May 1, 2001

Nash makes his decision and will try again

Dion Nash has been through the injury mill too many times to ever be guilty of counting his chickens before they are hatched, but he is determined to make the most of his bid to get back into international cricket.

Back problems have meant that the highly-competitive Nash has only been a bit player in New Zealand's cricket in recent times and, when he returned home from Zimbabwe last summer, it seemed he had reached the end of his tether.

The mind was willing but the body wasn't only weak it had practically seized up.

However, displaying the same level of guts which has been synonymous with his cricket, Nash clawed his way back into the first-class game with Auckland, batting well enough to score 452 runs at 30.13, including the fourth century of his career.

By the end of the season he was bowling a few overs to pick up five wickets at 25.40.

"I was pleased to bowl for Auckland. It gave me an idea of whether I could bowl with pain or not," Nash said.

An even greater test faced Nash at season's end however - whether he wanted to go through all the pain of building himself up to make a bid for international play again.

"I wasn't sure if I wanted to go through it. I went away and did a bit of tramping to think about it and see what I wanted to do.

"Last year I felt I had done as much work as I had ever done in preparation but I came back a month or six weeks too early," he said.

While he doesn't see his chance as being, as medical liaison man Gilbert Enoka put it yesterday "the last station before the desert", he says there are other things out in the desert to get on with in his life.

"But I feel I owe it one more go. International cricket is always something I have wanted to play in. And I felt like I was competing and competitive at that level.

"It is disappointing to be affected by injury but I am not going to give it away yet," he said.

That was why he came to Christchurch to attend the end of season fitness assessments that all members of the New Zealand team went through at the High Performance Centre.

"It was a chance to look at my general fitness and to see where we are at while also touching base with the coach.

"It was good to be back and certainly there is a carrot dangling there and I have everything to play for."

The first encouragement was that he was beyond where he was in terms of fitness at the same time last year.

He has set himself some goals but the first thing is to get over his injury.

That means going back to the drawing board with his action and leaving no stone unturned in assessing what his body requires of him.

He bowled lightly in Auckland yesterday at about 55% and will be looking to build that up over the next few months.

"I have a lot of work to do before I decide.

"Australia's a huge carrot for me but I need to play some cricket before then," he said.

Should he make it back to the level he wants, Nash will work much closer with the medical panel. He will be providing them with feedback on how he is doing and what he is feeling and working with them on developing a way forward from that.

It is a tough time for Nash not knowing what lies ahead of him after all the work he is putting in.

But taking on the challenge, whatever it was, has been the greatest trademark of Nash's international career.