Kent bowler Griffiths hopes to beat injury demons
At the age of 29 England and Yorkshire bowler Tim Bresnan had made over 450 appearances for his county.
For Surrey wicket-keeper Steven Davies this figure is 410.
Stuart Broad, despite being a regular in the England set-up since making his international debut in 2006, has played almost 350 county games before turning 30.
Kent bowler David Griffiths, in contrary, has played just 80 games of county cricket since signing his first professional contract for Hampshire in 2005.
This statistic is not a reflection on Griffiths’ ability – the 29-year-old previously claimed England Under-19 honours and has troubled many county batting line-ups with his raw pace – but an indication of a career desperately marred by reoccurring and frequent injuries.
“I’ve probably suffered most injuries you can think of,” Griffiths acknowledges with an ironic smirk.
The bowler’s injury problems can be traced back to 2005 when, just months after putting pen to paper on a one-year deal with Hants, a stress fracture of the back ruled him out for the summer. It was not until 2009 that Griffiths forced his way back into a team which was blossoming with an enviable bowling attack which included England international Chris Tremlett, South African spinner Imran Tahir and New Zealand quick Shane Bond.
This initial setback was perhaps the hardest to take for the Isle of White bowler. It occurred at a pinnacle point in his career and pegged his game back by several seasons. Moreover, crucially, it signalled the start of things to come – of a bowler constantly battling not only opponents but also his body.
“I do sometimes think what might have happened if I didn’t pick up these injuries,” he admits. “You try not to, but how can you not?
“It’s obviously disappointing but there are a lot of people less fortunate than I am so you’ve got to keep a positive outlook. I would have loved to have played more games, of course, but I still wake up every day knowing I’ve got one of the best jobs in the world so I’d never complain.
“You’ve got to keep a positive attitude because I’m still very lucky to have done what I’ve done in my cricketing career.”
Griffiths joined Kent in 2013 but remained a regular absentee. He only bowled 63 overs in all competitions last season and yet, contributing to his personal and his club’s irritation, he impressed in his limited appearances. Seven wickets in the T20 Blast and a career-best 6 for 63 in the final game of the County Championship once again demonstrated the paceman’s ability when he’s able to get onto the cricket field.
But with the 2015 season upon us, Griffiths is hopeful that his injuries are behind him and that he can finally flourish on the county circuit.
“Everything’s good at the minute,” he said. “I’ve been bowling a lot of overs and working hard with the physio. My cricket is going in the right direction and the injuries are hopefully a thing of the past now.
“I’m feeling really positive at the moment and I was delighted with my pre-season – I’ve been bowling well, my pace has been fine and it’s probably been one of my best pre-seasons.
“It would be great to get a proper run in the team and start winning games for Kent again. Bowling is hard work, a lot of people don’t understand how hard it is on your body, but I love doing it so every day I can still play cricket I’ll be trying to keep fit and playing.”
Here is a cricketer who has valid reasons to feel disillusioned towards the sport. And yet he refuses to concentrate on the injuries, the setbacks or the disappointment and instead focuses on what the game has provided him. It is a refreshing attitude.
Like all cricketers Griffiths wants wickets, trophies and accolades. But right now, the 29-year-old would settle for a proper run in the Kent team.
No one in world cricket would wish to deny him that.