Eastlake bowler Nick Winter. Photo: Graham Tidy
A broken knuckle almost ended Nick Winter's cricket dreams but the Canberra fast-bowler says it's his turn to cause havoc and his Prime Minister's XI teammates are in his sights.
The only problem is the Eastlake opener needs to avoid the injury curse on Saturday that has haunted him for the past two years before he can join childhood hero Ricky Ponting for the PM's XI match against the West Indies on Tuesday.
Winter will attempt to lead Eastlake to victory against Ginninderra at Kingston Oval in the Cricket ACT first grade competition.
But less than a year after fearing a freak injury would ruin his career hopes, getting through unscathed is an achievement in itself.
The teenager's boom rise was put on hold when a caught-and-bowled attempt went horribly wrong while playing for the ACT Comets last year. The bone in his left middle finger was so badly damaged surgeons had to cut out his knuckle and replace it with a fake one. When he first saw the scar, he almost fainted. And when doctors told him it could ruin his cricket aspirations, Winter was devastated.
A year earlier he missed the national under-19s championship because he fractured his cheek while trying to catch a ball in a warm-up session.
But his recovery, plenty of wickets in Canberra and a chance to sit in the Manuka Oval change rooms with Brad Haddin and Ponting has the opening bowler oozing excitement.
''The finger injury ruled me out of the under-19s World Cup and it was a massive blow psychologically,'' Winter said. ''It dented my confidence a fair bit. To be able to move on and to get this has really helped me.
''It hit me when the NSW doctor told me it could be a cricket-changing injury and it brought a few tears to my eyes … I thought it could all be over. ''Not many boys get this special opportunity and to come back from something like that makes it all the more special.''
The problem is he's 12th man and will only get a chance to play a major role in the Manuka Oval contest if there's a last-minute injury or withdrawal.
Winter's call up as 12th man comes off the back of his scintillating form for the ACT under-19s team and Eastlake. He destroyed Ginninderra last weekend with a seven-wicket haul across two innings to put Eastlake in a commanding position on day two of their clash at Kingston Oval. And he is still beaming after claiming 19 wickets at an average of 12 at the national under-19 championships in South Australia earlier this month.
''I'll see what I can do [in the nets], hopefully I'll take out a few of the bowlers and maybe I'll get a run,'' Winter joked. ''My mum said she might try to take one of them out during the warm-up so we'll see what happens. It would be one of my dreams to be out there [under lights], but I'll be running water bottles or doing whatever I can. I'm going to take this opportunity with both hands.''