New Brisbane Heat signing James Pattinson is on the other side of serious back surgery and says the chronic issue is feeling "100 per cent better" as he lays down some markers for his return to competitive cricket.
Pattinson, who today announced he had signed a two-year deal with the Heat from next summer, suffered a fifth back stress fracture last winter just before Australia's Test tour of Bangladesh, which ruled him out for the entire 2017-18 season.
But after a successful operation in New Zealand that saw metal pins inserted and his troublesome L4 vertebrae strengthened with wire, he has targeted a return to bowling in June, and beyond that, a comeback to competitive cricket in the JLT One-Day Cup in September.
"Hopefully I'm at a stage of my career where I can get over those injuries," he said in Brisbane today. "It has been tough. The good thing is it's the same injury, so if I can get it right, hopefully it'll hold up.
"Having had surgery and seeing the amount of players who have (had the same procedure and) come out the other side … if you asked me how I was going maybe two months ago how I was going, I'd have said 'not great', but since I've started back training everything's feeling a lot better.
"All the scar tissue and all that stuff from surgery is starting to break up a bit and I'm feeling 100 per cent better, so that's a bit of confidence for me.
"There's not a lot of cricket this winter so that gives me an opportunity to take my time with it.
"I'll start back bowling in June, have three months lead-in, then fingers crossed everything goes well and I'll be right for the one-day competition (with Victoria)."
The possibility of a move to the Heat was first floated to Pattinson by former assistant coach Shane Bond, who this week signed on as head coach at Sydney Thunder.
Bond was the first bowler to have the procedure Pattinson has now undergone, while another New Zealander – allrounder Corey Anderson – also bounced back from the surgery successfully.
"I'll have to be smart with it – limit my overs sometimes or pick my breaks here and there – but now that I've got past that first month of training, where I was a little bit sore, I'm starting to feel a lot better.
"The big thing where last time it went wrong was that I just kept going with it. I went over and played county cricket, so I had over six months of cricket.
"But again, there was obviously something in my back that was causing that. So now with a bit of reinforcement, I've got that 20-30 per cent extra strength in there.
"I think (the surgeon has done) close to 20 (of this surgery on fast bowlers) and all bar I think one have got back to playing first-class cricket, so it's pretty promising."