“IT WAS the best decision I ever made.”

Those are the words of a Hampshire cricketer who opted to have a leg amputated in a bid to end the excruciating pain that was ruining his life.

Rob Franks, head coach at Ellingham Cricket Club in the New Forest, has already returned to the wicket.

Rob, who had the operation at the Spire Hospital in Southampton in March, said: “Things have progressed rapidly. I’m actually back playing cricket and loving life again.

“I should still be learning to walk but I’ve played six games of cricket this year. My recovery has been nothing short of remarkable.”

Ten weeks after the operation a pain-free Rob received his artificial leg and was also made captain of the Middlesex Disability Development Team.

He said: “Being back playing cricket means everything to me. After an awful few years I’ve bounced back and I’m now doing the two sports I love - cricket and wheelchair rugby.”

As reported in the Daily Echo, Rob was injured playing cricket in 2011 and was found to have an aggressive tumour in his left knee.

The former chef had an operation but a routine check-up two years later showed the growth had returned and was even bigger than before.

A second operation left Rob with nerve damage, forcing him to use crutches and a wheelchair to get around.

In 2014 he joined a cricket club for people with disabilities but suffered a broken leg during only his second game for the side.

In a four-hour operation surgeons managed to repair the break with pins, plates and a metal rod but Rob left in constant agony and had to take some of the strongest painkillers available.

Friends dug deep to fund the £15,000 operation after the NHS refused to pay for the life-changing surgery.

Rob, 39, of Poole, said: “It’s been a challenge and not always plain sailing, but with the support of my wife Carla and my two children, Harry and Oliver, we made it and now the only way is up.

“I became manager of Harry’s U9 team, which won the U9 Cup and also finished runners-up in the U9 League.

“Five years ago I was due to play wheelchair rugby for the Dorset Destroyers but wasn’t able to bend my knee to get into the chair.

“Following my amputation I’m playing for them and have been put in the team for the national final play-offs at Stoke Mandeville Stadium next month.