By Connor Steel
Photograph from BBC Sport
HAMPSHIRE CRICKET were dealt an injury blow as their emerging talent Aneurin Donald was ruled out for the rest of the 2021 summer campaign, with the right handed batsman suffering a recurrence of his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) knee tear sustained 19 months ago.
Starting at Glamorgan in 2018 at the edge of 21, Donald was seen as a prospect after a great start to his cricketing career and moved to the Ageas Bowl in the summer 2019 influx alongside several of his former England under-19 teammates during the process.
In his debut season at Hampshire the youngster scored 554 runs during the county season playing as a batsman and occasional wicketkeeper, with his highlight being an outstanding 173 runs off 144 balls against Warwickshire in July 2019 during a high scoring Southampton thriller.
Donald also scored another combined 334 runs in the one-day cup and Twenty-20 blast competition that summer, helping Hampshire reach a Lords final in his first full season alongside a third place County Championship finish mostly playing in the middle order of the line-up in all three formats.
However, days after being linked with an England call-up for their tours against South Africa and Sri Lanka in winter 2019, Donald suffered an injury that caused him to undergo an operation and 14 months of rehabilitation. This alongside the Covid-19 pandemic meant the youngster missed the limited 2020 cricket season.
Hopes were raised that the young batsman would return to the crease when Donald played in multiple inter-squad matches back in March this year, but he suffered a ‘minor injury’ in the final encounter which saw him miss the first stage of the county championship fixtures and Twenty-20 blast games.
Still suffering nagging discomfort in recovering from this injury, subsequent scans showed that his ACL graft had unfortunately failed and that he had also suffered another recurrence of his original injury. After attempting to treat the injury without operations, a surgery was carried out successfully by a leading London-based knee specialist, Andy Williams.
However this means that Donald has now been ruled out for the remainder of the 2021 campaign and will now hope to return to cricket in early 2022, more than two years after the inital injury. He will miss the entirety of the Royal London One Day Cup, any T20 blast progresses and the last five county championship games as Hampshire look to win the title come mid-September.
In a statement on the Hampshire Cricket website, Donald said: “I’m devastated to be back on the side-lines following my reinjury; it’s a certainly a tough pill to swallow after such a long rehabilitation process that led to me being back in a position to feature on the pitch at the start of this pre-season.
“Unfortunately, after trying to continue without a functioning ACL, a scan showing a tear in my Meniscus a few weeks later finally led to surgery being the only remaining option.
“Fortunately, with thanks to Andy Williams and his team at the Fortius Clinic, my second surgery was a success, and I have already begun to dive into the rehabilitation process once again with a full recovery fully expected.
“I want to specifically thank all of the science and medicine team at the club who have done everything in their power to help me through this process and continue to do so. To the fans, I’m sorry I won’t be back on the park this year and able to contribute to the Club, and I am ever grateful for the support shown to me since I’ve made the move down south.
“Finally, to all of the people who have helped me throughout, from teammates and coaches, to family and friends, thank you. I can’t wait to be back out in the middle next season and better than ever!”