He might be too young to be au fait with Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, but the good news for Scottish cricket is that Josh Davey’s on the road again to recovery, following a winter of injury frustration for the mercurial all-rounder, who is patiently climbing up the multi-national ladder at Middlesex.
When the 21 year-old had a knee operation last October, he expected to be involved in Scotland’s hectic schedule against the UAE and the ICC World T20 qualifying competition, but, despite his best efforts, Davey had to withdraw from the latter event and there is little doubt that his absence was one of the reasons why Pete Steindl’s team only finished fifth in the standings.
Yet what was more frustrating for the player himself was that, try as he might, he couldn’t shake off the problem.
“I am still recovering, I am doing rehab, and I have another week to go, before I can hopefully think about returning to action, but it was massively disappointing to miss out on the qualifying competition, because you always dream of playing in a World Cup, and I would have loved to have been able to take part in the matches [in Dubai]”, said Davey, who has shone with bat and ball on several occasions with the Saltires and Scotland, and is clearly benefiting from working with a vibrant group at Lords’ on a daily basis.
“I had to fly home before the T20 tournament, because I wasn’t able to perform at anywhere near 100% [in the matches against the UAE] and I sat down with Pete and we both decided that I needed to get things sorted out for the new season, so it was time for another injection, a return to Britain, and more surgery and rehabilitation.
“On a positive note, Middlesex have been excellent and they have done lots to help me. I have been working with two physios, a strength and conditioning coach, and a batting and bowling coach, so they have offered me every possible support, and that is one of the pluses of being a full-time cricketer. But, to be honest, what started out as a small operation for something fairly minor has become a bit of a nightmare. It wouldn’t affect somebody who wasn’t playing sport, day in, day out, but obviously, I want to be doing my best in every aspect of the game and it was a blow when I had to sit on the sidelines during the T20 event, and especially when others [such as Gordon Goudie, Gordon Drummond and Safyaan Sharif] were also ruled out with a variety of knocks.”
The repercussions of the Scots’ failure to reach the T20 global showpiece in Sri Lanka cannot be overstated, particularly with Ireland progressing to another high-profile challenge and Davey has been able to watch the development of the dynamic Paul Stirling at close quarters, whilst Tim Murtagh has also recently joined the Irish ranks. However, despite his anguish at missing out on the opportunity to parade his skills in the short format of the sport, Davey is far from being one of life’s natural-born pessimists. On the contrary, whether talking about the seam of precocious talent which is breaking into the Scotland ranks, from Sharif and Matty Parker to Ali Evans and Oli Hairs, or accentuating the promise of the country’s U-19 ensemble, Davey believes the future is bright and is patently champing at the bit to be involved in the 2012 CB 40 campaign, even if he isn’t sure at this stage whether it will be with Middlesex or the Saltires.
“We had a good balance to the side last year and I think that was why we achieved some really good results as the summer progressed, so it was disappointing that the squad suffered so much disruption in Dubai, but it hasn’t shaken my belief that we are moving in the right direction and the next step is for us to begin winning more of the matches against the counties, because we came close a few times last summer,” said Davey.
“I am not too fussed who I play for in the Pro 40: if it’s Scotland, I will probably have a bigger role, but I am also ambitious to force my way into the Middlesex first team, and make big scores and produce important contributions on a regular basis. The main thing is that I return to playing cricket again as soon as I can, because there is nothing more frustrating than watching everybody else getting their seasons started.”
Davey insists he is thriving on the fierce competition for places at Lord’s. He is also persuasive in arguing that the Scots are still on an upward curve. But ultimately, he is as aware as anybody else that all that matters in professional sport is results and you can’t influence them in the physio’s room.
One suspects that when he eventually re-emerges into the spotlight, he could make a few opponents pay with his pent-up aggression.