Kristen Beams admits there were times she doubted she'd even make it back to the game after rupturing her achilles earlier this year.
But after many long months of an ultimately successful rehabilitation, the Melbourne Stars skipper is refreshed and ready to embrace the next phase of her playing career.
Beams played her first two matches of the Rebel WBBL season at the weekend, having missed the start of the season as she continued to recuperate from the ruptured achilles she suffered while playing Premier cricket in April.
“I honestly couldn’t work out if I wanted to throw up or cry this morning, I was so nervous and excited,” Beams said after her return back on Saturday.
“I was probably a little bit emotional but it’s just nice to be back out there with the girls.”
It was a long and tough recuperation for the 34-year-old former Australian leg-spinner, who returned to the game with limited preparation when she met the Perth Scorchers at Casey Fields on Saturday.
She went wicketless in that first game, her two overs going for 16 runs, but she bounced back in fine style on Sunday, claiming player-of-the-match honours after collecting 3-13.
“It’s been a big journey, (it took) nine months … my partner said it would have been a much better use of my time if I’d had a baby in nine months,” Beams laughed when speaking about her rehabilitation last weekend.
“It’s been a long rehab but I think it’s been probably a good learning opportunity to spend that time away from the game and to get that hunger for it.
“I can’t doubt there’s been times where I’ve thought about whether I’d actually get to come back and play, it felt there for a while like I wasn’t actually going to get back and play.
“(Now) I feel really excited and refreshed … for me it’s about what I can do for the team.
“I feel like it’s not so much about me anymore, it’s just wanting to come back and do a job.”
Captaining a crop of promising up-and-coming players including Australian U19s representative and National Performance Squad member Annabel Sutherland is one of the factors driving Beams.
“I think they keep you young,” she said. “It’s exciting to work with those players, the ceiling for those guys is amazing.
“That’s the nice thing about being a bowling captain, you can be out there and have a good discussion.
“Sometimes I feel like more of a coach than a captain because I’m just willing them to bowl their best ball, and to try stuff and show off their skills which is what this game is about.”
The Stars appear a much-improved outfit this season after battling in the lower half of the ladder in WBBL|03.
They currently sit third on the table with three wins from five matches, a record they’ll aim to improve when they meet Brisbane Heat at the Gabba on Wednesday.
“We’ve worked really hard in terms of our recruitment and on the style of play we want to go about our business with,” Beams explained.
“I’m just really pleased we’ve been able to execute that more times than not.”