Grafton's Kara Sutherland back in Shooting Stars setup
IT IS a long way back from injury to elite sport, just ask Kara Sutherland.
One of Grafton's finest cricketing exports, Sutherland is back in the national frame after being named in the Shooting Stars squad to tour Sri Lanka next month.
It has not all been smooth sailing for the 22-year-old, but her selection is the highest point after a two-year fight with a foot injury.
Sutherland was diagnosed with Plantar fasciitis, or "jogger's heel", about August 2012, when The Daily Examiner last caught up with the fast bowler.
"At the start of last season there was a bit of an issue with my foot," Sutherland said.
"When it started it was only in one foot but I ended up getting it in both.
"It's called plantar fasciitis and feels like you have no padding on your heel. It's quite uncomfortable."
Sutherland described the worst part as being the injury's timing.
"The worst part was it happened during pre-season," Sutherland said.
"That put me behind most other players so I had to fight my way back."
Fight her way back she did, eventually retaking her place in the top Lend Lease Breakers squad.
She missed this season's first round game against Western Fury with a broken thumb, but has played every Women's National Cricket League game since.
Sutherland has taken a
bag full wickets, including 3-18 against ACT, in the Women's T20 competition, and should appear in the final on February 12.
As much as enjoying the shortest form of cricket, Sutherland said the opportunity to play Big Bash League fixtures was great for the women's game.
"We played one of our games before the Sydney derby (Thunder v Sixers) at the SCG and another one at the WACA (Scorchers v Thunder)," Sutherland said.
"Our home ground is at Blacktown and we play on the smaller fields like Allan Border Field in Brisbane, but we occasionally get to play on the biggest grounds.
"I think I've played at every major one in Australia now.
"The SCG is great and will always be my home. We won a few one-dayers and singing the team song in those rooms is an experience I won't forget."
The culmination of her form in the Women's Twenty20 competition, as well as the Breakers' undefeated WNCL season, is her Shooting Stars selection.
Shooting Stars is the equivalent of the men's Australia A team, and is one of the final major steps before reaching the top - a place in the Southern Stars squad.
Sutherland was "over the moon" to book her flight to Sri Lanka, and the selection of housemate and fellow North Coast girl Angela Reakes made it all the more sweet.
"I've been in the squad the whole time but never made it into the team," Sutherland said.
"I'm really excited for it.
"Me and Ange have been best friends for ages. I love seeing her do well.
"Seeing her playing for Australia was a good reality check for me, and helped me know where I was.
"It made me work harder."
The 10-day Tour starts on February 17, with the Shooting Stars facing Sri Lanka A in two One Day International and two Twenty20 matches.
Sutherland admitted to not knowing what to expect in Sri Lanka, but said she was thankful to her parents, who she described as her biggest supporters, for the opportunity.
"I'm not sure what to expect over there," Sutherland said.
"Playing on the subcontinent is different to anywhere else so it will be a learning curve.
"I would never have been given the opportunity to play for my country without the support of my family, especially my parents."