Ashton Turner feared the worst on Boxing Day when he re-injured his shoulder playing for the Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash.
The 26-year-old had already undergone three shoulder operations and it seemed a fourth was inevitable.
Thankfully, after a lengthy consultation with his surgeon Turner received some good news – he could prolong the operation and pursue playing rest of the summer.
However, it would only be as a batsman. Turner had gone from a multi-skilled player to a one-dimensional cricketer.
Despite his limitations, Turner would still make his ODI debut for Australia in March as a front-line batsman, but ultimately his inability to bowl cost him a place in 15-man World Cup squad.
“I do understand I’m a little bit limited with my shoulder and that probably played a part in my omission,” Turner said in Jaipur, where he is playing for the Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League.
“Potentially not being able to bowl probably cost me an opportunity to play a few more games before they had to select the team.”
While he is disappointed to have missed out on the World Cup, he is keeping things in perspective given where he has come from with injury.
“On Boxing Day when I re-injured my shoulder, I thought that my season was over and I was going straight into surgery and wouldn’t play another game for months.
“The fact I was able to keep playing the Big Bash and still be on the selector’s radar as a batter was a surprise to me. Then to pick me in the ODI squad and then to give me the opportunity to play a few games, probably exceeded my expectations.”
Turner announced himself on the international stage with a stunning knock of 84 no from 43 balls in his second match to help Australia accomplish its highest ever run-chase in the 50-over game. It was a performance that catapulted him into World Cup discussion.
But despite his heroics, Turner found it impossible to win a place in the playing XI during the five-match series against Pakistan that followed immediately.
“The conversation with the selectors around the Pakistan series didn’t need to be a long,” he said.
“I came in for my debut series in India because Shaun Marsh was in Perth for the birth of his child and my games in India were because Marcus Stoinis had a broken thumb, so I knew they were going to bring Marsh back into the team.
“When we try to bring back one really good player it means someone is going to lose their spot and it was a case where everyone in the team was playing really well and I was the one that missed out.”
Asked if he had lost any hopes of being part of the 15-man squad after not featuring in the Pakistan series, Turner said: “I didn’t know until I got the call from Trevor Hohns advising that I wasn’t in the squad. I suppose not playing in the Pakistan series was in hindsight probably an indicator.
“It is still really disappointing. It is the showcase event for cricket.”
Cricket: David Warner has enjoyed a stellar IPL series with the Sunrisers Hyderabad, hitting a massive 21 sixes across the tournament – and here they all are back to back.
Every David Warner IPL six
Turner has struggled to transform his BBL form into the IPL but has had the luxury of spending plenty of time with his fellow countryman and Rajasthan Royals teammate Steve Smith.
(We’ve) been in a hotel room for close to a month now, we have spent a lot of time together. For me, Steve is one guy that loves hitting balls in the nets more than anyone that I have met before,” Turner said.
“I have found myself standing behind the net watching him bat for long periods of time. I don’t need to ask him questions to watch how he goes about it; every time you just get a few pointers by observing.
“His professionalism and just watching the world’s best batsmen go about their preparations is like gold for someone like me who is just starting my international career.”
Turner is rated as one of the best finishers in the limited overs format and when quizzed about the measures he takes to ensure success, the talented middle-order batsman pinned it on his meticulous planning.
“For me, I do a lot of preparations away from the game and I know what shots I can play, what shots I can’t play, of which type of bowlers and when you get to the game, you trust those skills and then make up your mind.
“There are so many other factors – boundary sizes, to how well you are seeing the ball on the day to how good the wicket is – you don’t have a long time to work it out, but it is the amount of time you put in behind the scenes that really need to be strong to be able to make sure you get it right on the day.”