Powerful memories for Essex bowler Quinn on return to Cheltenham
- Credit: Su Anderson
When the Essex team bus turns into the College Ground at Cheltenham sometime tomorrow afternoon, it will bring back powerful memories for Matt Quinn. Some of them will be good, others rather painful, writes Martin Smith.
New Zealander Quinn recorded his best bowling figures (seven for 76 and 11 for 163) in the Championship match against Gloucestershire at the picture-perfect ground two years ago this month. But it was also the game in which the seamer first felt the twinges in his lower back that have blighted his career ever since.
As Essex return to the Cotswold town for a Vitality Blast fixture tomorrow evening – followed by a second T20 game of the weekend against Hampshire at Chelmsford on Saturday (5pm start) – the 25-year-old Quinn reflected on the highs and lows of that visit in 2016.
He said: “It feels a long, long time ago that I took those wickets at Cheltenham. There have been two Christmases in between and I’ve gone home twice. It was a very successful trip to Cheltenham in terms of the cricket, but it was probably the first time, halfway through the second innings, where my back started to get really sore.”
Quinn has played just three and a half Championship matches in those two years, one last month against Nottinghamshire in his latest comeback, eight Royal London Cup ties, all in 2017, and not a single T20 outing since the end of July 2016.
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In the meantime he has had a season ticket for the hospital scanning department, been in and out of surgical gowns as screws have been inserted in his back and then taken out again, as well as enduring several bone grafts and long periods of rehabilitation.
All the while Essex have stood by him, lengthening his contract despite long periods of inactivity. They were rewarded when Quinn received the all-clear six months ago, and he returned to first-team action with two early wickets against Nottinghamshire in a match haul of five for 75.
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Time, though, waits for no man, and Quinn admitted: “I guess I’ve been out for so long that people have got ahead of me now. I’m almost bottom of the pile. I’ve got to earn my spot back again. I quite like that.”