Newcastle District Cricket Association: Toronto 18-year-old Griffin Lea back bowling off long run after overcoming stress fractures | photos

For the main part of this season Griffin Lea has been an off-spinning all-rounder for Toronto.

But not anymore.

After overcoming stress fractures in his back the Coornabong 18-year-old, who starts University this month, has reverted to what he knows best – bowling fast.

“The best thing about the spinning thing for me, wasn’t really learning the art of spinning, it was realising how valuable I was as a fast bowler,” Lea said.

“Slowly but surely that love for fast bowling came back and by the time I started rolling my arm over in the nets, it was pretty easy to make the decision to come back after that.”

The Newcastle Blasters and NSW Country under-17 representative, who scored a rookie training contract with the Sydney Sixers last summer, said the experience of playing pain-free after the Christmas break has been refreshing.   

And the results have shown with 14 wickets from seven innings across first and second grades, under 21s and Sunday’s NCC Summer Bash double header featuring figures of 2-8 and 3-19.

“I’ve probably been bowling off the long run-up for about four weeks now,” Lea said.

“It’s been unreal bowling with no pain. My back is feeling awesome. I don’t think I’ve felt this good about the game of cricket in about three of four years.”

Lea, four years after becoming the youngest first-grade debutant at Ron Hill Oval aged 14, simply started sending down tweakers to recover and stay involved. 

“The past couple of years I’ve been dealing with stressies [stress fractures] in my lower back, probably due to my action and probably due to lack of strength just growing up, and it felt like I just needed a bit of a rest for a while,” the Avondale College graduate said.    

“I wasn’t the handiest spinner in the team, but I think it was good just to stay on the field with the boys. It’s different not playing and seeing everyone else playing.”

Lea, who will study a Health, Science and Human Nutrition degree at Ourimbah, said it was hard to pinpoint why Toronto had begun the campaign 0-7.

But after going winless in all five one-dayers followed by a pair of two-day matches, the Kookaburras have struck form.

They have posted four straight victories in the longer version of the game combined with two out of three T20 fixtures.   

And while a third consecutive semi-final showing appears all-but out of reach for the ninth-placed club, Lea’s looking on the bright side. 

“There’s a vibe in the dressing room and everyone’s buzzing. It’s quite quite infectious,” he said.

“Our aim is just to finish strong and give it a good crack next year.”