It was a moment that left a permanent imprint in the minds of teammates and opponents, not to mention several thousand spectators in the stadium and many, many more watching on TV. It will be on playback in quite a few of those minds, too, when the man at the centre of one of county cricket's most horrific incidents begins his run-in for the first time since in a competitive match.

Luke Fletcher's doctors told him that he had dodged a bullet when a ball smashed back down the pitch by the Birmingham Bears batsman Sam Hain struck him full on the skull in a T20 match at Edgbaston last July.

So horrifying was the impact that had that blow merely ended his career he might have considered himself lucky. In the event, by some good fortune as freakish as the injury itself, all it cost him was a few stitches and the rest of the season off.

Yet Fletcher insists that when he next comes to bowl in a competitive match for Nottinghamshire he will do so without even a hint of trepidation. It has never crossed his mind that perhaps, having been lucky once, he should walk away. He has already bowled in pre-season games and would be ready to face the raw aggression of T20 tomorrow.

"I'm from a quite down-to-earth, grounded, hard-working background," he said. "My dad worked down the pit for 30 years and he had some bad injuries but his attitude was dust yourself off, enjoy the break and then get back on to it. So not any stage did anyone say that I shouldn't do that, nor did I think it.

"I just see this as my job, to go out and play cricket, to run in and bowl. It's either this or go back to frying chicken at Hooters."

It was a freak injury, he says, yet in the same breath he believes there is every chance it will happen again. He imagines a day when protection for bowlers and umpires will be commonplace. For the moment, though, like his colleagues, he will run in bare-headed.

"Hopefully it will not be commonplace but to be honest I reckon it will," he said. "Definitely in T20 and maybe in later overs in one-dayers, or even early on.

"Batters come so hard throughout the whole innings now. They are just trying to hit every single ball out of the park. And, if you are in the way, you are copping it.

"Bowlers and umpires are in a very vulnerable position these days because the ball comes back so fast you don't have time to react. I can see the day when bowlers and umpires are wearing protective headgear."

Fletcher was discharged from hospital the next day but that was only the start of a long road back to being declared medically safe to resume a normal life.

"I could not do anything for two months," he said. "I had a build-up of pressure in my head and any exercise would have added to the pressure so I pretty much did nothing until the end of the season. I didn't get into training until I came back with the lads in November and not full training until this year.

"I couldn't drive for six months, which was the killer. It was classed as a traumatic brain injury and you have to report it to the DVLA. You can only drive again when you have a report from your surgeon to say everything is back to normal.

"The club got me a bike and I was cycling in every day. It was more dangerous than driving - I came off it a few times on black ice. Seriously, though, they were worried I might have a fit at the wheel and you have to think about other people on the roads."

That inconvenience apart, Fletcher's biggest concern was boredom. Much as he enjoys the company of his now two-year-old son Freddie, he was not used to being around him quite so much.

"I had never had a six-month injury so I didn't know how I would react to it. The strangest thing was not actually having to be anywhere, not having to see anyone, not having to turn up to anything. I found that quite weird really.

"For the first couple of weeks it helped that people kept coming round. Nick Peirce [the ECB's chief medical officer] came a few times. I got calls asking if I wanted to get involved with some commentary stuff.

"It probably stopped me thinking about things too much, although I was never worried because I felt all right. It's the people around me, my family, my partner Kirsty, who have been more worried."

Now his focus is on picking up where he left off. He had taken 36 Championship wickets at 22.4, reasserting that he was an important component of Nottinghamshire's attack, when his misfortune struck.

"We had just won a Lord's final the week before and things were going well for me and the team in the Championship," he said "I had seen the opportunity to have a big season and suddenly it was all over.

"I had got myself into pretty good shape before last season, so it was disappointing. But I'm only 29 and I think I've got a lot of overs left in me yet."

He is better acquainted with the gym, too, than once might have been the case.

"When you are young, there are a lot of distractions," he said. "You go out and enjoy yourself. But my life is different now and in the last couple of years I've worked out what I need to do to give myself the best chance to help the team.

"I've struggled in the past with my weight and probably will all my life. I'm not the most natural athlete but I've got a good engine. I've done a lot to get back in shape, a lot of running and sessions on the bike.

"There are exciting things happening in the game with the new T20 franchises and I hopefully I'll be putting my hat in the ring for that. I'm just looking forward to getting started again."