After attending his first-ever cricket match, James McMullen managed to take home a special souvenir.
It was the 19th over at Saxton Oval when Black Cap Mitchell Santner cracked one out of the middle down to the fine leg boundary.
It took just one bounce off the barrier before heading towards the crowd.
James saw the ball hurtling towards him but had little time to react before it caught him flush in the face.
The crowd gasped in horror as the impact saw James hit the deck immediately.
His eye blew up in front of the horrified onlookers, including his mum Sarah McMullen and stepdad Steve Hussey.
Steve says he heard the ball hit, turned around and saw it coming, but “there was no chance of getting across”.
“They thought he was a goner,” says Sarah.
Steve picked James up and took him straight to the nearby ambulance.
“He was given a checkup, ensuring there were no signs of concussion or any broken bones,” says Steve.
After getting the all clear the little trooper returned to watch the rest of the game, more upset about the fact he had dropped his muffin during the accident.
“It was chocolate,” the Nayland Primary student lamented.
The players requested to meet James and, after the game, he was invited to meet the man responsible for his black eye.
A remorseful Mitch apologised profusely and insisted it was terrible luck.
James jokingly told him, “out of 5000 people you hit me”.
As well as a great story to tell all his friends, James was given the match ball and a signed hat from the English team.
Santner scrawled on the ball – ‘Sorry mate, only one I hit out of the middle all day.”
The players told Santner he should sign James’ face too, to which Sarah replied, “he already has”.
The incident has seen James become a bit of a celebrity at school, with kids he doesn’t even know, asking what happened.
Mother Sarah says if it had to happen to someone, it could’ve been worse with someone less pragmatic.
“He’s got a pretty strong skull and just takes things in his stride.”
Despite the fame, James says it was the worst pain he has ever felt.
“It was definitely not worth it.