England hopeful Zafar Ansari is nearing a return to action for Surrey after a long spell out with a thumb injury.
Ansari, 24, picked up the injury fielding for Surrey against Lancashire in September, just hours after being called up for his maiden England Test tour against Pakistan.
Ansari was rewarded with an England spot due to a fine season with Surrey, where he scored 771 first-class runs and took 44 wickets, to help his side win the Division Two title.
He said: “I think initially it was frustrating, when you see what you’ve been missing.
“It felt very close, I think that’s when it’s at its hardest but as the winter progressed, I think it became more about getting my thumb right.
“It was a bad injury and it was important to try and concentrate on trying to be as ready as I can for the start of this season.
“To go through the process again of getting myself in the position, where the potential of playing for England is there.”
Ansari added that the England management staff kept in touch with him during his injury and he hopes he can do enough to earn a spot in the side again.
He added: “They’ve stayed in touch definitely. Paul Farbrace has every so often checked in with me. Peter Such has been round quite a lot as the spin coach.
“I think the message is, if you keep doing the same sort of things, then there are players in all the formats that are available.”
The Surrey all-rounder, who had two operations, admits that it will take time for him to rebuild his confidence on the pitch.
“When I’m fielding, the idea of someone smashing a ball at me is one that will take time to get used to,” Ansari continued.
“It might be a process of having to go through the season and do it as I’m playing, rather than get that confidence back, so there will be an element of working through it as I go along.”
After Ansari was required to withdraw from the England squad, his recovery over the winter was slow and he missed Surrey’s first County Championship Division One match against Nottinghamshire.
However, Ansari has recently made his return to action for Surrey’s second XI against Sussex.
The talented Englishman is aiming to be fit for Surrey’s clash against Somerset starting on April 24, hopeful once again to contribute significantly with bat and ball.