Injury-plagued young quick urged to channel Pat
Australia coach Matthew Mott has offered consolation to Tayla Vlaeminck, who will remain on the sidelines until 2021
21 August 2020, 12:24 PM AEST
Tearaway quick Tayla Vlaeminck could look to the example of fellow fast bowler Pat Cummins for consolation as she grapples with her latest long-term injury set back, Australia coach Matthew Mott says.
Vlaeminck’s T20 World Cup dream was shattered on the eve of Australia’s opening game in February when she was found to have stress fractures in her right foot.
Her hopes of a return to elite-level cricket in 2020 have now been dealt another blow, following a set back in her recovery after she reported a recurrence of right ankle pain three weeks ago while working through her rehabilitation
Cricket Australia today confirmed Vlaeminck had been ruled out of both Australia’s upcoming limited-overs series against New Zealand, and the entire Rebel WBBL season, where she would have taken the new ball for the Hobart Hurricanes.
With the 2021 ODI World Cup now postponed until 2022, team medical staff will take an ultra-conservative approach to her return.
Mott can empathise with the frustration Vlaeminck no doubt feels at the latest stalling of her cricket career.
But the Australia coach implored her to look at the long-term picture – one that he, his fellow coaching staff, and selectors all see the quick playing a feature role in.
"For a young fast bowler, it is such a delicate injury," Mott said speaking to cricket.com.au this week.
"She’s a high player of interest, she’s someone we rate incredibly highly.
"She needs to understand just how highly she is rated by everyone in our set up, and by the selectors.
"We’ve said to her a number of times there’s a lot of parallels between her and someone like Pat Cummins, who had a lot of injuries at the same time and was frustrated and wanted to play more cricket.
"But if you’ve got someone of that incredible ability, we want her to be able to string a lot of games together once she’s back playing, rather than coming in and out of the team ... especially with the amount of cricket that’s coming up (from late 2021)."
Like Vlaeminck, Cummins also burst into the Australian team aged 18, only to endure a torrid run of injuries that meant he waited six long years before playing his second Test.
Now, aged 27 and with his body now fully developed and adapted to the rigours of international cricket, he has been reborn as both durable and dangerous, rising to the top of the ICC’s Test bowling rankings.
By the time Vlaeminck made her international debut in 2018 she had already undergone two reconstructions on her right knee and recovered from a dislocated shoulder – injuries that meant she played for Australia before making her maiden appearance in the WBBL.
A partial ACL strain (her left knee, this time) in 2019 then prematurely ended her 2018-19 WBBL campaign, with Vlaeminck returning in time to make her Test debut during last year’s Ashes in England.
After putting together her first full WBBL campaign last summer, impressing in purple, she suffered another partial knee strain in late 2019, but recovered in time to hit the best form of her career in February this year.
She tormented India and England with her express pace through the tri-series that served as a World Cup warm-up – only to again find herself in the injury ward just days out from the start of the tournament proper.
So, with the 2021 ODI World Cup postponed until 2022, Mott said no risks would be taken with Vlaeminck’s recovery.
The 2021-22 summer marks the start of a hectic period where Australia will host an Ashes series, contest that ODI World Cup in New Zealand, compete in the Commonwealth Games in mid-2022, and play in a T20 World Cup in South Africa.
Ensuring the right-armer is in peak fitness for those major tournaments – and for many years beyond that – is the priority.
"She’s a player we’ll have to manage for at least the next two to three years, just by the nature of her physical profile and her training experience," Mott said.
"But everyone is united in this.
"We’ll need to manage her well and build slowly and gets that resistance and strength over time so she can be a really endurable bowler for Australia over the next 10 years.
"It is frustrating … (but) is where you need perspective. She’s in Melbourne at the moment and a lot of people are doing it really tough, so she’s handling it well."