Crook's frustration is over at just the right time for Northamptonshire
Northamptonshire all-rounder Steven Crook admits his first steps back into cricket action have been tentative ones.
The 32-year-old is one of several County players to have missed the start of the season through injury.
A muscle injury in his chest meant he was unable to take part in any of the first three County Championship matches but he did make his return in the rain-affected game against Leicestershire at Grace Road.
It was thought he would only be used as a batsman but he ended up bowling nine overs in the hosts’ first innings suggesting his recovery is further along than initially thought.
Not that Crook himself is getting too far ahead of himself.
“It’s coming along nicely but I’m just easing myself back in,” he explained.
“To come back from a pretty bad tear of the pec you have to be careful.
“It’s quite hard for me to do that.
“It’s difficult for me to hold back because I’m one of those guys that wants to go full on at it.
“But I’m pleased with the progress and I will hopefully just keep building it up over the next few weeks.
“It was nice to get a bowl and I thought it came out pretty well.
“We were playing four other seamers in this game so my role was just to give those guys a rest when they needed it.
“It was good to get some overs under the belt and it is another step towards being fully fit.”
It is a good time for Crook – and colleagues like Rob Keogh, Olly Stone and Rob Newton – to become available again.
Another Championship match starts on Sunday when Kent visit the County Ground.
But, after that, their next engagement comes in the first round of NatWest Blast T20 matches the following Friday.
It is a format Crook is looking forward to and one in which he will play a prominent role.
His return could not be timed better.
“Obviously to miss any cricket is frustrating but that’s especially true at the start of the season,” he said.
“You spend your whole winter in the indoor school getting fit and then you miss out when the games start.
“But it’s good to be back in time for the T20.
“I love the format – I love all white-ball cricket – and I can’t wait for it to start.
“I’ll have to be a little careful with the injury but we’ve got a lot of guys coming back to fitness at the right time.
“You need people available because T20 now affects the four-day game and the four-day affects the T20 when it comes to selection.
“It’s a good time to be coming back and I’m really excited about it.
“We’ve had a good run in the competition over the last few years so the whole squad is geared up for it and buzzing for it to start.
“It’s an exciting time to be involved and I think we’re in a good place.
“I’m positive about where we are as a team and where I am as an individual.”