Many others might have, but Mark Gillespie never stopped believing he'd play for New Zealand again. Even as a series of medical experts advised him to head for the commentary box.
"It's why I play, otherwise I would have packed it in when the five doctors I saw told me I shouldn't be playing any more," Gillespie said last night after he marked his test comeback with career-best figures of 5-59, in his fourth test.
His third was more than three years ago, against the West Indies in Dunedin in December 2008. Soon afterwards, his aching back cried enough, other ailments crept in and left him mulling his future for much of the next two years.
The sight of Gillespie walking endless slow laps of the Basin Reserve as his Wellington team-mates trained before the 2010-11 season didn't bode well. Despite the gloomy tidings, he pushed on.
"I was just in a lot of pain and couldn't bowl and then got to the point when I just thought `stuff it, I'm just going to give it a crack'. I've bowled in pain my whole life so why not just keep doing it?
"So after a while I just gave it heaps, pushed through the pain, and then my thigh fell apart, twice.
"It was two years I was out and obviously over that time you see a lot of different doctors and the signs weren't that good."
Finally, after a sluggish first half of this season, the 32-year-old was fit and firing, taking 25 wickets at 20.88 in his last four Plunket Shield matches. He was bowling fast, and frightening a few decent domestic batsmen. When Tim Southee was dropped, the surprise call arrived from John Wright.
Gillespie debuted in South Africa in November 2007, taking 5-136. That career-best was finally wiped yesterday at Seddon Park. He snared the great Jacques Kallis as one of his victims but wasn't carving any names into the dressing room walls.
"I don't really care who I get out just so long as I get wickets. You're contributing to the team."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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