Perth Scorchers paceman Jason Behrendorff says he went through some dark days during his lengthy injury layoffs, but he's optimistic of making a long-awaited return to red-ball cricket at some point.
Behrendorff has made a successful comeback after undergoing radical spinal surgery, playing 10 of 11 matches for the Scorchers this BBL season.
The only match he missed was when he returned to Perth for the birth of his second child.
The big quick appeared destined for a sparkling Test career after producing a series of damaging displays in Sheffield Shield ranks.
Behrendorff's finest moment came in 2017, when he snared 9-37 against Victoria in day one of a Shield match.
But his career has been plagued by back stress fractures since 2014, with the 30-year-old struggling to get out of bed at times.
The injuries became so worrying and persistent that he considered giving up on his red-ball dreams in order to focus on white-ball cricket.
But after having a bone graft from his hip fused to his spine in October 2019, Behrendorff is now fit and steadily building his form.
Tweaks to his technique combined with a run-up that is three metres shorter have also helped keep him injury free.
Behrendorff, who hasn't played a first-class match since 2017, is still holding out hope of returning to Shield ranks this summer, but he will reassess things after the BBL campaign.
"The ultimate goal is to get back to playing red ball cricket," Behrendorff said.
"That's something that's been in the back of my mind for a period of time now. But the forefront of my mind is that I've started playing some consistent cricket again, which is great.
"I haven't had any specific dates or time frames locked in stone (for Shield cricket), because I just don't know how things are going to pan out. It's an ever-changing beast in that sense."
Behrendorff's form has steadily improved throughout the current BBL campaign and he has now taken nine wickets at an average of 24.66 with an economy rate of 7.16.
Being back on the park has been a refreshing change for him after years spent watching from the sidelines.
"Sometimes going through rehab, there's some dark days and you think, 'What am I doing? Is it all worth it? What's the point?' That all festers away," he said.
"The biggest thing at the moment is not looking too far ahead and actually enjoying it."
The Scorchers have won six of their past seven games to rocket into second spot.
Perth take on the Hobart Hurricanes on Friday and the Stars on Saturday, before finishing their regular season against the Heat on Tuesday.
Australian Associated Press