The worst chapter of a bowler is when he suffers back-to-back injuries. Not his poor figures or going wicket-less on the day. Same has been the case for Ben Wheeler, who is setting his ‘wheels’ on the road in the first gear to make a decent comeback after struggling to spend enough time on the field.
On January 3 in Napier, the 25-year-old fast bowler finally returned to international cricket when he made his T20I debut against Bangladesh to see his side win the match by six wickets after New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson scored an unbeaten 73 runs off 55 balls.
The left-arm bowler Wheeler stayed away from cricket for over five months during many setbacks following several ailments and treatments which included a back injury.
“It’d been a long wait. I got a taste of it with two overseas tours and then to sit pretty much the whole season out with a back injury, and come back and still not be right was tough,” said Wheeler.
Excited to play in front of the home crowd, Wheeler received his T20 cap along with right-handed batsman Tom Bruce and fast-bowler Lockie Ferguson, who picked up three wickets on debut.
“Lockie was on fire when he got the ball in his hand and there was just a really good atmosphere out there. The pitch was really good and probably suited us with a bit of pace and bounce in it,” Wheeled said on Ferguson.
Wheeler, who seems happy with his outing in T20 game, calls it a ‘learning curve’ to shape up things well for the future. He sent down four overs and bagged two wickets after conceding 22 runs.
“It was really cool, nice to have a home crowd behind you. It swung at the start and it was nice to get those early wickets. It was pretty cool to get that wicket with Brucie. We’re pretty good mates and for him to take that probably would have settled his nerves … it’s pretty cool to have that in the wicket column,” Wheeler added.
In 2015, Blenheim-born Wheeler appeared in six One-day Internationals for Black Caps.
“There were a few nerves, I’d be lying if I said there weren’t. The guys put some good confidence in me though and basically just said go and do my thing. It was nice when that first ball swung quite a bit and I was able to work into it from there,” Wheeler concluded.
In his six ODIs for the Kiwis, Wheeler has taken eight wickets at an economy of 6.11. He made his ODI debut against England at Southampton in June 2015.