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Friday, 30 November, 2001, 11:11 GMT
On the comeback trail
Charlotte Edwards relaxing at home
Edwards spent the summer taking it easy
Charlotte Edwards, one of the stars of the England women's team, tells Barbara Daniels about the long recovery process following major knee surgery.

The England women's team touring India in January will be without one of its best and most experienced players.

Charlotte Edwards made her debut in 1996 at the age of 16 and has been a firm fixture at the top of the batting order ever since.

In March, however, she snapped the cruciate ligament in her right knee while playing hockey, forcing her to miss the series against Australia in the summer and now this winter tour.

"I was devastated when it happened. I really thought I would never play again," she admits.

Edwards collects a boundary against The Netherlands
Edwards batting at last year's World Cup

That attitude was changed quite quickly through the intervention of Northants County Cricket Club where Charlotte had been training.

Physiotherapist Kirk Russell ensured access to a respected knee surgeon and the operation to reconstruct the knee was done in June.

This involved replacing the ligament with part of her hamstring.

"It's a big operation and I was very sore afterwards but I was up and walking on crutches within days," she recalls.

In fact, she was able to go to some of the England games against Australia to see how her team mates were getting on.

"It was difficult to watch as I was desperate to play. I didn't have a great World Cup last winter and to miss out against the best team in the world was very disappointing."

In a way, having the operation was the easy part.

The hard work started really as soon as Charlotte was off crutches and could start building up the knee again.

Therese McGregor dismisses England's Claire Taylor
Australia completed a clean sweep

"Northants have given me fantastic support and Kirk has been brilliant. He had been working with David Sales on his recovery from the same injury and this gave me a lot of confidence in his knowledge."

She worked regularly with Russell on specific strengthening exercises and it came as something of a blow then when he had to leave in October to work with the England Academy in Australia.

"That was difficult, but as Kirk said there was nothing more for him to do, it was all down to how hard I would work."

And work hard is what she has done.

Edwards has not been particularly noted for her fitness in the past but now has a personal trainer and is in the gym four or five times a week, building up the muscles around her knee and her general aerobic capacity.

"I think I took my fitness for granted before but now I want to do the right kind of training. Coming back from this injury has made me think more about what I do and understand more about my body."

Although Edwards was not named in the England winter training squad, she has attended all the sessions and joined in as much as possible.

"It was important for me to be there and be part of John Harmer's new approach. Although I haven't been able to do everything I've taken part in the batting drills and I've seen a big improvement in my batting and in other people's."

Charlotte Edwards underwent reconstructive surgery
The surgeon did a neat job

She admits it was difficult to be with the squad when the touring team was announced.

"Although I knew I wouldn't be going it was hard to see everyone else getting excited about the tour. I had a slight chance of being fit for this but I know it's not worth the risk."

Her next target is when she sees her surgeon on 13 December.

He will assess her progress and decide whether she can now move onto lateral and twisting movements. Up to now everything has been in straight lines.

"I'm very hopeful that I will get the go ahead to move my training on. I'm completely confident that I will be fit for next season."

Charlotte will be watching the Indian tour keenly and wishing her colleagues the best but she is straining at the leash to be fully involved again.

"I have to look at the long term. If I get this rehab right now, I'll be back stronger and be around for years."

Now that is good news for England.

See also:

27 Nov 01 |  Cricket
Young trio bolster England
11 Sep 01 |  Cricket
England's women enter new era
03 Jul 01 |  Womens Ashes
Stuck on the sidelines
15 Jun 01 |  Womens Ashes
Edwards misses women's Ashes
29 Nov 00 |  Womens World Cup
Edwards inspires change
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