Not one, but two major issues threatened to completely derail Australia quick Megan Schutt’s off-season.
First, the jumping castle Schutt organised for her wedding in late March was cancelled on the eve of the big event, due to forecast high winds (that never eventuated).
Then, a sore big toe necessitated a change in shoe, and the result – the sort of ultra-comfortable footwear usually coveted by the elderly – have only served to severely harm the Australian spearhead’s fashion cred (much to the delight of her teammates and friends).
These tongue-in-cheek “problems” are a pretty good indicator of the high spirits Schutt finds herself in as she returns to the training track ahead of what promises to be Australia’s busiest-ever year.
Well-rested after a six-week break that included her long-awaited wedding to new wife Jess, a honeymoon in New Zealand and the adoption of kitten Whitney – adding to a fur-family already boasting rapidly growing golden retriever Eddie – Schutt now has her sights set on an Ashes campaign in the United Kingdom.
Her new thick-soled shoes aside, the South Australian’s off-season fitness regime was somewhat inconvenienced by the foot issue – which temporarily restricted her to the stationary bike and rower – but Schutt is now ready to go as she joins her teammates at a training camp in Brisbane this week.
“I just had my first bowl last Friday at very low intensity,” Schutt told cricket.com.au.
“I had a little issue with my big toe, it was a bit painful, so I’ve been off my feet a bit and trying different shoes and orthotics, but it seems to be improving now.
“The last few running sessions have been good.
“The new shoes are helping, they’re the ugliest things you’ll ever see, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.
“I will admit it’s like walking on clouds, it’s lovely, but they’re the ugliest things and I just cop s*** left, right and centre. But they’re good for my feet and they make me taller than Jess when I wear them.”
After celebrating a wedding she describes as “the perfect day” (jumping castle controversy aside), Schutt soaked up precious time at home ahead of a demanding schedule that will see Australia travel to the UK for the Ashes, return to the Caribbean for the second time in less than 12 months to play the West Indies in September and then host Sri Lanka, all before the first standalone WBBL begins in October.
“It’s been essential, it hasn’t felt like a huge break because I’ve had so much on outside cricket, but we’re spending about 150 days on the road the next however long and that’s a hectic schedule, so CA played it well giving us this break,” Schutt said.
Now, her attention is firmly fixed on the impending multi-format series against England, which will feature three ODIs, one Test and three T20Is.
“For us bowlers it’ll be about getting our loads up to begin with, when (training) will become more Ashes focused,” she explained.
“For me, my game doesn’t change much between formats, I’ve just got to be more patient as the longer formats come in.
“One thing I want to try and do this year is to keep my swing when I’m coming around the wicket.
“That’s something I can’t really do yet, so hopefully it’s something I can add to my repertoire.”
Australia depart for England in late June ahead of their first ODI in Leicester on July 2.
For Schutt, who admits she’s already missing cricket after the break, it can’t come soon enough.
“It’s what we love to do and I love going over to England,” she said.
“It’s like home but just different enough to be good and it’s always a good contest.”
CommBank Ashes Tour of England
First ODI Grace Road, Leicester, July 2
Second ODI Grace Road, Leicester, July 4
Third ODI St Lawrence Ground, Canterbury, July 7
First T20 County Ground, Chelmsford, July 26
Second T20 The County Ground, Hove, July 28
Third T20 Bristol County Ground, Bristol, July 31
A Test victory is worth four points (two each for a draw), two points are awarded for ODI and T20 wins