Sophie Molineux is throwing everything at her bid to return to full fitness in time for Australia’s upcoming Ashes campaign.
She’s even moved house.
Molineux, who underwent surgery in early March after dislocating her right shoulder at a Victorian training session in a diving attempt gone very wrong, is in a race against time to recover for the UK tour in June and July.
Everything has to go right if the allrounder is to board that plane bound for Heathrow in late June, but speaking to cricket.com.au at 10 weeks post-surgery, Molineux is pleased with how her rehabilitation is progressing.
"It’s going really well, (the time has) gone pretty quick," Molineux said.
"I’m still a little while away (from batting or bowling) but I’ve been doing the right things and I’m seeing how it’s feeling day by day.
"Hopefully it’s not too far away. I’ve got to be able to bat and bowl to be selected, so it’d be good to have a good little stint before that and be training at full capacity.
"I’ll see how it goes, but I’ve still got time for that."
In the left-arm spinner’s favour is the fact she injured her non-dominant shoulder, vastly increasing her chances of being up to scratch in time for the multi-format, points-based series.
"I don’t have to relearn how to bowl or throw which is a massive bonus, that’s a huge positive to be able to take away," she said.
"(One thing is) diving in the field onto that side again, but I think that’ll come back pretty quickly in the heat of the game so I’m not too worried about that."
Daily rehabilitation has been crucial to Molineux’s chances of regaining full fitness in time for the series, which begins with an ODI at Leicester’s Grace Road Oval on July 2.
She’s even moved closer to Junction Oval to maximise the time she can dedicate to her recovery, taking up temporary residence in new Victorian teammate Ellyse Perry’s spare room.
Rehabilitation has been an entirely new experience for Molineux, who had never suffered a serious injury or undergone surgery before.
The dislocation also cost her the chance to make a maiden appearance in the green and gold in front of friends and family in Melbourne during the ODI series against New Zealand.
But Molineux, who celebrated her 21st birthday in January, is pragmatic when reflecting on her injury.
After all, she used to be housemates with fellow Australian and Victorian player Tayla Vlaeminck – who has spent more time in the injury ward than on the cricket field – and she knows she’s had it good so far.
"It was disappointing at the time, but I’m lucky I’ve had a pretty good run and I’ve got some good support at the moment," she said.
"I’d never had surgery before, so that was an experience. There have been some times where I’ve had to pull back and actually listen to my body for once, it’s actually teaching me a lot that I think will help me in the long run, in that sense."
The injury was the first major setback in what had been a dream rise up the ranks for Molineux.
A prodigiously talented allrounder from country Victoria, the left-hander was identified as a future Australian player at just 13 by former national coach turned private mentor John Harmer.
Molineux took every age group by storm, debuting for the Melbourne Renegades aged 17 before Harmer’s premonition was proved correct in March 2017, when she was handed her first Australian cap in India.
Her first 12 months of international cricket featured clean sweeps against India, New Zealand and Pakistan; she also played a crucial role in helping Australia take out the T20 World Cup in the West Indies.
Now, there’s the carrot of an Ashes tour in the UK. It’s a series coveted by every Australian player and Molineux is no different.
It’s safe to say her teammates will also be crossing their fingers that Molineux will be fit to join them in the UK – not only for her cricket abilities, but also for what she brings to the group off the field.
A laid-back character with an engaging, outgoing personality, Molineux quickly became a hit with her new teammates on her first international tour and is now part of the furniture in the Australian set-up, to the point where it’s almost hard to believe she only donned the green and gold for the first time 12 months ago.
She’s made her mark both on and off the field; taking the ball during the power play for the first time late last year in the absence of fellow left-arm spinner Jess Jonassen, Molineux handled the responsibility with a maturity well beyond her years, and played a crucial role in helping Australia win last November’s T20 World Cup.
During that Caribbean campaign, Molineux also made headlines when she took over the decks during a school visit in Guyana, playing DJ as her teammates danced the morning away with the local students.
The allrounder has simply been soaking up every second she’s had with the Australian coaches and players, determined to improve her game and make the most of every opportunity life as an international cricketer has to offer.
"Having those opportunities, I really enjoyed it," she said. "Some days you feel like you’re bowling absolute pies and other days it goes okay.
"(Taking the new ball) was a massive learning curve for me, I’ve still got a long way to go to be able to understand it all.
"It would be amazing to be able to travel overseas again with that group (for the Ashes).
"I’m hoping it does happen and I’m definitely not taking it for granted, playing for Australia is one of the most amazing things I’ve done, so fingers crossed."
CommBank Ashes Tour of England
First ODI Grace Road, Leicester, July 2
Second ODI Grace Road, Leicester, July 4
Third ODI St Lawrence Ground, Canterbury, July 7
First T20 County Ground, Chelmsford, July 26
Second T20 The County Ground, Hove, July 28
Third T20 Bristol County Ground, Bristol, July 31