When in a run of decent form, whether with bat or ball, cricketers often point out that the next game can’t come soon enough.
So when Harry Gurney was ruled out for three after taking 30 wickets in his first nine competitive matches of the season in four and one-day cricket, it’s little wonder that the enforced lay-off came as a huge disappointment.
After shortening his run up over the winter break, the Nottingham-born 31-year-old made a superb start to the Specsavers County Championship campaign, claiming 21 wickets in five games at 18.95.
He then added another nine wickets in three matches at 19.55 in Royal London One-Day Cup cricket before sustaining a calf problem on the eve of Family Fun Day at Trent Bridge, when the Outlaws took on Warwickshire in front of more than 14,000 people.
Thankfully, Gurney’s road back to fitness, while not easy, has been relatively smooth and he is raring to go again.
After playing in the 50-over play-off defeat at Kent, and four-day match against Essex at Chelmsford last week, in which he helped secure a first first-class victory at the ground since 1984, Gurney is intent on continuing where he left off in the key games to come.
“It’s good to be back, as it’s always really frustrating to be injured,” admits Gurney. “You want to be out there playing, not sat on the sidelines.
“The injury was one I got bowling in the nets in the lad up to the Warwickshire 50-over game. I was just running in to bowl and I felt it – a classic muscle tear.
“What goes into your rehab is hard work and you would rather be doing that hard work on the field rather than off of it, but it feels fine now and I feel that I’m back to 100 percent. The aim now is to get back to taking wickets regularly.”
Next in his sights are Worcestershire, who visit tomorrow for a pink ball, day-night clash that will be the second such game held at Trent Bridge in as many summers, following the Green and Gold’s clash with Kent this time last year.
Then, Notts seemed destined to clinch victory as they were about to start a second-innings victory chase of just 74, only for the heavens to open and the rain to see the match abandoned as a draw.
Gurney took 1-42 and 3-63 in that game, so got ample opportunity to bowl with the pink ball and see what can be expected with it, though one difference is that Division One matches will use the Kookaburra brand of balls, as opposed to Dukes, on this occasion.
He says: “I think the pink ball during the day probably does a bit less than the red one, but then when it’s that dusk period it can do quite a bit and is tricky for the batsmen, which evens it up a bit.
“You see a lot of times that teams like to bat first because they can score quite well in the first two sessions before it start to swing and seam around in that dusk period.
“This year we are playing with the Kookaburra, but I think it will behave in a similar way and there won’t be much change, but we’ll have to wait and see, which will be interesting.
“It could be that with quite a wiry seam, there might be a bit more turn for the spinners, but the bottom line is that you still go about your business in the same way. I will still be trying to hit the top of off stump.”
"It’s good to be back, as it’s always really frustrating to be injured."
Although the pink ball, day-night format has been viewed as a way of attracting a post-work audience to cricket, Gurney sees these games as being important for players with England ambitions.
Within the last 12 months, England have played the West Indies, Australia and New Zealand in such matches, so realises it is essential for county cricket to mirror those conditions at least once a season.
“What we are doing it for, and why it’s important, is that we prepare those players from the counties who might go on to play in a pink ball Test,” he explains.
“It makes sense that if a Broady (Stuart Broad), Bally (Jake Ball) or another young player is going to play with it for England, that they get some experience of it at county level first.”
Opponents Worcestershire travel north having beaten Lancashire for their first four-day win of the season, but still sit bottom of the Division One table.
They will also have in their memories an innings defeat by Notts in late April, but Gurney nevertheless expects a tough fight against a side who won in Nottingham last year and can call on talented players such as Daryl Mitchell, Joe Clarke, Ed Barnard and Steve Magoffin.
He insists: “The Worcestershire win away from home was a great effort, particularly as we were able to get it done in two days.
“We sat there and watched it rain for two days and then we got up on the third day with the bonus of bowling first. I felt at that point that there was only one side who could force the win and that was us if we bowled them out cheaply.
“That’s exactly what happened, and then we did brilliantly well to get up to 300 in tricky conditions to put the pressure on them so we could bowl them out again.
“I think that will give us a psychological advantage going into this match, although we’re well aware that they are a good side with some excellent established and up-and-coming players, who we can’t underestimate as they have beaten us a time or two in the last couple of years in different competitions.”
A big plus will be the availability of Stuart Broad, who has been freed to play by the ECB after resting up since the conclusion of England’s Test series with Pakistan.
The experienced international paceman has taken 14 wickets at 13.42 in the three Specsavers County Championship matches he has played against Worcestershire (at Blackfinch New Road), Hampshire and Lancashire.
“It’s a massive boost to have Broady available, especially as Mull (Steven Mullaney) won’t be in our team and Bally won’t be available to play either,” says Gurney.
“There is the obvious benefit of having a quality Test bowler in your ranks, but the other thing is the psychological advantage he can give you when a team has to prepare for the game knowing the opposition has a player of his stature in their line-up.”
Nottinghamshire squad to face Worcestershire: Jake Libby, Chris Nash (c), Stuart Broad, Riki Wessels, Harry Gurney, Matt Milnes, Luke Fletcher, Matt Carter, Samit Patel, Tom Moores, Ross Taylor, Billy Root
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