I know the hectic schedule of the Friends Life T20 competition has attracted some criticism, but it’s perfect for me at the moment. After having a spell out of the game with a broken jaw, it’s a case of the more the merrier as I try to make up for lost time.
I was pleased with the way the season was going until a bouncer from Ajmal Shahzad cracked me just below the ear in our County Championship game against Yorkshire at Trent Bridge in early May. There were only 10 minutes until lunch so I went off and iced it down, but after consulting the physio we decided it was probably just a bruise.
So I went back out to bat when Chris Read was out about an hour after lunch, and felt ok. I suppose that was the adrenaline, because once I was out and sat down I realised it wasn’t right, and went into hospital. It was only then I realised it was broken – the shock of the impact had broken the jaw from my chin running up to my bottom teeth.
That was new territory for me – I’d broken my nose a few years ago playing football, but never had a knock to the face like this. I looked like I had mumps to be honest, the first week after the operation my face was all over the place. But now, you’d never know it had happened. More importantly, I’m pretty confident that it hasn’t left any psychological scars.
I was keen to get back playing as quickly as possible – the injury came at a bad time for me because things were going pretty well in all forms of the game, and there had been a bit of talk that I might come into the England selectors’ thinking.
Basically, the doctors had left it up to me when I came back, but I had to delay it beyond the three-week target I’d initially set myself because the healing process slowed down a bit.
I ended up going straight into our t20 game against Derbyshire having not faced a ball. Obviously my timing was a bit off, and I was a bit nervous and apprehensive. But it was in our game up in Durham the other night that I made a bit of a breakthrough.
To be honest until then I hadn’t really faced any short-pitched bowling. But they had Graham Onions and Mitch Claydon who both gave me the test I was expecting, and I came through it okay – even though we lost the game.
That was our first defeat after we’d won our first four games, so it’s been a pretty good start for us in a competition we’re all desperate to do well in again – and obviously, the aim would be to go all the way if we can get back to the finals day, especially after the disappointment we had at the Rose Bowl last year.
We’ve got a strong middle order with Samit Patel, Adam Voges and Chris Read, and although losing David Hussey back to Australia will be a blow, Tamim Iqbal’s going to be an interesting replacement and his signing is an exciting development. And I was happy to score 67 from 39 balls against Durham in our home fixture with them last night, in a win which maintains our strong position in the North Group.
We’ve slipped down to sixth in the Championship, however, yet we definitely haven’t given up hope in that competition. It’s still pretty tight and there’s a lot of cricket to be played, starting with a massive game for us against Lancashire at Trent Bridge next week. We are still determined not to relinquish our title without a real fight.
As for me, I’ve got to be realistic and think that I’m not going to get picked in any of the squads England are announcing in the next few weeks. But if I can get back to the way I was playing before the injury, hopefully I can keep myself in the frame, and the one-day internationals against India later in the summer are definitely in the back of my mind.