For the first time in three seasons, former Timaru fast bowler Hamish Bennett can focus on playing cricket, as opposed to recovering from injury.
Injury has been the one constant in his career, but he is keen to play his part in bringing the glory days back to Canterbury this season.
The 26-year-old was back in Timaru coaching young South Canterbury players, along with Canterbury Wizards team-mates, George Worker and Roneel Hira, and assistant coach Chris Martin.
Bennett has battled back issues and other niggles, which have limited his time at the bowling crease for the Wizards, and curtailed his international aspirations after just one test in 2010, and a handful of one-day matches.
“I’ve always had faith in my body and never doubted my ability. Unfortunately, I’ve had a couple of niggles, which have turned into bigger things. Clearly, I don’t do things by halves.
“There’s a lot less strain on my body, so I can’t put a bit more into [the bowling], because the pain isn’t there anymore.”
Bennett said he wanted to get back to the mindset he had growing up playing cricket with his mates, and helping them win.
“I’ve got back to when I was a kid watching cricket at Aorangi Oval, and watching a really good Canterbury team. I want to be available for every game and if Canterbury rest me [occasionally] then so be it, but I want to help them win all three titles this season.
“Having the time out really taught me that playing with my close mates shouldn’t be taken for granted. Of course, playing for New Zealand is what gets you out of bed, but for me right now, it’s not at the front of my mind.”
But as the New Zealand team opened a test series against Bangladesh in the sub-continent overnight, Bennett admitted he wanted to wear the black cap once again.
“I still think of my test match debut, and all those times I thought about it while playing cricket growing up, and that’s what motivates me.
“I was fortunate enough to play one test and I want to add to that, because it’s something you can take to your grave and be proud of.”