Matt Milnes is back out on the field this week after recovering from his second successive stress fracture, and his resilience has been hailed by a fellow fast bowler who has a fair idea of what he’s been through.
Matthew Fisher spent last summer recovering from exactly the same injury before returning to action in September.
In fact, just as he was returning, Milnes suffered his first injury. Then, after a winter of rehab at Headingley following a move from Kent, he played the opening LV= Insurance County Championship game of the season against Leicestershire and reported more symptoms late in the game.
Unfortunately, a recurrence was diagnosed in mid-April and he has been laid low since.
But the 29-year-old is fit again and is currently playing for Yorkshire’s second team against Lancashire at Southport in a Championship fixture. He scored 91 from number eight during yesterday’s opening day as the visitors amassed 433 all out.
Ideally, having built up some more match fitness, Milnes would return to first-team colours in one of the three remaining LV= Insurance County Championship fixtures.
“I’ve got huge admiration for what he’s done,” said Fisher.
“For Milnesy with what’s happened, moving clubs when he got injured – that was a massive thing.
“He committed to the whole of last winter to get fit again. The gym work you have to do when you’re trying to build your body back up is really intense. It’s not like it’s a hamstring injury where if you have a recurrence, it’s four to six weeks. It’s tricky, but it’s not six months.
“A stress fracture is a six-month injury, and for him to go through it all again and come out the other side and be ready to play again is unbelievable.”
Fisher continued: “This summer, he’s had exactly the same as what I had last year – he got injured in the first game.
“We chatted about his first one last September when I was making my way back, and he said, ‘It’s better for me because I’ve got it at a time when you don’t miss much cricket’. I get that, but there’s never a good time to get one.
“But, unfortunately for him, he’s had two back-to-back.”
On debut against Leicestershire in April, Milnes claimed four wickets in 36 overs across two innings. He also hit 75 in the first innings as a night-watchman.
Fisher said: “With him in that first game, I felt – and maybe the coaching and medical staff would agree – because we maybe had a few injuries, he potentially got thrown in a bit quick.
“I’d broken my hand, and he ended up bowling quite a lot of overs in that game. In hindsight, he bowled too many.
“It’s no blame on anybody because it was a tight game and he was desperate to help the team and giving it his all. That shows a lot about him. But it’s an injury where you have to build it up.”
Like Fisher, Nottingham-born Milnes has also represented the England Lions.
Fisher said: “He’s a great bloke, and we chat quite a bit.
“I can’t wait to have a seam attack where it’s Coad, Fisher, Milnes and Thompson – something like that. I think that would be a real good attack, with the other lads adding the depth.
“That would be a serious bowling unit.”
And he added: “I’ve been meaning to message him this week because I think he needs to be selfish and be honest with how he’s feeling.
“If he doesn’t get a first-team game in and he just plays seconds, that’s fine. As long as he’s not at risk, that’s the main thing.
“Even if we do play him, personally I’d keep him under some over-restrictions. I know what it feels like, and I just don’t want it to happen again to him.”