Working my way back
Posted in Domestic Cricket
I've been playing second-team cricket over the last few weeks and it has been good just to get back on the field after my injuries last year.
We've had a few fixtures, friendlies in the freezing cold north. It's been pretty grim at times, but this week we've been down in Billericay playing against a combined Essex and Kent second team.
We played Yorkshire at Hartlepool last week in a three-day friendly and the wind was bowling a gale. I was quite lucky because all game I bowled with the wind.
It's safe to say I put on at least two yards in pace, but my housemate Ruel Brathwaite wasn't too happy because he was bowling into gale-force winds all game!
I broke into the first team at Durham last year but ended up suffering a stress fracture high on my right shin, just underneath my knee. I also had stress reactions all over both shins, which caused me to literally go from opening the bowling at first-class level to being on the sofa watching Jeremy Kyle the next week!
Over the winter I've trained every day, but before Christmas I couldn't bear weight on my legs so I was swimming for two to three hours a day, doing a lot of yoga and stretching. Basically I was trying to get my core level of fitness up to prepare for when I could start running and doing weights again after Christmas.
Then I started really building it up and doing a lot of weights, a lot of power stuff, and I got in contact with an athletics and strength & conditioning coach, a guy called Matt Wood.
I did one-to-one running once a week with him, working on my technique to make sure my legs were being as efficient as they could when running, to eliminate anything that could cause stress on my shins this season.
The work I did with him was unbelievable. I think I was as quick as anyone on the staff over 30 metres at the start of the season, so my sprinting has got a lot better.
When I was injured, I was a bit worried about what my position would be at Durham and I spoke to Graham Onions. He obviously had a horrible back injury and he just said 'as long as you do everything you can and leave no door unopened, then you can have pride and if it does go wrong, you can say 'I couldn't have done much more''.
Our bowlers have bowled well so far this season, so it will be hard for me to break into the first team.
Even if you look at the guys who are not playing at the moment, the likes of Mark Wood, Mitchell Claydon and Ruel - we've got a serious standard of bowlers.
For me personally, I've bowled 30 overs in three days down here and had no pain, which is a massive leap forward. I didn't think I would be here last year. So I'm just concentrating on being fit, being consistent and biding my time really.
I've got no rush to be back in first-team cricket. Obviously I would love to, but being realistic I need to bowl many overs to get up to the standard these blokes are bowling at.
I've been at Durham now since I was 15 and every season I've been here we've had an unbelievable standard of seam bowlers on the staff. It's great to be a part of because you've got the likes of Graham, Steve Harmison, Callum Thorp. You know you can ring them or talk to them in the changing rooms and get advice.
Even their day-to-day habits, watching them train and how they go about their career, it's good for a fast bowler.
You've just got to be patient and know that you might not play as much first-team cricket as you would at other counties. You realise that when you do play regular first-team cricket you'll be a better bowler for having been around these blokes.
I'd be over the moon if I did get the opportunity again. It's what I've been working for since near enough this time last year when I started getting problems. But there's no rush - I'll bowl for the firsts, seconds, whoever needs me really.
I'm just doing what I can on and off the pitch and doing all I can so that when I do get an opportunity I'll be in the best place to take it.
Back to Billericay, and here's one last tale for you.
Gordon Muchall has got two young boys and this is the first time he's had time away from his young 'uns in a while.
He would be over the moon to have a decent night's sleep, but waking up at 12 o'clock thinking he was at home due to Mitchell Claydon going on YouTube typing in 'baby noises' probably wasn't the best preparation for a four-day friendly!