Injury curse forces Napier home from New Zealand

Graham Napier has again been struck by the injury jinx that has cursed his career. The Essex all-rounder has been forced to return home early from New Zealand to receive treatment on a torn tendon in his right arm after damaging an elbow in his first match for Central Districts.

“He has had a cortisone injection in the period between Christmas and New Year and that’s settled down quite nicely,” said Essex head coach Paul Grayson. “He now needs to rest for four weeks and the positive news is that he then hopes to start bowling again. He shouldn’t need an operation.

“The only reason he came home was because the contract he had in New Zealand was going to run out in about a month’s time. He was told he had to rest for a month and so it seemed the sensible thing to bring him home and monitor his recovery back in the UK.””

The 31-year-old, who enjoys a benefit with Essex this year, has suffered a series of injury setbacks during his career, none more worrying than a back injury at the beginning of June 2010 that threatened his playing future in the game.

With typical fortitude, however, the player overcame those concerns and proved his well-being with some impressive performances with both bat and ball in 2011.

He took a hat-trick in a Clydesdale Bank 40 match against Glamorgan and, a few weeks later, blasted the Surrey attack for 196 from just 130 balls at Croydon, a spectacular innings that lasted 199 minutes and included a world-record equalling 16 sixes.

Grayson fully expects Napier to be fit for the start of the 2012 season. He added: “We know we have to manage him carefully and we don’t expect him to play in every County Championship game, but he is a key bowler for us to support David Masters and Charl Willoughby. If we can get eight or so four-day games out of him, and plenty of one-day games, then we’ll be satisfied.”

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