Australia fast bowler Jason Behrendorff has been ruled out of action indefinitely due to ongoing back issues as he considers all options including the same lower spine surgery that James Pattinson underwent to prolong his career.
Behrendorff, the 29-year-old left-armer from Western Australia, was forced home from a short stint with Sussex in the T20 Blast in England in late August after experiencing some back soreness and scans confirmed it was connected to the repeated stress fractures he has suffered in the past. He had been managing his back problems over the past couple of years, which included stepping away from first-class cricket completely to play limited-overs only.
He will miss the Marsh One-Day Cup and the Western Australia and Cricket Australia medical staff are considering all options, which includes exploring surgery as well as just an extended rest before the BBL. ESPNcricinfo understands Behrendorff is set to speak to both Pattinson and former New Zealand fast bowler Shane Bond about the spine surgery both men had to fix similar issues.
If surgery is a more viable option Behrendorff could head to New Zealand soon to consult with Christchurch-based surgeon Grahame Inglis, who performed the surgery on both Bond and Pattinson, to see whether he can undergo the procedure that could help prolong his career and potentially get him back playing all three formats. The recovery time for such surgery would be between nine and 12 months and next year’s T20 World Cup in Australia in October 2020 would be factored into the equation as to whether surgery is the correct route.
Bond, who was Behrendorff’s bowling coach at the Mumbai Indians during this year’s IPL, first had the surgery in New Zealand in 2004 and it extended his career by six years. The surgery involves fusing screws and a titanium cable into the lower spine to stabilise the stress fracture which would not heal conventionally.
Pattinson had the same surgery in New Zealand in 2017, having also consulted with Bond, as a last resort after fears his career might end prematurely aged 27. He has made a remarkable recovery to play Test cricket again for Australia, featuring in the recent Ashes series having last played Test cricket in 2016.
New Zealand paceman Matt Henry, who was a key contributor to New Zealand’s World Cup campaign, also had the same surgery in 2012.
Behrendorff, who is the same age as Pattinson, has not played a first-class game since November 2017. After a lengthy recovery he made the decision to step away from long-form cricket to manage his workloads. After a successful time in Australia’s ODI and T20 teams last summer he was selected in the World Cup squad and took 5 for 44 against England at Lord’s.
Behrendorff does have an excellent first-class record for Western Australia having taken 126 wickets at an average of 23.85. He took 40 wickets in the 2013-14 Sheffield Shield season and was named Australia’s domestic player of the year in January 2015. He claimed a career-best 14 for 89 against Victoria in 2017 including 9 for 37 in the first innings.