Matt Milnes is back on grass and bowling again as he recovers from his stress fracture of the back, suffered during the opening week of the summer in April.
The county’s new seam bowling all-rounder’s career at Headingley was delayed immediately after an encouraging debut in the Championship defeat against Leicestershire.
Milnes, 28, arrived from Kent in the early stages of his recovery from a first stress fracture injury last October but is now a decent way down the road in recuperating from a second.
There is no definite time-frame on his return to action, though he is not ruling out a return to first-team action in September. He also believes there is a good chance he could play in second-team cricket as a specialist batter beforehand.
“Everything’s gone to plan so far,” said Milnes. “The first 8-10 weeks, you’re making sure the bone heals and not putting it in any positions which prevent that. That’s the easy part physically but mentally it’s quite tough.
“Once that’s over, you can start running. I also started bowling off one step a couple of weeks ago, which makes you feel like you can play cricket again. There’s light at the end of the tunnel.”
Reflecting on that game against Leicestershire at Headingley when he took four wickets and contributed 90 runs, including 3-72 and 75 in the first innings.
“It was literally the last two balls I bowled in the game, right at the bitter end, that I felt something go,” he said. “I probably knew at the time what it felt like and that it wasn’t good news. It was pretty disappointing.”
In terms of this being the Nottingham-born star’s second stress fracture, it can bring positives and negatives.
“It’s tricky at times because there are milestones you can get to and tick off,” he explained. “But, having done it before, you feel a bit more numb to it and that excitement’s not there when you start running or bowling.
“On the back of that, with cricket going on in front of you, it can be doubly tricky.
“But, on the other side of it, it does help knowing what you can push through based on what you did last time. Hopefully it will all go swimmingly from here.
“It feels fairly early days, but at least I can get back on grass.”
On his return, he said: “I know that Matthew Fisher did a similar thing at the same time last year and came back in September. I know everyone’s got different journeys, but that’s a goal of mine.
“Maybe come August, I’ll be able to bat and bowl a small amount.
“It’s probably in the plan (to play some second-team cricket as a batter) at some point dependent on the schedules. That would be great to get back amongst the lads.
“That first game, I felt in very good nick, and I work really hard on my batting. I see myself as an all-rounder now. It would be quite good to do that.”
Milnes has also praised the work of Ed Owen (Yorkshire’s head of science and medicine), Harry Booker (head of strength and conditioning) and their team for the work done to help get him and others such as Mickey Edwards back towards fitness.
He added: “The guys work tirelessly. They’re in all the time, be it on match days when the lads are in playing or on non match days when those of us who are injured need work. I can’t speak highly enough of them.
“I’d much rather never see them, and I’ve told them that. But they’ve brilliant with me.”