When Olly Stone suffered a bizarre injury last season, he thought it might have ended not just his hopes of a move from Northants to Warwickshire but possibly his whole career. Now, 11 months later, he is hopeful that recovery is not too far away.
It was while celebrating the dismissal of Moeen Ali in a T20 game that Olly somehow managed to damage his anterior cruciate ligaments as well as his cartilage. An operation, followed by a long recovery period, beckoned.
“I thought that the injury might end the Bears’ interest in me,” Olly told Deep Extra Cover. “I’m grateful that they still wanted me. They have made me very welcome. I felt honoured that a club of this pedigree were interested in me.”
There have been setbacks on the long road back to fitness. “I had to have another operation just before Christmas to remove cartilage,” he says. “Then, having started running, I had shin problems so had to stop.”
Hopefully, Olly is now back on track for a return later this season though the possibility remains that 2018 may be more realistic.
“I’m being patient. But ideally, I have a target date of early July to get out there for my first games.”
Still only 23, Olly has the prospect of a long career ahead of him and is enjoying being at Edgbaston.
“It’s a Test Match ground so the facilities are great – a bigger dressing room and a gym next door. It’s also a great opportunity to tap into all the experience here.
“Amongst the pace bowlers, there’s Chris Woakes, Rikki Clarke, Keith Barker and Chris Wright. And Ashley Giles is Director of Sport. It’s great to have all that expertise available.”
That’s not to say that the decision to move from Northants was easy.
“I had been there since I was 13 and signed on to the Academy at 15. So it was hard to leave behind the club that got me to where I am and put so much time and effort into me.”
Now that the move has been made, Olly has ambitions in the game but the immediate objective is very clear. “I just want to get fit and stay fit – and play cricket!”
Beyond that, he would love, of course, to play for England in any format.
“The longer form of the game is most enjoyable to me as a bowler. You don’t get hit for six every other ball! But I love the one-day game as well.”
How does his approach vary from one format to another?
“It doesn’t change too much. In one-dayers, I try to do the same as in red-ball cricket. Then if the batsmen start to get hold of me, I go to my variations. You have to be ready to adapt.”
His bowling is not all that Olly has to offer.
“I got my first fifty last year and I’m keen to improve my batting. Now is a good time while my bowling capacity is so limited. In the past I’ve batted at nine or ten but I’d like to be seen as a good number eight – though there are a lot of those around at Edgbaston!”
It’s not just Warwickshire supporters who will be hoping that Olly Stone makes a complete recovery. No-one likes to see a career interrupted or, worse still, prematurely ended by injury. So cricket lovers generally will no doubt wish Olly well as he seeks to complete his long journey back to fitness.