Andrew Tye was overcome with emotion and broke down on the phone when he suffered an elbow injury last year, which ruled him out for most of the season, but conversations with the Australia selectors gave him belief that he would get another chance at the top level.
Now, Tye has been included in Australia’s 21-man squad for the limited-overs tour of England, which could see him return to the side after nearly two years. Tye last played for Australia in November 2018, but was part of the T20I squad early last summer against Sri Lanka when he went down injured during training before the series began. Subsequent surgery meant he missed the BBL for Perth Scorchers.
Covid-19 has since put paid to any off-season cricket for him, with the IPL delayed – Tye will join Rajasthan Royals in the UAE after the England tour – and a county deal with Gloucestershire shelved, which meant last October’s Marsh Cup was the last time he performed at the professional level, although he did manage to play club cricket late last summer.
“When I first did [the injury], it was definitely the toughest; I broke down on the phone crying to my partner,” Tye said. “I’d worked so hard to get back in the team and then this happened. It was a tough summer watching a lot of cricket and not playing, being frustrated at the injury which wasn’t coming along quite as quickly as it could and getting close to playing the back-end of the Big Bash.
“I’ve had a lot of time at home and really enjoyed it. It’s been the best preparation really, the longest time in ten years I’ve spent at home. [I’ve] had a nice pre-season and slowed things down once there was no IPL. It’s given me a real good chance to make sure my body is in the best shape it can be”
“Since all that I’ve had a lot of time at home and really enjoyed it. It’s been the best preparation really, the longest time in ten years I’ve spent at home. [I’ve] had a nice pre-season and slowed things down once there was no IPL. It’s given me a real good chance to make sure my body is in the best shape it can be.”
While the time sidelined was difficult, he had been given early reassurances that he would remain firmly in Australia’s T20I plans and now has his eyes on the back-to-back T20 World Cups in 2021 and 2022.
“When I injured myself, it was a possibility I wouldn’t get back in,” he said. “I was hopeful, though, that there would still be a chance and they would give me a crack to get my spot back. Then when the coronavirus happened. You are uncertain and you just never know, so [I am] very pumped to be back in Australia colours.
“I have every faith in the Aussie set-up that they would have given me every chance to get back. From what they had communicated after I injured my elbow, [they said] we had picked you in the strongest possible T20 team; you will get a chance to get back. It’s a great opportunity to put my best foot forward for the next couple of years.”
During the winter, Tye also lost his contract with Western Australia after the state decided he was not in their red-ball plans – Tye has only played nine first-class matches and none since February 2018. However, everything was done with very open communication and on good terms, with Tye saying he was treated as though he was still on Western Australia’s list.
“I’m very faithful to WA, they have looked after me incredibly well over the years and I always want to play for them as much as I can,” he said. “They have said to me they don’t have me in their plans for red-ball but am very much in their white-ball team, so this year I got squeezed out. I’m just glad they could keep one of the younger guys on and give them a chance, the same way they gave me a chance.”
He believes his bowling – known for his range of variations such as the knuckle ball – “feels the best it ever has” and he has used the downtime of recent months to make some small technical changes working closely with Western Australia bowling coach Matt Mason. “I believe that the changes that I’ve made can only help my game so I’m really excited by it and hopefully it makes my variations even better,” he said.
Although Tye is unlikely to be in Australia’s initial planning for the ODI side, the tour may also be a chance to revive his career in that format which is stalled on seven caps, all of which have come against England. The last of those was on the previous tour in 2018, in the match at Trent Bridge, where the home side racked up a world record 481 for 6 with Tye going none for 100 off nine overs – the second-most expensive figures for Australia in ODI cricket.
“I quite often get reminded of it,” he said. “I see it as a good challenge, my last game there probably wasn’t the greatest. It’s a good challenge to come back and learn from those lessons.”