Brett Hutton has revealed he played through the pain barrier to help Northants secure promotion to the Specsavers County Championship Division One.
The pace bowler picked up a serious ankle injury in May that kept him out of the Steelbacks' Vitality T20 Blast campaign, but he continued to play Championship cricket despite being in serious discomfort.
Hutton eventually underwent an operation following the final day of the season in September, when promotion was secured with a rain-affected draw at Gloucestershire, and he is now hopeful he will be fit and firing for the new campaign in April, 2020.
The 26-year-old actually suffered the ankle injury on his first appearance of the season, having missed the opening weeks with a calf problem.
Called into action as a concussion substitute for Luke Wood in the match against Sussex at Hove on May 22, Hutton explained what happened: “I picked up a split in my peroneal tendon against Sussex in May when I came in as the concussion sub.
"I hit the side of a foothole and it just felt a bit weird.
“Bill Ribbons (Northants' chief medical officer) was here that day so he had a look at it and said it could be this, so we went for a scan and he was bang on.
“I played through the block of County Championship games after the One Day Cup, but I was really struggling with the ankle.
"I was meant to go to Durham with the squad for our first Blast fixture, but I just had to have some downtime.
"The Blast came at a good time really, it meant I could just tick over and be ready for Champo.”
Northants head physio Barry Goudriaan admits he was surprised the bowler managed to play through the injury.
“It was one of those kinds of injury where we knew what the situation was and how to manage it the best we could, but he really went through a lot of pain and discomfort.” said Goudriaan.
“In hindsight it was impressive he managed to play through it, I was surprised really as there’s a lot of players who would have shied away from it.
"A lot of that was on Brett too, he wanted to keep playing and there wasn’t really a reason for myself or David Rpley to stop him.”
And Northants were certainly glad that was the case, as Hutton went on to complete a 35-wicket haul at an average of 20 from 10 County Championship matches, with his pace partnership with Ben Sanderson key to the club's success.
Hutton’s ankle operation was a success and the bowler is now out of his moon boot and beginning rehabilitation as the County gear up for their return to the top flight of English first-class cricket.
“The surgery went well so realistically as long as I have no massive setbacks I should be fit to play for the start of next season," the Yorkshireman told northantscricket.com
"I just need to start doing as much as I can while keeping my weight off it.”