As he prepares to lead Queensland in a domestic limited-overs tournament critical to Australia's chances of mounting a competitive World Cup defence in England in 2019, Chris Lynn has admitted ongoing shoulder problems made him so anxious that as recently as six months ago he simply did not want the ball to come to him.
Lynn's most recent shoulder dislocation took place in Auckland during Australia's successful Twenty20 triangular series against New Zealand and England, and it shelved him from the limited-overs plans of the new coach Justin Langer for his first assignment in England and Zimbabwe. At the same time, Lynn was given strong indications he needed to turn out for his state to be a chance to return to the ODI line-up, resulting in him not only playing but captaining the Bulls in a competition beginning on Saturday.
"I feel when I am fielding the best I can I feel more involved in the game as well and I actually want the ball to come to me," Lynn told ESPNcricinfo. "Whereas six months ago I didn't want the ball to come to me at all. I walked out to bat with fear and hesitation, I wasn't playing the sort of cricket I wanted to play. So at the moment I'm feeling really good and it's all about trying to hold that momentum.
"I can't throw from the boundary but I can get it in to the keeper from the in-field. I've still got a fair way to go, but it's not going to get better overnight and I've just got to keep working on it and managing it on the training paddock probably for the rest of my career. I can't dive which is unfortunate, I'm so competitive and to see the ball trickle past me I want to dive and save every run that I can, but yeah it gets frustrating at times...I just need to make sure I make up for it with the bat and score more runs.
"I believe you've got to be able to do at least two out of three with the bat, ball or in the field, so obviously not bowling my fielding's got to be up to speed and while I can be in places like short third man or 45 [degrees behind square leg], gone are the days where there's liabilities in the field and even bowlers now you see fielding in the slips or being able to dive around and take catches on the boundary that we haven't seen before, so it's a huge part of the game."
A couple of Langer's non-negotiables have included state representation and also presence in the field, something Lynn has being working assiduously towards in trying to strengthen his shoulder. Following a promising return in the IPL, he was denied a No Objection Certificate to join Steven Smith and David Warner in the Canadian T20 tournament, but did take part in the CPL and is now preparing to bring his singular hitting power to 50-over ranks once more, at a time when Australia must review their approach to ODIs after twice being thrashed by England, both at home and away, this year.
"It's going to be interesting," Lynn said. "My IPL this year was probably similar to how I play one-day cricket, striking at about 120, 130 [runs per 100 balls] and playing some smarter innings rather than going out to whack it type-style that I'm used to. So I've worked to go out and do that, and with 50 overs unlike Twenty20 I can relax a bit and take my time. I didn't have the greatest tournament over in the CPL, so I'll be looking to spend time out in the middle for Queensland. I know if I face 50 balls and strike at a decent rate, the longer I spend out in the middle and become more comfortable the runs will come.
"I guess in one-day cricket, now it is about being proactive and being ahead of the game, ahead of the over, so being aggressive in the first couple of balls in an over to actually drive an over, rather than chasing your tail and trying to hit a boundary off the last two balls of an over. I think that's what they (England ODI team) did so well, they were proactive and then they could really control what goes on in the game if they get on the front foot early. As soon as you've got momentum anything can happen.
"So that's where I'd come into it and try to play the aggressor. Not everybody can play that role, you are in a risk versus reward situation, but I'm comfortable with whatever role I'm given and you've just got to be proactive and drive the game. I'm pretty sure JL loves driving the game and throwing the first punch. On the other side if we are in a bit of trouble, the perfect way to get back into it is to counter-attack, which is again being aggressive."
Like all other members of the six state squads, all of whom can win the tournament irrespective of where they finish after the qualifying matches due to a lateral fixture change by Cricket Australia to guarantee a minimum number of matches for all, Lynn can see the link between this tournament and numerous international assignments ahead. These will include the T20 series against Pakistan in Dubai, limited-overs matches against South Africa and India at home, before at least two more series next year ahead of the World Cup, being played in England for the first time since Steve Waugh's team lifted the then brand new ICC trophy in 1999.
"I think there's opportunities there, but the most important think is to go out there and just play fear-free cricket," Lynn said. "Results have gone in my favour more often than not when you go out there, just have fun and play without fear. When you start to doubt yourself, then you start fiddling around and thinking about things more, that's why I know it's better to go out there and have fun and smack the ball and results will be generally on your side more times than not.
"JL's given me clear idea just to go out there and bang the door down and don't give the selectors any reason for them not to pick me. The ball's in my court, so if I can play well with the Queensland boys and obviously stay fit, the results will happen, provided I keep doing the hard work. Cricket's a funny game, the moment you get complacent it can bite you in the arse.
"So just do the right things and put my hand up, and if I get picked in that [World Cup] squad it's great, if not it isn't the end of the world, I'm still enjoying my cricket at whatever level it is."
With no plans to play in the Sheffield Shield, Lynn's schedule beyond this tournament will be a mixture of international appearances and also flights of fancy like the T20 tournament due to be played in the UAE in late November, alongside his fellow Brisbane Heat "bash brother" Brendon McCullum. Casting an eye towards the vastly expanded BBL, now featuring 14 qualifying games per side, Lynn said the mental and physical test on players would be significantly increased.
"I thought they had the perfect amount of games last year, so time will tell with the added games this year," he said. "In terms of the games there's a lot of cricket to be played beforehand as well, so we'll see how physically and mentally tired the guys are around Christmas time.
"But in saying that with the Big Bash, if you can't get up for one of those games then you're playing for the wrong reasons. So it's going to be exciting but I don't think you can really comment yet on the added games but it is going to be a tough schedule. You'll definitely find out later in the tournament who the fitter and mentally stronger guys are when you are playing back to back games."