Shane Harwood's career could be over due to a serious shoulder injury but the Victoria fast bowler has not given up hope of returning to state cricket next summer. Harwood, 35, needs a shoulder reconstruction, which means his 2009-10 season is over and it will be an uphill battle to regain his place in the Victoria team.
It was only seven months ago that Harwood became Australia's third oldest ODI debutant of all time when he collected 2 for 57 against South Africa in Port Elizabeth. He has always been a late starter, having made his first-class debut at 28, and he hopes his age won't be held against him in Victoria's future plans.
However, the Bushrangers have significant depth in their fast-bowling stocks with younger men such as Clint McKay, Peter Siddle, John Hastings, Steve Gilmour and Darren Pattinson likely to lead the attack in the future. Even the other veterans Damien Wright and Dirk Nannes are younger than Harwood.
"I'm still a bit optimistic I'll get back, to be honest," Harwood told the Herald Sun. "The thing that I'm positive about is I'm still bowling in the 140s. I still think that's achievable.
"I know a lot of people will put my age factor next to the reconstruction and have doubts. But if I can have a fair crack - I've got to do rehab until the end of the season anyway - I suppose we'll assess it at the end of that."
Harwood has had the injury for years, but due to his age and the prospect of losing his place in a strong side, he has until now opted not to have a reconstruction. The decision has now been taken out of his hands after he aggravated the problem in a one-dayer against Tasmania earlier this month.
"I had a clean-out before I went to the Champions League and battled through that while I was away," he said. "Then the last game I felt a bit of a pain go down my back when I attempted a yorker. Then I tried a slower ball and it hurt more. I finished my spell, but the next day I felt horrible. I knew I was in trouble.
"I damaged my shoulder about four years ago and I probably should have had a reconstruction then, but sort of subject to age and only having one-year contracts I avoided it. I didn't want to take that risk. If I was 26 I would have just gone and got it fixed like Sids [Peter Siddle] and Macca [Andrew McDonald] and these guys have. So I've hung with it."
Harwood will face a six- to 12-month rehabilitation and he will be 36 by the time he is ready to play again. He has played 44 first-class games and has always been injury prone, which will only add to the hard decisions that he and Victoria will need to make over the next year.