Ben Twohig has revealed his initial ambition for 2020 – “to be selectable for the first game of the season” – as he prepares to launch his playing comeback Down Under playing grade cricket.
The Worcestershire CCC spinner missed the entire 2019 campaign after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury during pre-season.
It meant Twohig was unable to build on his first team breakthrough of 2018 when he played seven Specsavers County Championship matches.
But the 21-year-old player is determined to be ready for next April if needed to be called upon.
His long term aim is to become a genuine all-rounder, someone who is capable enough to be picked for his ability in one or both skill sets.
But in the immediate future Twohig is to undertake a second spell with Adelaide-based side Southern Districts who are coached by former West Indies batsman and spinner Carl Hooper.
Twohig said: “The aim is to be selectable for the first game of next season. Whether that suits the team selection, or the pitch we are playing on, I’ve just got to put myself in that frame where the coaches are thinking ‘well, we can pick him if we need him.’
“That’s a goal from now on in, to be in the picture and be bowling well enough to be picked whenever needed.
“If Mo (Moeen Ali) is not around and we’re going to need a spinner, I’ve got to be bowling well enough all summer to be in when I need to be in.
“Did I take confidence from the games in 2018? “That would have been two seasons ago from if I play again next year – and you learn a lot in two seasons even if I haven’t played.
“But from watching cricket, and being out of it, you probably learn more than when you are in it sometimes.
“I do feel a lot more like a solid player whereas before it was new and fresh and trying to figure out whether you were good enough to play at this level.
“You take confidence from past experiences.”
Twohig admits there were differences from Second Eleven cricket that he had to come to terms with after breaking into the team.
He said: “It was hard. It is so different to second team cricket. If you bowl three maidens in a row, they don’t chip it up and try and score.
“They will just run down the track and try and nudge it for one. You’ve got to build it (the pressure) again and again and again and a lot of the time I was bowling at good cricketers, Test cricketers sometimes, on good tracks in Division One. It is hard when you are aged 19, 20.
“I remember the last game of that season at Essex and I was bowling at Murali Vijay and he came down the track first ball and hit me over extra cover for six.
“I was thinking ‘this is going to be tough!’ – and he the next ball went back over my head.
“He was not going to let me settle which, in a way, was a nice thing because he knows if he hits me out of the attack, he has not got a threat (to face). You don’t take it that way when you are in the action. You just think he can hit me anywhere.
“It will be good to get back out there. I am just raring to go now.”
Twohig is also aiming to try and force his way into contention in white ball cricket where spin now plays a crucial role.
He said: “I just want to be involved in all three formats and be a crucial player.
“I want to be a genuine all-rounder. I want to get picked in the top six as a batter if I’m not bowling and vice-versa.
“That’s the long term goal and I don’t see why I couldn’t do that.”
He feels his initial spell with Southern Districts last winter enhanced his batting.
Twohig said: “My batting has come on leaps and bounds since last year. Australia helped me a lot.
“You just get time to bat on good pitches and a lot of time to practice and figure out what you are actually good at.
“I batted at number three or four in a grade ‘A’ side and didn’t do too badly. I got a couple of half centuries and averaged about 40 in the end.”
Twohig has been back bowling and batting for the past couple of months after spending the bulk of the summer undergoing rehab.
He said: “I think what actually helped in a way was that for the first two months I literally couldn’t walk so I was not really missing out on anything.
“I was at home for a lot of the time with my mum and dad. I was out of the picture but in a nice way.
“It was harder when I got back walking and I was in for rehab every day and in and around the lads.
“I tried to keep as much as you can do in the dressing room without being annoying. You want to keep that relationship with your mates.
“If I could say something after a bad day which just picks them up…..I just tried to be involved.
“It was hard because I couldn’t really walk and could hardly get up the steps of the pavilion but I was thinking about needing to get back and start playing.”
“Did it help being a bubbly character? “If I’m firing and on form personally, it does help to pick a lot of people up and I would say I’m quite a leader.
“But it was different in that a lot of energy that I had was not getting used.”
Twohig tried to keep himself occupied during the long spell when he was unable to bat or bowl.
He said: “I actually painted a few houses. I painted George Rhodes’ house. I’ve done that sort of thing before with my brother.
“I watched live music like Two Door Cinema Club.
“I couldn’t sit there and feel sorry for myself and I trained really hard to get fit but I also made the most of the time when I couldn’t play.”
Twohig is indebted to the help he received from Head Of Sports Science and Medicine, Ben Davies, assistant physio Ali McKenzie and Strengthening and Conditioning Coach, Ross Dewar.
He said: “They were fantastic. Ben wrote out a plan and then I performed it with Ross and Ali.
“They keep your spirits up and they understand with such a severe injury that a lot of the time you are treating the person as much as the injury
“Don’t get me wrong, you have some down days and it’s a long hill you are climbing but they are very helpful and flexible with things.”
Twohig was born in Dewsbury hospital but hails from nearby village Birstall where he played for the local cricket club as a junior up until the age of 13 when he was awarded a Chesterton Scholarship to attend Malvern College.