County news May 27, 2009

Noffke overcomes skin cancer scare

Ashley Noffke has reason to be thankful for the hip injury that dashed his hopes of pushing for a place in Australia's Ashes squad as it revealed the Queensland allrounder was suffering from skin cancer.

As Noffke was laid up during the domestic season in Australia a mole was found behind his knee that was diagnosed as a malignant melanoma. He immediately had it removed and made a full recovery in time to take up his deal with Worcestershire, but needs to remain alert for any reoccurrence.

"It was pretty scary at the time," Noffke told Cricinfo. "I was spending some time off the park when we found it so there is always a double-edged side to any misfortune, and it's definitely a positive that we found that. I had it cut away straight away and now I've got to keep an eye on things to make sure nothing comes back.

"If I had come here without having it treated the recovery process would have been a lot longer and I could have had long-running problems, but hopefully because we caught it early the worst is behind me now."

Noffke was restricted to five Sheffield Shield matches due to his injury problems but was still able to collect 18 wickets at 23.00 and feels that he could have pushed for an Ashes berth with a full season behind him.

"Before my hip injury I was bowling as well as anyone in the country and I would have definitely given myself a chance," he said. "It's whether I'd have produced enough wickets and runs at the time for the selectors to back me in that. But it didn't happen. I got injured so I guess that's the way it is."

Now at Worcestershire, Noffke has positioned himself ideally should the Australia squad suffer injuries during the ICC World Twenty20 and the Ashes. Noffke, though, insisted his immediate goal was to string some matches together.

"Obviously being in England during an Ashes tour is ideal because those things [injuries] have happened before but it wasn't big in my decision making," he said. "I've missed a lot of cricket at home and I needed to get over here and play for Worcestershire to get back into the swing of things and I'm still in the process of that."

After being overlooked for Australia's tour of India last year, Noffke hit out at the selection panel after feeling he hadn't been given a fair chance to prove his worth following two stand-out seasons for Queensland. His mood now appears to have mellowed and he admits the rough side of selection is something a player has to accept.

"Selection is just part and parcel of professional sport and you can't hang your hat on everything that happens," he said. "It's just a case of moving forward and waiting for any decisions that are made. I think as a player you always have to believe you are good enough to play at the level. I was lucky enough to have two really good seasons back-to-back for Queensland and I did get the chance to play for Australia at certain times."

Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo