Too young for the fast life?

As John Hastings is forced to retire at 33, we look at the several Australia fast bowlers who have debuted before the age of 25 and struggled with injuries

John Hastings has had to retire at 33 due to a lung condition and he joins a long list of Australia fast bowlers who started young and struggled with injuries through their careers. Cricket Australia believes a fast bowler's body only matures at 25 years of age, but there have been many quicks who have played for Australia much before that. Hastings was 24 when he made his international debut and had already suffered major injuries previously.
Bruce Reid
Debuted at 22 years
Last international at 29 years
Games: 27 Tests, 61 ODIs
It was after left-arm quick Bruce Reid's career ended prematurely that Australia began trying to protect young fast bowlers. Reid, who was 6.6-foot tall, became Australia's spearhead in the mid 1980s and had an impressive average of 24.63. But his slight frame was put under too much stress by the rigours of fast bowling, and after repeated injuries, he played his last Test at just 29.
Jo Angel
Debuted at 24 years
Last international at 26 years
Games: 4 Tests, 3 ODIs
Another 6.6-foot quick, Angel looked a dangerous proposition in his early career, particularly on wickets that offered extra bounce, such as the WACA, his home pitch. While it was below-par performances that saw him dropped from the team initially, it was a succession of injuries that prevented him from making a comeback. He lost some of his pace, though he was still able to have a successful first-class career.
Damien Fleming
Debuted at 24 years
Last international at 31 years
Games: 20 Tests, 88 ODIs
Damien Fleming won a World Cup and had some memorable performances in ODIs, but in Tests, his career never took off the way some expected when he announced himself with a hat-trick on debut. Injuries were a major reason for that. When he retired, Christian Ryan wrote of Fleming, "Fleming injured body parts that sounded more like pasta dishes. A strained patella here, a swollen rotator cuff there. Then maybe a stiff neck for variety, or a broken finger, or a bout of knee tendinitis. Fleming had 'em all."
Nathan Bracken
Debuted at 24 years
Last international at 32
Played 5 Tests, 118 ODIs
Nathan Bracken was injured before he could even make his Test debut. He was in Australia's touring squad for the 2001 Ashes, but had to go home midway due to a shoulder injury. He became a regular in the one-day squad, but then had to undergo knee surgery. His knee was in such bad shape, the doctor said that during the surgery the cartilage came off like "old paint peeling off a wall". Despite that, Bracken managed a comeback in limited-overs cricket and even became the No.1-ranked ODI bowler in the world. He had to reduce his pace significantly and bowled with the wicketkeeper standing up to the stumps, relying on cutters and slower balls to restrict the batsmen and take wickets. A recurrence of his knee problems forced him to retire early.
Shaun Tait
Debuted at 22 years
Last international at 32 years
Games: 3 Tests, 35 ODIs, 21 T20Is
Shaun Tait is one of the quickest bowlers to have played the game and bowled the second fastest recorded ball ever when he sent one down at 161.1kph in a 2010 ODI against England. But the quest for speed and a slingy, shoulder-heavy action took its toll on Tait's body. Having played just three Tests, he quit the longer format when he was just 25. After further injuries, he retired from ODIs at 28 and focused just on Twenty20 cricket for the rest of his career.
Mitchell Starc
Debuted at 20 years
Still active
Games: 36 Test, 68 ODIs, 22 T20Is
At just 27, Mitchell Starc is already being wrapped in cotton wool by Cricket Australia, rested from even series as high profile as one in India so that he can be fit for the Ashes. A list of his injuries provides explanation for the board's caution. In his short career, Starc has injured almost every part of his right leg, his left knee and shin and sustained a stress fracture in his back. He's been out for extended spells, the longest one being six months in 2015-16, when he underwent a second surgery on his right ankle.
James Pattinson
Debuted at 20 years
Still active
Games: 17 Tests, 15 ODIs, 4 T20Is
In 2011, Australia fans had reason to feel optimistic, with Pat Cummins and James Pattinson both debuting and looking like they would form a dangerous pace attack in the ears to come. But Pattinson picked up serious injuries at an early age. In his short career, he has already spent 38 months out with injuries. A recurrence of chronic back problems ruled him out of the 2017-18 Ashes, and he only returned to playing first-class cricket this November.
Pat Cummins
Debuted at 18 years
Still active
Games: 5 Tests, 36 ODIs, 18 T20Is
Anyone who watched Pat Cummins' Test debut, against South Africa in 2011, would never have expected that seven years later, he would have played just 14 Tests. Cummins had pace and the ability to get seam movement at a young age, but injuries to his foot and back kept him out for long spells, and he did not play a second Test till 2017, when he made what he called his "second debut". Australia were, understandably, cautious in ushering Cummins back to international cricket after his early injuries, only considering him for limited-overs games until the India tour in 2017. Since that tour, Cummins has had another back injury, which kept him out of a Test series against Pakistan in the UAE in 2018.
John Hastings Debuted at 24 years
Retired from Tests and ODIs, active on the T20 circuit
Games: 1 Test, 29 ODIs, 9 T20Is
John Wayne "Duke" Hastings started off on the Australian domestic circuit as a 24-year-old, burly fast bowler with an ability to contribute with handy lower-order runs. Hastings was not an express quick like a number of others on this list, but suffered a spate of injuries as his career progressed. Debuts for Australia in both ODIs and T20Is were followed by a serious shoulder injury that ruled him out of the entire 2011-12 season, after which he took to the county circuit, representing Durham and Worcestershire. His purple patch at the international level came in 2016, when his 29 wickets from 15 ODIs made him the top wicket-taker among pace bowlers for the year. A back injury in early 2017 led to his decision to retire from both first-class and List A cricket, and he joined a growing band of cricketers who ply their trade as T20 professionals in franchise competitions around the world. In 2018, a mystery lung condition led to his retirement from all forms of cricket.