Tom chronicles long journey back
A couple of years ago if you had told Lancashire all-rounder Tom Smith that he was to miss the first fortnight of a cricket season, he would have been deeply disappointed.
These days he takes such news in his long stride.
After all, what is a slight hamstring injury when set beside the severe back problem that has kept former Chorley star Smith out of all cricket for a year?
If all goes well, the former Red Rose captain will return to the Lancashire side before too long, although not for this Sunday’s Specsavers County Championship opener against Nottinghamshire at Emirates Old Trafford.
And when Smith does take his place in Steven Croft’s team as they seek to establish themselves in Division One, it will represent a triumph of body and mind, with the glory being reflected among Lancashire medical staff and the player’s friends and family.
Cricket lovers interested in how Smith coped with the injury that could have ended his career, can read about it in a new book Boulder Rolling, his diary of the 2015 season, in which he played only one match.
It is an unusual diary in that for much of the summer Smith was confined to bed but he believes that the task of organising his thoughts helped him cope with the long process of recovery.
“I had a lot of time on my hands last season and I generally keep a personal diary anyway,” said Smith.
“Lancashire’s archivist, Malcolm Lorimer, asked me if I’d like to write a diary of the season and how the rehab was for me.
“There are the boring days in which I am lying in bed watching TV but that also gives a perspective on how the season was and how the lads were doing in the push for promotion and the T20 campaign.
“It gave me another focus rather than thinking about whether I was going to get fit.
“There were some dark days but also a driving goal to get myself fit and it was that, along with the support of the people around me, that got me through.”
Indeed, one of the stars to emerge from the book is Smith’s wife, Holly, whom he married in December 2014.
“Holly had to make sure I was fed and watered for a long time because I literally couldn’t walk down the stairs, and so I owe a lot to her,” said Smith.
“I tried to be as honest as possible but I shall always be grateful that the people around me were really strong and really positive.”
At the same time, when Smith had to reacquaint himself with basic skills and take the tiny steps necessary at the outset of his recovery, only he knew how his body was feeling.
“Those experiences have given him a fresh focus on the routine of being a first-class cricketer.
“I look back on going in for the operation and it seems like yesterday,” he said.
“But I was doing some fitness routines with Sam Byrne a short time ago and six months previously I couldn’t have believed that I would be doing that sort of work.
“It is weird to think that it has all been and gone and that we are back here on the threshold of a new season.
“It certainly makes you realise how fortunate you are to play the game and to do it as a job.
“The hard days when you are fielding for a hundred overs don’t seem so bad now.”