Ben Cutting waits for green light
Ben Cutting is used to aiming for the corridor of uncertainty instead of being stuck in it after an off-season spent wondering when he will return from a bad case of fast bowler's ankle. At the end of last summer Cutting, 23, was being discussed as a national prospect, but as the 2010-11 campaign began he was playing as a specialist batsman in grade cricket and limited to practising his action off a couple of steps.
Rather than celebrating his breakthrough summer of 46 Sheffield Shield wickets at 23.91 - the most in the competition - Cutting had a scan on his ankle straight after the final loss. It showed a stress fracture as well as a crack in his heel and he had surgery after some rest to settle the problems.
"It was meant to be six weeks before I could do running, but it's turned out to be six months," he told ESPNcricinfo. "The frustrating thing is I can't work to a timeline. I might have a bowl, and pull up sore, so I can't go harder the next day."
While Cutting was playing in the Shield final in March, South Australia's Peter George was called up as a standby player with the Test team in New Zealand. There was talk that if Cutting wasn't involved in the decider it might have been him covering for Ryan Harris.
As Cutting spent the off-season in rehabilitation, George re-joined the national team in England and on Saturday was picked for his first Test. "To be honest, it didn't really bother me," Cutting said of the rise of George and Josh Hazlewood during his absence. "It will take me a while to get on the park, and if I have a really good season this year it will take care of itself."
He did have a down period two months ago when he realised he'd probably miss the start of the summer, but he was cheery as the Bulls prepared for their opening matches. "The business end is after Christmas, you've got the Big Bash and the two finals as well, so I've got that in the front of my mind," he said.
Queensland began the season with Harris also on the injured list and Luke Feldman joined him after breaking his wrist in the opening one-day match against Tasmania on Wednesday. The setbacks leave the Bulls missing three of their major weapons and Cutting's team-mates are desperate to know when he'll be back. Currently his best chance of a return is the 2nd XI game against Tasmania on October 19.
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo