Coronavrius sport lockdown continues long frustrating wait for Matt Wareing to return to action with Suffolk and Copdock & Old Ipswichian
Few, if any, cricketers will be feeling more frustrated across Suffolk right now than Matt Wareing. NICK GARNHAM caught up with him and explains why.
It was in May 2017 that Matt Wareing last bowled for club side Copdock & Old Ipswichian or Suffolk.
The left arm quick bowler, who made his Suffolk debut in 2015, had a bright future in front of him.
He had already bagged 36 wickets at 27.86 apiece in just 10 Minor Counties Championship outings, including a first five-wicket haul in the final match of the previous season against Buckinghamshire at Tring Park.
Wareing was on the verge of signing a contract with the MCC Young Cricketers – a finishing school for potential future first-class players whose fixture list includes matches against county 2nd XIs.
But his blossoming cricket career suddenly ground to a shuddering halt due to a bulging disc in his lower back, with a subsequent CT scan several months later revealing a stress fracture to his lower vertebrae.
It has since been a long road back to full fitness for Wareing, who initially returned to action last season as a top-order batsman for Copdock’s 2nd XI in Division Three of the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship.
He sent down some overs in the last half-a-dozen matches of the season to test his back out and even played for the first team in one East Anglian Premier League fixture, although he did not bowl.
Finally fully fit and ready to perform for Copdock in the EAPL and, also hopefully on the National Counties Cricket Association (as it now called) stage with Suffolk, Wareing’s return has been scuppered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now aged 26, Wareing said: “You have no idea how frustrating it has been for me, although I know there are much more important matters going on in the world right now.
“I feel I have been robbed of three of the best years of my cricket career, especially as I was about to sign a contract with the MCC Young Cricketers, with the playing opportunities that would have involved and being coached by first-class coaches.
“Worcestershire, whose 2nd XI I had been playing for, were ringing me up and asking if I was fit again.
“I was about to enter my third season with Suffolk and I was starting to feel a part of the side who were looking to push for trophies, so the injury came at a bad time for me.”
Wareing, who works for the family plumbing business and has been furloughed for the past month, took the first steps to playing for Suffolk once more when head coach Andy Northcote invited him to attend winter nets.
He said: “I was actually quite nervous when I turned up and I found the first couple of sessions quite hard, as my radar was a bit off, but then I started to bowl better and the coaches were showing more confidence in me.
“After around five sessions the squad was then reduced from around 30 to 18 players and I was over the moon when I made the cut as I was not really sure that I would be kept on, and that gave me a massive confidence boost. We then had another four or five sessions before everything ground to a halt.
“I don’t think any of us really knew how serious this would turn out to be when it first started. We initially thought we would miss the first couple of weeks of the season, but now we may not play at all this summer.
“I just want to get back out there and play again, but if that is not until next season, then so be it. If I had been selected for Suffolk this year it would have been like making a second debut after being out for so long.
“So to then have to wait another year makes me more driven to hit the ground running if, and when, my chance does come along.”