NCN takes matters into his own hands

Paceman opens up about latest injury setback, the possibility of becoming a T20 specialist and the mental anguish of spending time on the sidelines

Staring down the barrel of another 12-month stint on the sidelines, the minor stress fracture suffered by Nathan Coulter-Nile last month could have had implications that were anything but.

The recurring stress fracture in Coulter-Nile’s back that has seen him out of action since the opening round of the JLT Sheffield Shield season – his first four-day match in more than two years – was nearly "the straw that broke the camel’s back".

The latest in a long run of serious and frustrating injuries that have stunted his development, Coulter-Nile says he simply couldn't face going back to square one yet again.

"The Cricket Australia physio said I shouldn’t bowl back-to-back four day games for 12 months. I just said 'Look, I can’t do that so I might as well have a crack at playing T20 cricket or I might as well hang up the boots'," Coulter-Nile told this week.

"There's a little bit of healing there, the physios want more time off but there’s just no point because I'll miss another 18 months and it’s just not something I want to do.

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"It’s only four overs, stress fractures are kind of a load-bearing injury so hopefully (playing T20s) doesn’t overload too much."

But the 30-year-old is not letting his latest back injury get the better of him.

Coulter-Nile returned to bowling on Monday with his sight set firmly on a return in Perth Scorchers’ opening KFC BBL match against Sydney Sixers on December 23, but admits the latest setback has been his toughest mental challenge to date.

"This was probably the first time it sort of broke me a little bit," Coulter-Nile said.

"It’s almost been three summers now that I’ve missed and it got to me a bit, especially when I wanted to play the first game and they said we’d push it back a little bit.

"That sort of just broke the camel's back a little bit, but hopefully I’ll play sooner rather later and get back out there and really start enjoying cricket again."

The towering quick enjoyed a strong return to international cricket in Australia’s recent ODI series against India, with 10 wickets at 25 and two scalps in as many T20s that followed, after he’d returned to action in the Indian Premier League earlier this year.

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Having gone almost 10 months without playing, he admits that playing eight IPL games and then every match on the Indian tour in September-October was too much too soon for his temperamental body.

"I don’t think I was ready to play to be honest, I hadn’t fully got back to playing or bowling after the stress fracture," he said.

"It was good to go over there and play for Australia – that’s what you want to do and I would never turn it down ever – but looking back at it I could’ve done with a few more weeks getting my action and my back right.

"Now that I’ve done it, I’ll probably miss the next one-day tournament. Hindsight is a lovely thing, but you don’t turn down playing for your country."

The blow comes just months after WA and Scorchers coach Justin Langer played a significant role in convincing Coulter-Nile to stay focused on his dream of playing Test cricket.

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But the option of being a T20 specialist is becoming harder and harder to ignore.

"It’s at the front of my mind now," Coulter-Nile said.

"I’m not saying anything about giving it up, but it’s such a long road and such a long mountain.

"I’m just going to put that off until I can get back playing some T20 cricket, hopefully play some one-day cricket and see where my body’s at coming into next year."

Coulter-Nile’s luckless run with injury isn't a standalone case for WA’s fast-bowling attack, with left-armers Jason Behrendorff (back) and Joel Paris (quad) currently pushing to be fit for another Scorchers title defence after two injury-ravaged years.

"I think because you know how hard it is when you get told about these long-term injuries when you’re out of the game, it makes you empathise with how they’re feeling," Coulter-Nile said as another WA spearhead, right-armer David Moody, joined their growing injury list last week.

"Joel Paris, Jason Behrendorff, David Moody just went down, it’s hard. You do feel it every single time you hear another one or any of your teammates go down with those long injuries.

"You give them a call, you see how they’re going but really there’s not much you can do except tell them it’s part of the game and you’ll come back better than before hopefully and just get on with it."

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