Jason Behrendorff said his five-wicket haul in Australia’s World Cup victory against England was a dream come true after years of battling back injuries that he feared could end his career.
The left-arm seamer was diagnosed with a stress fracture in early 2015 and back problems have persisted since then.
He put his first-class career on hold over the Australian summer, easing back into action via the limited-over format and still has hopes of breaking into the Test team.
But for now Tuesday’s World Cup success at Lord’s, the spiritual home of cricket, has made his lengthy battles against injury worthwhile.
In just his second World Cup match, the 29-year-old bowled Australia into the semi-finals with superb figures of 5-44 from his 10 overs against England.
“Some days during all the rehab periods you think ‘am I going to get back?'" Behrendorff said after Australia dismissed England for 221 in reply to their 285-7, to win by 64 runs.
“It’s one of those things you dream of as a kid, to play cricket for Australia and to come here at Lord’s to get five wickets. Not quite sure if it’s sunk in yet, to be honest, but it’s something I will treasure.
“You don’t play cricket for the accolades but to take five wickets here is something special."
Behrendorff only made his One-Day international debut for Australia in January, taking two wickets against India in Sydney.
Yet, in his eighth ODI appearance, the fast-medium bowler enjoyed the best day of his short Australia career as he recorded his first five-wicket ODI haul in front of a 28,000-capacity crowd and a watching audience of millions around the world.
The World Cup stage is a far cry from those gruelling hours spent alone during his lengthy rehabilitation periods.
But Behrendorff said he was just relieved to have repaid the faith of captain Aaron Finch and the selectors.
“That’s where I guess one of my primary strengths lies, bowling up front, swinging with the new ball. So it was great to be given that opportunity to be able select, as well, with the wicket early doors. That was really important, as well, so I was happy with that," he said.
- ‘Foot on the throat’ -
Behrendorff only previous World Cup appearance produced a far less memorable 1-59 against Sri Lanka earlier in this year’s event.
“It was huge to repay the selectors," he said. “When you get off to a good start, you get your foot on the throat and you don’t want to let it off. We continued to do that throughout the innings."
Behrendorff also praised fellow Australia pacemen Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins for guiding him through his first experience of a big occasion at Lord’s.
“Mitch and Pat have played a lot of one-day cricket. To be able to chat to them about how they go about it, especially in the middle overs, how to get wickets, that’s really valuable," he said.
“We made an effort to pitch it up and hit the stumps as much as possible. We noted it was something England didn’t do. "
Holders Australia, through to the semi-finals after their sixth win from seven matches, are once again peaking nicely ahead of the knockout stages.
Australia have won the World Cup in four of the past five editions, but Behrendorff is adamant they are not favourites.
“No I don’t think so," he said. “The competition is still very open. England are still a great side, probably still the favourites as the home country.
“For sure, momentum is a big thing in tournament play. Hopefully we can win the last two games and go into the semis with some real momentum."