Hampshire’s Aneurin Donald – the one county cricketer thankful for life in lockdown!

Aneurin Donald in action for Hampshire against Somerset last year. Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images.Aneurin Donald in action for Hampshire against Somerset last year. Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images.
Aneurin Donald in action for Hampshire against Somerset last year. Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images.
Not many professional athletes in the history of sport have suffered an ACL injury and not missed a single minute of action, or even a training session.

In that regard, Aneurin Donald counts himself as the luckiest cricketer of the lockdown.

The Hampshire batsman, 23, had surgery on his knee last December and was told he would be unlikely to play cricket this summer.

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But what he didn’t know at the time was that his county colleagues would also be sidelined for most of 2020.

Aneurin Donald hits out during a Royal London Cup tie for Hampshire last year. Pic: Harry Trump (Getty Images)Aneurin Donald hits out during a Royal London Cup tie for Hampshire last year. Pic: Harry Trump (Getty Images)
Aneurin Donald hits out during a Royal London Cup tie for Hampshire last year. Pic: Harry Trump (Getty Images)

‘I'm not sure I could have pulled it off any better!’ Donald said.

‘To be faced with kind of a nine-month layoff in any walk of life is a pretty tough one, especially in sports where you have such a short career.

‘It was a kind of panic at the start. You’re a year down the line and feel like you are potentially a year behind your competitors and a year behind where I wanted to be in my career.

‘Those were my initial fears.

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Aneurin Donald pads up during a Hampshire net session at Arundel last week. Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images.Aneurin Donald pads up during a Hampshire net session at Arundel last week. Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images.
Aneurin Donald pads up during a Hampshire net session at Arundel last week. Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images.

‘Generally, an injury is unavoidable at some point in your career, although this isn’t the one I would have chosen.

‘But to not miss a training session, let alone a game, so far is a bit of a treat really. If ever there was a year to do a serious injury it was this one.’

The manner of Donald’s injury - playing football to keep fit during the winter - will add weight to banning the activity around cricket.

Hampshire teammate Fidel Edwards missed virtually the entire 2016 season with a broken ankle suffered playing football on the Headingley pitch.

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Last winter, opener Rory Burns rolled his ankle to scupper his South Africa tour - the latest England cricketer to suffer a footballing injury. After that, the squad were told they couldn’t play football again.

Others had included Joe Denly, who hurt his left knee in the warm-up to the 2009 ODI against Australia at The Oval after he was tackled by Owais Shah, and Matt Prior, who suffered a back spasm prior to an Ashes Test the same year.

Elsewhere, key all-rounder Kieron Pollard was ruled out of the West Indies World Cup squad in 2014 after injuring his knee in a charity football game

Donald, who was ‘embarrassingly’ not near anyone else at the time, heard a loud crack and knew he was in trouble.

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That was confirmed when club physio James Clegg impressively diagnosed him immediately down the phone.

‘It wasn’t particularly fun and I think I learned my lesson,’ Donald admitted.

‘I can’t see there being much football played at the county over the next year or two!’

A positive of rehabilitating during a lockdown is the ability to fully focus on a full recovery, rather than stress over rushing back to action and potentially causing more long-term damage.

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‘I think FOMO [fear of missing out] is the keyword,” Donald said.

‘It was about missing out on travelling around the country with the boys playing in front of crowds, trying to improve, moving on to the next step in my career and especially kicking on at Hampshire after my debut season.

‘Due to the unusual circumstances, I’m not three or four months into the season and sat on the sidelines itching to get going and the coaches are desperate for me to get back.

‘It has been a lot easier to take my time and try and get it right.

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‘There were plenty of FaceTime calls and gym sessions in front of my iPhone in my conservatory back home with my family. So, eyes were kept on me.

‘It's still a little way off, unfortunately, but just the feeling that I'm not missing out and feel like I don't need to rush you back makes things a little easier.’

Donald is now back with the squad at their Arundel training base, although is spending more time providing the coffees than hitting balls.

‘I was fortunate enough to hit a few underarms which was a bit of a treat,’ he said.

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‘First and foremost, it was just nice to see all the boys again and seeing them all back and at it again.”

The first-class counties agreed last week that the domestic season will comprise of four-day and T20 cricket once it gets back underway on August 1.

Donald is still unsure if he will play at all in 2020.

He said: ‘It is going to be touch and go at the end of the season and a risk vs reward in terms of how I’m looking.

‘It’s the kind of injury that I need to make sure that my career down the line isn’t affected.

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‘With it being a shortened season, where there isn’t as much pressure, it might be the case that we decide to delay the comeback and hit next season running.’

Donald enjoyed the perfect debut season at the Ageas Bowl last year, having made the switch from boyhood club Glamorgan the previous winter.

A Lord’s final a month into his stint ‘justified the move and settled that little voice in the back of my mind’, but his Championship tally of 554 runs at an average of 39.57 endeared him to his new home supporters.

‘I was really pleased with what I achieved in the red ball,’ Donald said.

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‘I knew what I could do in red ball but it was going to be a case of waiting for my turn and take my chance when it came and, fortunately for me, I slotted into the lower order of the line-up well.

‘To go into Division One, where there's a clear quality gap, and perform the way I did made me really proud.

‘You had [Sam] Northeast at four, Vince at five, me and [Liam] Dawson at six and seven - that's pretty much as heavy a batting line-up as they come in county cricket.

‘It was nice to give back the faith Chalks, Adi and Vincey [director of cricket Giles White, first-team manager Adi Birrell and club captain James Vince] had when they picked me and signed me.’

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Donald made an instant impact for Hampshire with 75 on debut against Warwickshire at Edgbaston last May.

In only his fourth Championship game, against the same team at The Ageas Bowl, he came in at No 6 and belted 173 - the third first class hundred of his career.

He wasted no time either, reaching three figures off 103 balls and requiring just 20 more deliveries to bring up his 150 - a scoring rate which would be impressive in T20 cricket let alone the four-day game.

In all, Donald’s innings contained 21 fours and five sixes. He also scored 52 in the second innings but failed to pass 43 in his last seven Championship innings.

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One negative, before the injury, was the failure to get picked up in the Hundred draft – with his heart set on a dream move to Welsh Fire.

‘It wasn’t particularly fun watching the draft and having your name not come up,’ the proud Welshman (named after one of the most famous people ever to come from Wales, Aneurin Bevan, the man who set up the NHS) lamented.

‘It’s the new shiny toy, the premium competition, and you want to be involved in playing against the best players in the world.

‘I was desperate to sneak in the last couple of spots and was crossing my fingers and hoping that I could have made it back to Cardiff for some Welsh representation there but, unfortunately, it didn’t pan out.’

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Donald would have been the only Welshman in the Cardiff-based franchise had he been snapped up to play alongside the likes of Steve Smith, Jonny Bairstow, Tom Banton and ex-Hampshire and England spinner Danny Briggs.

Perhaps his modest T20 record - only five half-centuries in 49 innings at 20.15 - counted against him.


It was four years ago this week that Aneurin Donald announced himself as one to watch.

Then just 19, he equalled the fastest double century in first class cricket history while playing for Glamorgan against Derbyshire in Division 2 of the Championship at Colwyn Bay.

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Donald made an astonishing 234 off just 136 balls - with his double century coming off just 123 deliveries.

That saw him equal the record that Indian batsman Ravi Shastri had set in 1985 while playing for Bombay in a Ranji Trophy zonal match against Baroda.

Dropped twice early on, Donald went on to lash 15 sixes and 26 fours.

He brought his 50 up from 38 balls and needed 42 more deliveries to reach what was his maiden Championship century.

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Donald then stepped up his onslaught, requiring just 24 more balls to reach 150 and only 17 (including five sixes and three fours) to bring up his double ton.

He reached his 100, 150 and 200 with sixes.

By the time Donald had struck his 15th and final six, a passing car had been dented outside the ground - as had five others in the members enclosure.

As well as equalling a world record, Donald also became Glamorgan’s youngest double centurion - five years younger than the previous incumbent John Hopkins.

Donald has only made one more Championship hundred since, his 173 for Hampshire against Warwickshire last summer.

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