Chris Wood played through the pain barrier to try and preserve Hampshire’s top-flight status but insists: Now I’m fit and raring to go.
The left-armer was among the bright spots of a disappointing 2011 campaign for Hants, taking 24 wickets at less than 28 runs apiece as Hampshire were relegated from division one of the County Championship.
And Wood’s battling performances – especially towards the climax of the season – now look all the more impressive after the 21-year-old revealed he was suffering from a serious back injury for the last two matches of the relegation battle.
With Hampshire’s division two campaign due to begin in eight days when they host Gloucestershire, the youngster is now back to full fitness and desperate to fire his side back to the top division.
He told The News: ‘I started feeling a problem in my back during the final two games of last season.
‘But as we were in such a difficult position and I was doing quite well, I opted to play through it and hoped it wasn’t anything too severe at the end of the year.
‘Unfortunately, it turned out to be pretty serious.
‘I had a problem with a disc on my lower right-hand side, so I was struggling a bit before Christmas and had quite a bit of time away from the game.
‘It was something I needed to rest completely away from the game.
‘I’ve been going through rehab since the start of the year and am fully fit and raring to go now.’
Wood revealed the injury also cost him his chance to train at former Australian batsman Darren Lehman’s Cricket Academy in Adelaide over the winter.
Having played down under in Perth in 2009, the bowler was disappointed to miss out on the chance to follow in the footsteps of Monty Panesar, Ajmal Shahzad and Samit Patel in attending the academy.
‘That would have been the ideal preparation for the new season, so it was a real setback,’ he added. ‘Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to go over there again because it’s a fantastic opportunity.
‘It was disappointing to miss out but it enabled me to do other things. I’ve got involved in a lot of coaching now which is something I’d like to do more of.’
Having put his injury problems behind him, Wood is now desperate to erase the pain of last year’s relegation and help send Hampshire back to the top flight.
He said: ‘Everyone was gutted to go down last year and the main aim has to be to get us back into division one as quickly as possible.
‘If it doesn’t come this year then we’ll work hard towards it and keep pushing for it the next season. We’ve got a great mix of the young and old and, touch-wood, everything is in place for us to do it – we’ve just got to deliver now.’