Six months ago, ACT Meteors bowler Zoe Cooke couldn't feel her legs and was told to rethink her cricket career.
Cooke had a bulging disc in L4/5, a vertebrae in the lower back, forcing her to take a break from cricket to have a microdiscectomy - a surgery where the disc is shaved back and cleaned of loose fragments.
The protrusion pushed on her nerves to the points where it gave her pins and needles, and sometimes she lost feeling in her legs.
She returned to training three months after the procedure and is now gearing up for her second match of the WNCL season, with the Meteors to meet Victoria at Blacktown International Sports Park on Sunday.
"None of it was fun," Cooke said.
"The surgeon actually told me that I should start to think of a new career because I'm a pace bowler, and that's probably the worst thing I can do for my back.
"At the start of the whole episode, I didn't think I'd ever get back to playing at this level. So to be back this season is pretty unreal."
Cooke, 26, returned to action in the Meteors' seven wicket loss to the South Australian Scorpions earlier this month, bowling 10 straight overs to start their innings.
She took 1/27 at an economy rate of 2.7, ending Josephine Dooley's time at the crease with six runs.
Meteors captain Angela Reakes was proud of Cooke's performance, saying she still gets goosebumps thinking about her return.
"It was amazing, when she had her surgery last year she didn't expect to play this season. With the changes of COVID-19, she ended up with some game time last week," Reakes said.
"That girl has worked so hard and she's a product of Canberra cricket, we're really proud of what she's done and just the way she came back and bowled 10 overs straight. That was exceptional."
The Meteors raised $10,728 in the Lifeline Community Round, with Cooke donating a third of her match pay towards the initiative.
"It meant so much to be back out on the field. With the help of a psychologist, I was able to understand what it's like to go through something where you think your career is potentially over," Cooke said.
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"To have that help through June and July, it meant so much to not just be out there in the team but to go out and play - that I could pass on a little bit of help.
"I probably wouldn't have been able to get back if I didn't have that support around me, which I think is so important. If we, as a group, can help someone else out like that it's pretty special."
Cooke and the Meteors will now turn their focus to second-placed Victoria, who boast the likes of Australian captain Meg Lanning, Ellyse Perry, and Annabel Sutherland.
"We can challenge Victoria but we just have to play our best cricket," Cooke said.
"The last few games we haven't really done that, we haven't put together a full performance but this week at training we've nailed everything that we've been doing.
"The batters have been batting well, Kate Mack is coming off 100. We just need to play our best cricket and we're definitely in the contest."
WNCL Match 10
Sunday: Victoria v ACT Meteors at Blacktown International Sports Park, 10am
Meteors team list: Angela Reakes, Erica Kershaw, Rebecca Carter, Zoe Cooke, Nicola Hancock, Carly Leeson, Katie Mack, Erin Osbourne, Madeline Penna, Olivia Porter, Chloe Rafferty, Amy Yates.