Australian cricket December 4, 2008

Injured Jaques looks to South Africa trip

Cricinfo staff

Phil Jaques carried the injury since 2006 and is looking forward to regaining his full range of strokes © Getty Images

The opener Phil Jaques is hopeful of being fit for Australia's tour of South Africa in February and winning a spot as the reserve batsman after undergoing back surgery in October. Jaques left the trip to India early after being dropped for Simon Katich, but he has revealed he was suffering with the injury for years.

At its worst, the bulging disc meant Jaques had to get up at 5am to prepare for warm-ups and could not sit in a chair for more than 10 seconds. "It got to the point where I couldn't get up until about lunchtime with my back," he told the Australian. "It stopped me from everything I like doing, all the hobbies."

Jaques is not a chance of being considered for any of Australia's home Tests over the next two months, but he is looking to play two Sheffield Shield games to push for a spot in the South Africa tour party. "I want to try and get some cricket in before then and prove I'm right to go and then hopefully the selectors' policies on injured players will count for me as well and I'll come back into that side as a reserve batter," he said.

"There's still a really big slab of cricket coming up and I'm only going to miss two series really and I'll be back in the fray for South Africa. I'm seeing it as a half-time break in my career and I'm looking to come back stronger and better than ever."

Jaques became Justin Langer's permanent replacement in 2007 but the injury affected him during a run of nine Tests against Sri Lanka, India and West Indies. "It was something that I was able to live with but not perform as well I could have or would have," he said. "I wasn't able to hit through the covers as well as I had in the past."

Jaques, who scored a century in the last of his 11 Tests, was forced to cut out some of his attacking shots. "I was pretty well resigned to playing off my pads or down the ground and playing off the back foot," he said. "I was struggling with my stride. I wasn't able to get the ground that I wanted to. It's going to be great to go back and be able to be attacking and aggressive like I'd built a reputation for being in the past."

He said he was suffering from the same problem in 2006, when Trevor Hohns, the then chairman of selectors, told him to improve his fielding. "It goes back that far and I think I definitely had an issue and I'm sure I'm going to move a whole lot better when I come back," he said. "There were times during that time when I would have liked to have put my hand up and say I've got a bad back and can't quite move as well as I would like."