious enough to put a cricket player out of action? And how do these strutting, rutting sportsmen avoid the embarrassment of having their transmitted afflictions, some contracted extramaritally on some Trent Bridge toilet floor, from becoming news on Sunrise?
To find out I go along to the Sexual Health Centre to interview some of the doctors who have the thankless and unsavoury task of dealing with diseased nether regions.
It is situated at a discreet distance from the CBD but close enough to visit a cafe for a double shot espresso after your genital electrofulgration.
Approaching the counter timidly (there’s a sign saying: “Stand back from the counter until called”) I tell the solemn looking chap behind it that I’m here for an interview. He directs me to the waiting room.
It looks like any medical waiting room. But there is no coughing here, just a hot silence. What do people wear to a sexual health clinic? There are varied fashions but mainly casual. Smart clean looking pants belying the ungodly fermenting truth within. Trousers that can be quickly taken off and then put back on so the wearers can get the hell out of there. There are also a couple of primly dressed girls and a middle aged woman dressed to the nines in a Mediterranean outfit.
A young student couple arrive with the man off to see the triage nurse while the girl laconically writes up study notes. There are some reddish faces and greasy hair. Up on the wall there is a poster proclaiming: “Anyone can get genital herpes”. I shift uneasily in my overly warm seat.
I’m greeted by the surprisingly cheery Dr ‘No’. “Hello Andrew!”, he chortles, proffering his hand. Mine is wet and hot from nerves but what’s his excuse? As we head off I notice a blond bloke with meaty fingers texting the triage nurse on his Xun Chi 138. We enter the doctor’s office where in the corner there is an examination table with baking paper on it.
I mention the Shoaib Akhtar revelations and how embarrassing it must have been for him.
“There really is no need for anyone to be embarrassed by genital warts. It’s a sympton of the the Human Papiloma Virus (HPV) which well over half the population has”, notes Dr ‘No’.
But surely the treatments can’t be serious enough to stop him playing. “Oh yes”, said Dr ‘No’.
“Mr Akhtar had an intense dose of electrofulgration where his warts were basically electrocuted off. He needed ten days to heal and achieve skin cover before resuming playing. Running would have been very painful.” “There is also surgery”, a voice announced behind me. It was the resident dermatologist and cricket fan from India Dr ‘Yes’ who had popped his head into the room. Apparently surgery is only an option if your warts are so bad they resemble one of those multi-coloured models of a molecular structure. But with surgery, Dr ‘Yes’ warned, “you have to watch out for the bleeding!”.
The more common and less severe treatments involve freezing (ie burning) with liquid nitrogen or the application of a special cream. In these instances the warts simply drop off after a few days ( “Oh sorry I can’t make the christening. I’m waiting for my warts to drop off”) but do involve some scorching. Was this a health clinic or purgatory? With the electrocutions, the bleeding and the stench of burning papillomas it would be hard to tell.
What measures can a prominent sportsperson take to prevent their condition becoming public knowledge I wonder: “We strictly abide by doctor-patient confidentiality but of course if they want to they can use a false name.”
“Do you have any idea what percentage of clients do this?”, I ask. “About ten to fifteen per cent” . A Dr ‘Maybe’ enters the room with “Oh I’d guess a lot more!”
Not expecting an answer I ask if they have treated any cricketers who have used false names. Incredibly, Dr ‘No’ , not being a cricket fan, had got Dr ‘Yes’ to retrieve a number of files for the interview. “Yes, well when I said they could use false names they must have misunderstood because they appear to have given me their nicknames.
“Let’s see now, there is a Punter here. Oh yes I remember him, a nervous little chap, chewing his fingernails all the time. He thought he may have picked up something from the Caribbean. After I gave him the all-clear he still didn’t relax… he was mumbling something about not knowing she was Chris Gayle’s girlfriend.
“Dr ‘Maybe’ treated someone going by the name of Binga. It was syphilis,with complications. Antibiotics did the trick but he had left it a bit too long and will probably experience a weakening of his joints and have a susceptibility to side strains.
“There are two who had genital herpes….a Mr Cricket and….Pup. Mr Cricket had severe itching and hasn’t been able to keep still for the last two summers. Pup was fuming that he had waited so long to lose his virginity to a model only to get herpes.
Before leaving I ask Dr ‘Yes” if that was Warnie out in the waiting room. “Oh yes, he’s come for his free Hep B shot”
Glad to be out of there, I step out onto the street trying not to look like I’m leaving a sex health clinic (is that a CCTV?) and go for a nice strong flat white.