Lancashire’s Chorley ace Tom Smith made a miraculous comeback from a career-threatening back injury after 12 months on the sidelines to play at Old Trafford.
The all-rounder was named Lancashire captain last season but after playing only one game a bulging disc forced him to have an operation.
At one point, he feared his cricket career could be over but he returned to the side for the first time since last April as Lancashire started their defence of the NatWest T20 Blast trophy with a nine wicket defeat to Derbyshire Falcons at Emirates Old Trafford.
The 30-year-old told BBC Lancashire prior to Saturday’s game: “I’m feeling really good, the body is holding up – touch wood.
“At the moment I can’t ask for any more from my body so that is good.
“I can’t thank everyone at the club enough for all the support they have given me.
“I just want to be out there playing.
“At one point I never thought I would play again and to have the luxury of playing again, I am certainly very lucky.
“It will be almost like making my debut all over again – although this time with 10 years experience behind me!
“I can’t wait to go out there and have some fun.
“It has been a long road and I have had a lot of help on the way. To be back out there will bring a smile to my face.”
Smith opened the batting and made nine runs on Saturday but he only bowled five balls and conceded eight runs as Derbyshire romped past Lancashire’s 131 score in just 13.4 overs.
The former Chorley Cricket Club player thanked the fans after the game.
He Tweeted: “Thanks for all the kind messages, great feeling to be back out playing, gutted about the result.”
Smith is currently in County Championship Division One action for Lancashire against Surrey.
Smith bowled nine overs for Lancashire and had two maiden overs as the hosts bowled Surrey out for 191. He opened the batting on the second day of the four-day game on Monday and was out for 59.
And he says The Red Rose have a very strong team.
He said: ““We are a very strong, confident team and we back each other 110%. We trust each other. It is looking like a very strong team.
“We have got a good blend of youth and experience. We are certainly going to be a side that is very capable of taking a lot of games away from teams.
“Every time you go out there to represent Lancashire you are pumped up and want to win.”