Paralysed Kiwi cricket great Chris Cairns faces 'greatest challenge'

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Chris Cairns. (Photo by Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images)
Chris Cairns. (Photo by Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images)

New Zealand cricket great Chris Cairns Monday said he was "facing possibly the greatest challenge" of his life after being left paralysed following a stroke during a heart operation.

The 51-year-old, one of the world's top all-rounders in the early 2000s, underwent life-saving surgery last month when a tear developed in the lining of a major artery.

The Canberra-based former international had an emergency operation in Sydney but suffered a stroke during the procedure, leaving him unable to use his legs.

In his first comments since, Cairns shared a video message on social media in which he thanked the surgeons, doctors, nurses who "saved my life", acknowledging there was "a long road ahead".

"Just over six weeks ago, I suffered a type-A aortic dissection, which essentially means there's a tear in one of the major arteries of the heart," he said.

"I had several surgeries and grafts and very thankfully the specialists were able to save the heart itself.

"One of the complications that arose was a spinal stroke which in itself will provide me with possibly the greatest challenge I've ever faced in rehab going forward."

Cairns played 62 Tests between 1989 and 2004, averaging 29.4 with the ball and 33.53 with the bat, including 87 sixes -- a world record at the time.

However, his on-field achievements were overshadowed by match-fixing allegations, strongly denied by Cairns, that resulted in two court cases.

He was cleared on both occasions but complained his reputation had been "scorched" regardless.

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