Cricket: Eager Neesham determined to put his run of back issues behind him

By David Leggat

There's no question Neesham is a gifted cricketer. Photo / Photosport
There's no question Neesham is a gifted cricketer. Photo / Photosport

Jimmy Neesham is bristling to get back into action; then again, so he should be.

The Otago allrounder is about to make his return to international cricket after being absent since breaking down in Brisbane last November.

Depending on how you want to count them " one long period of instability in his back or three separate episodes " Neesham is due a bit of luck. He suffered a stress fracture in January last year, did his rehab and returned for the one-day series in Zimbabwe and South Africa last August, only to have it let him down in the first test against Australia at the Gabba. Now, he's optimistic his luck is about to turn.

"We've gone about things a little different this time, been more thorough and hopefully that will give the chance of a successful comeback," he said ahead of departing with the test squad for India tomorrow.

He's been feeling "100 per cent for a while now", wintered at English county Derbyshire for their T20 competition and changed how he trained at the gym.

"I feel a lot fresher batting and, with my bowling, I've been able to get my loads up now to a level where I should be able to get through test cricket. The proof will be in the pudding but I'm confident."

There's no question Neesham is a gifted cricketer. The assertive lefthander scored centuries in his first two tests, against India, then the West Indies in 2014, averages a highly respectable 38 with the bat, has good hands and is a tidy medium pacer.

Here's one scenario which could play out in India; Neesham bats at No6 and wicketkeeper BJ Watling at 7, leaving room for four bowlers, two spinners with Neesham to provide seam support for two seamers.

Spinning allrounder Mitchell Santner has had his chances in the absence of Neesham and Corey Anderson, still on the mend from his own back problems. There's intriguing selection meetings ahead for coach Mike Hesson and captain Kane Williamson in India.

Neesham, at 25, should have his best years in front of him. There had been dark thoughts - "you do have those times lying in bed at night wondering if you're ever going to play international cricket again" - but when the squad meet up tomorrow he'll be easy to spot; the guy with the broad grin.

- NZ Herald

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