After four shoulder reconstructions in five years, former Australia quick Lauren Cheatle has two motivations for believing she can return to her best.
Her youth, and a healthy dose of perspective.
Once NSW’s youngest ever contracted player and an Australian debutante at age 17, Cheatle’s career has since been battered by injuries.
Shoulder and back problems have stopped the left-armer adding to her 11 games for Australia since 2019, with her most recent surgery in December again ending her summer early.
In its place, Cheatle has taken up a part-time job as a support worker with children living with disabilities in recent years, while also studying international politics.
“I’m a horrible watcher of cricket,” the 23-year-old told AAP.
“So trying to keep my mind ticking over is really important for me.
“Work and study gave me a little distraction, but also a little perspective which I think I needed.
“I rock up to work and see what these kids and families are going through, and I realise me missing a little game of cricket really isn’t that bad.”
Cheatle largely thanks her regular off-field work with maintaining her spirits, taking children to arcades, beaches, pools, bush walks and out for coffee multiple days a week.
She is learning to merge her loves, spending recent months planning a cricket clinic for those living with a disability in Woolooware on Wednesday, while still managing her own recovery.
“It puts a couple of months on the sideline in the perspective of my career and what I want to do after as pretty small,” Cheatle said.
“I know we’re meant to service these kids but they do a lot for us as well.”
Cheatle is not yet ready for life without cricket, insisting her nightmare run will end.
She is hopeful of returning for the start of next summer, and takes heart from the likes Pat Cummins who have got their bodies right later in their careers.
“I am 23, so hopefully a few more years ahead,” Cheatle said.
“All I want to be doing is playing cricket and everything that can get me there I am trying to do.
“But there is no barrier other than a little rehab journey right now.
“You get to 25 or 26, and then your body matures with the workloads. It happens in the men’s game as well.”