Holly Ferling

At Middle Stump - with Holly Ferling: The frustrations of injury

09 Oct 2014

It has been too long since I last wrote my blog – and much has happened in that time! 

Plenty of good things have come my way with an ambassadorial role with Spartan, launching the first range of female cricket gear ever. I have also had many experiences in this time, including being given the opportunity to commentate on the Southern Stars tour against Pakistan last month. I loved every second of my commentating experience however there was one down side – not being able to run out the with the rest of the Southern Stars girls. So I guess it seems fitting to give an injury update as well as detail my progress and my thoughts along the way.

For those of you who don’t know, I was diagnosed with stress fractures to my left lower back (L4 to be exact). It was an injury I was not expecting, as I didn’t have any symptoms at the time. We were actually getting a scan to try and pin point some other neural symptoms I had throughout the season – however the result of the scan showed everything was fine in that department, yet completely wrong in the lower back department. 

I am sure many cricket fans will know that stress fractures are common amongst fast bowlers; Mitch Johnson, Brett Lee, Ryan Harris, Mitch Starc, the list is endless. However I am one of the first females to receive a stress fracture to my back which, to me, was quite shocking. My rehab timelines kept getting adjusted as we learnt more about the injury. Within a week, my rehab time had jumped from 8 weeks to 23 weeks.  That right there was the toughest part of this – the realisation I would not play cricket for at least 6 months. It hit me quite hard because I have had a number of good things happen in a row (World Cup wins, Ashes tours), and all of a sudden everything came to a grinding halt. It’s hard to work out how long 6 months is – right at the start, it seems forever. However I had a good chat with former Southern Stars captain Jodie Fields about her previous injuries. For those who don’t know, she tore her hamstring off the bone twice and is still to this day playing for Queensland. Her advice was this: take it week by week and focus only on what you are allowed to do in that week. At the time I didn’t realise how helpful this advice would become. 

So then started my rehab period. I wasn’t allowed to run for 12 weeks, meaning I couldn’t play my off season sport of netball which I was devastated about. I was able to only ride a bike and do clinical pilates on a reformer. This was the start of a monotonous few months. I was lucky enough to have a good team of physios and coaches that were keen to help. In my first meeting with the physios, I told them I needed a big sheet of paper, a timeline, so I could tick off the sessions, days, weeks and months so that I could physically see an end date. I was very particular about my rehab – I wanted to do everything perfectly, so there was no reason for anything to go wrong. Weeks started to transpire, and by about the 14th week, I was being introduced to more activities like gym work, a little bit of running and some very basic batting. I felt like the weeks were going quicker as the Queensland Fire had started their pre season, and while I wasn’t doing their sessions, I was around people which was what I needed. My goal for return had been set – I was to play in the first round of our domestic season.

I have had countless scans to track how my back was healing. I only really had one hiccup. My back was healing which was great news (there was a chance that the crack in my vertebrae would stay and never heal). However it wasn’t healing at the rate that they were expecting. This delayed my return to bowling by a few weeks than what we planned. I was very disappointed considering I had ticked all the boxes and was just so keen to put the spikes on, get the ball in my hand and bowl. However I saw a silver lining – it meant I could continue to work really hard on my batting as well as get even stronger before I bowl.

My first bowling session was 12 balls off a 2 step run up. I still remember my first ball – it went straight into the net on the off side. Not the start I wanted exactly, but hey, I hadn’t bowled a ball in ages. The rest of that session was pretty good I’ll admit. I was feeling stronger at the crease which made me wonder how fast I could bowl when the time came to come in off my long run up.  

Each week I had new targets. I was able to bowl off half a run up, then a full run up at 70%, then 80%, 90% and now I am pretty much at full pace, the way I like to bowl – fast! I honestly feel like the ball is coming out quicker. I feel strong and ready to go – which is a frustrating feeling at the moment due to not being allowed to play yet. Despite bowling off a full run, there is still plenty that needs to fall into place. I had to have one last scan last week and if anything sinister showed up, I was to be cut back from my bowling. Fortunately the scan was perfect! Another box to tick is a 3D bowling analysis next week to double check my action. While the physios and coaches believe that my injury was brought on by changes in workloads, we still want to rule out everything so we can get to the source of the problem. And that brings me to the final box that I have to tick – to get my workloads high, and to maintain this high workload of bowling. This way I am conditioned to bowl lots of overs without putting too much strain on myself.

This weekend I will be hurting that’s for sure -  I have missed my initial goal to return. The Queensland Fire head to Perth this weekend, and I will be here in Brisbane, following every ball online. The next goal is to play in 2 weeks time against NSW, and I have no doubt that I will be given the green light by the medical staff to pull on the Maroon.

My Mum told me once that ‘everything happens for a reason.’ While injury is horrible, the key is to learn something, to take something out of it. I have used my time to become even more hungry to wear the Green and Gold or the Maroon, but also to get stronger, fitter and better than what I was before. 

There’s no doubt that I’m keen for this season!