MELBOURNE, (Reuters) – A dreadful run of injuries prompted Australia fast bowler Nathan Coulter-Nile to consider packing in first class cricket to become a Twenty20 gun-for-hire but after a welcome return to fitness the 29-year-old is now eyeing a test berth.
The Western Australian made an encouraging return in Australia’s series-opening one-day international defeat by India in Chennai, tearing through the hosts’ formidable top order to capture 3-44.
It was Coulter-Nile’s first taste of international cricket since playing the tri-series final in the Caribbean in June, with his entire home summer wiped out by a bone stress injury in his lower back.
He was cut from the national contracts list in April and left wondering whether his Australia career was over.
“There were definitely periods where I wondered if I was ever going to play for Australia again,” Coulter-Nile told Cricket Australia’s website (cricket.com.au).
“I was always confident I could play for WA (Western Australia) and get through a domestic season.
“That’s a lot easier than the rigours and travel of playing for Australia. But it’s yet to be seen if I can get through an Aussie tour yet.
“I thought long and hard about (giving up first-class cricket) and I ended up trying to give it another crack.
“After talking to (WA coach) JL (Justin Langer) and a few blokes, I think it’d just be mad to give up the dream at 29.”
Injuries have limited Coulter-Nile to 17 ODIs and the same number of T20 internationals and frustrated his few chances to break into Australia’s formidable pace battery in test cricket.
His chance to bowl in India has only come through injuries to frontline seamers Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and James Pattinson, who are recovering for the home Ashes series starting in November.
But Coulter-Nile is mindful how quickly fortunes can turn, having missed out on a Boxing Day test debut in 2015 due to a dislocated shoulder.
“I’m up near with them, but I’m not up with them,” he said of Australia’s first-choice pacemen Starc, Hazlewood, Pattinson and Pat Cummins.
“But it’s the nature of cricket that those blokes aren’t fit all the time … which is why I’ve got the chance here.
“I’ve just got to be fit at the right time to get a break, I guess.”