Sense over dollars for Behrendorff

31 July 2018

WA quick happy to miss IPL as his troublesome back undergoes surprising recovery

There aren't many cricketers who can say they greeted news of missing out on a six-figure Indian Premier League contract with genuine excitement.

Yet the injury update that denied Jason Behrendorff a $291,000 windfall and a maiden stint in the sport’s most lucrative event had greater implications.

For the better.

The left-arm quick announced himself to the wider cricket world last October when, in just his second game for Australia, he dismissed India's entire top four (including captain Virat Kohli) in the space of 12 balls.

But with a breakout summer looming, Behrendorff only played a further nine days of cricket and bowled another 64 overs for the entire season, as the back problems that have plagued him returned the following month.

So strong was his first impression on Indian soil that Mumbai Indians fronted up more than a quarter of a million Australian dollars for his services in January, despite him publicly admitting medicos had told him his back would never be the same again.

"Because the fracture had been opened and closed a few times, originally we didn't think the fracture was going to close up properly," Behrendorff told cricket.com.au. "If it wasn't going to (heal), we were going to potentially push ahead and hoped it would stabilise itself.

"The fact it had been opened a few times and the fracture was quite wide, they thought there's not really any chance it's going to heal.

"I've been told that guys in the past have played with open fractures – once they open and separate, the nerve endings don’t get as aggravated."

Resigned to the fact his back may never return to its original state, Behrendorff seriously considered the viability of continuing to play all three formats.

The previous summer he'd scythed through reigning Sheffield Shield champions Victoria for a return of 9-37, the fifth-best figures in the competition's history, yet his lifelong goal of one day pulling on the Baggy Green was under threat.

Feb 2017: Behrendorff destroys Vics at the WACA

But as he pushed to get the all clear for the IPL, the next set of scan results he went in for told a different story to the one he was trying to reconcile with.

The X-ray images showed the fracture starting to close up. His back was healing.

"That's when they (doctors) said, 'we need you to back off a little bit and see how far this is going to close up,'" Behrendorff explained. "That's why I didn't go to the IPL.

"It's worked out well in that my back is doing what we didn't think it would and is actually healing properly."


It’s been a while... #preseason 🏏

A post shared by Jason Behrendorff (@jdorff5) on

After going eight months without bowling a ball, Behrendorff was finally able to run in off a few steps earlier this month.

He's now targeting a return for September's JLT One-Day Cup with title-holders Western Australia, while pulling on the whites and the Warriors' black baggy cap remains a distant goal after that.

"I was seriously having to consider the way I go about formats," he continued. "But now I've got that scan – it's not 100 per cent clear yet, but it's on the path to doing that – it keeps my options open for all forms of cricket going forward.

"That's something I'm really pumped about because I love playing the long form of the game.

"The ultimate goal is to play Test cricket for Australia.

"To get that news was really exciting and ideally down the track I'll be able to keep building up and push for selection in all forms."

Behnrendorff however has his eyes firmly set on the here and now.

The Canberra-born bowler understands his best avenue back into Australian colours is with a white ball in hand, while his new WA and Perth Scorchers coach Adam Voges forecast mainly limited-overs cricket for him and fellow luckless paceman Nathan Coulter-Nile.

"We've got some plans in place for Jason and Nathan," Voges told cricket.com.au. "Hopefully we can build them up and get some good white-ball cricket out of them in the near future.

"They've missed a lot of cricket. We're pretty specific about what we're going to try and do with those guys to get them up and running. But they're showing really good signs at the moment which is really encouraging.

"The goal is still the same for those guys – they both want to play Test cricket. But it'll be a slow build.

"If we're smart about it in terms of keeping them on the park for periods of time, we can reassess later down the track as to when we think their bodies will be able to handle four-day cricket again."

There was another silver lining for Behrendorff to missing the IPL.

In April, his wife Juvelle gave birth to their son, Harrison, whom he credits with refreshing his outlook on an umpteenth bout of rehabilitation for his recovering back.

"I was around for the first six weeks of Harrison's life over our off-season break," said the 28-year-old. "I was able to be at home the majority of the time to help out with him and do some training in my own time.

"It's really helped change my perspective on things – a lot of guys say that when they have kids, but it really does.

"My wife is pretty keen to bring him down to the cricket when the season starts – hopefully he enjoys watching Dad play."

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Filed Under

Australia Men

Mumbai Indians

Western Australia

Jason Behrendorff

JLT One-Day Cup 2018