One of the major plusses of the early stages of Yorkshire’s winter programme has been the return to training of young all-round star Matthew Waite following ankle surgery.
Waite, named Yorkshire’s young player of the year in 2016, enjoyed first-team success in the early stages of the most recent summer before an impingement in his left ankle forced him onto the sidelines and ultimately under the knife.
The 21-year-old – he turns 22 on Christmas Eve – scored his maiden fifty in a 50-over defeat at Warwickshire before debuting in the nail-biting County Championship win over Somerset at Taunton, contributing three wickets to a three-run win.
But, unfortunately, he didn’t play any first-team cricket beyond early July and no second-team cricket beyond early August.
“It was actually an extra bone in my left ankle,” he explained. “So I had that taken out around about a month ago now.
“It’s built up over a period of time. I had it a little bit the season before last and needed some time away from bowling.
“Every time I bowled there was a sharp pain going through my ankle. It got to a point where I just couldn’t bowl.
“I had to pull out just before the Lancashire T20 game at Old Trafford, which was gutting because it’s the one everybody wants to play in.
“I was really confident and thought I could kick on after my Championship debut, but it wasn’t to be.
“I said after that Somerset game ‘If I have a long career, this is probably the best game I’ll play in’.
“To win by three runs at a ground where we hadn’t won for something like seven years, to be involved in that was a great feeling.
“It was pretty frustrating not to be able to build on that, but I’ve got to look forward to next season now.”
Waite was speaking yesterday afternoon as he joined the rest of Yorkshire’s squad on a team building exercise at the popular Teppanyaki restaurant in Leeds city centre.
The players first tried their hands at Japanese cooking before enjoying the fruits of their labour.
Needless to say, the Leeds-born ace is hungry for success in 2018, pardon the pun!
“I did a lot of rehab after my operation, and now we’re back into bowling and batting,” he said.
“I need to get my fitness back up to where everybody else’s is because of the time off either side of the operation. Hopefully my game can also keep progressing, learning new skills heading into the new season.
“I want to play in all forms.
“The County Championship is the real test of how good you are as a cricketer.
“We’ve got the strongest squad in England, I think. We’ve obviously got the internationals, but we’ve also got a few younger lads ready to break in, which is really exciting.
“I’m sure we can compete strongly in all competitions next year. That’s what we’re aiming for, and the lads are very confident.”