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Could-be-worse take on season-ending injury

IF you are going to suffer an injury, now’s probably the best time.

That’s international football referee and representative cricketer Mel Knight’s could-be-worse take on the broken ankle that has ended her season.

The history-making whistleblower was vice-captain of the Northern Spirit team in the 2015-2016 women’s domestic cricket competition. But a few weeks ago, Lady Luck turned nasty and dealt the 37-year-old a cruel blow while the team were warming up.

Spirit vice-captain Knight went over on her ankle and was only able to field for a few overs before giving in to the pain. What was initially thought to be a sprained ankle was actually a fracture.

“It was the first game of Round 3 against Canterbury so I missed that whole round and will now miss rounds 4 and 5, which are being played over the next two weekends,” she said.

The Poverty Bay women’s team skipper also missed their Northern Districts 40-over matches last weekend and is all but certain to be out of their February 14 home game against Bay of Plenty.

“Effectively, my cricket season is over,” said Knight, one of two Gisborne-produced players in the Spirit side. Tauranga-based Kerry Tomlinson is the other.

Knight described the Spirit’s season so far as “up and down”. The women’s domestic competition features rounds of one-day and Twenty20 games, both formats culminating in finals.

Northern Spirit's positionNorthern Spirit are sitting in sixth and last place in the one-day competition, with just one win, and are fourth on the Twenty20 table.

“We started miserably against Wellington at the end of November when their New Zealand internationals were just too good for us, although we did pick up two points in the T20 as it was washed out.

“After Christmas we went to Lincoln (Christchurch) and played Otago in Round 2. We won the T20 and one out of two 50-over games with a great chase in the second game.”

“Round 3 against Canterbury was close. We ended up losing the Twenty20 by about 20 runs. The first 50-over game was abandoned due to rain and the second was won by them with a good chase when we were probably 20 to 30 runs short of where we should have got to after a good start.”

Knight said the Spirit were a young team who were rebuilding this year.

“They have had a few injury problems but are doing not bad. We’ve had a different Aussie import for each round and they bring experience and talent. It’s been good for the team environment.”

The Spirit captaincy was given to 20-year-old Brooke Halliday, who Knight said was learning with every round “and doing a great job so far”.

“Brooke and some of the other young players are stepping up and I’m sure, given a few more years together, they have the potential to be a very competitive team.”

Knight said that on a good day the Spirit could beat any team in the competition. If they could pick up another win or two in their Twenty20 games, the final was a possibility.

Knight created history last year when she became the first Gisborne football referee to officiate in an international game, at the Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea. She would have achieved the feat earlier in the year when she was appointed for a match between the Football Ferns and North Korea, but had to pull out after suffering rib cartilage damage while bowling.

Her latest injury has set back her training schedule.

“All going well, my ankle should be back to full strength by the end of March so between now and then I just have to adjust my training to how it’s feeling and build up gradually.”

Some major international football tournaments will be held towards the end of the year.

“If I can get my fitness back up to scratch fairly quickly I’d hope to be selected for one of them, but you never know until closer to the time. It’s not a bad time of year to be injured from a football perspective, I guess.”

Mel Knight