Nicola Browne has made herself available for selection, only seven months after announcing her retirement from international cricket.
Awarded ICC Women's World Twenty20 player of the series and ranked sixth on the world bowling rankings in 2010, the New Zealand female cricketers retirement announcement in August 2011 came as a shock.
“I wasn’t tracking where I should have been,” says Browne “I was plagued with health problems and just couldn’t get my energy levels right.”
Diagnosed with TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder) over the summer which then returned after being in the Christchurch 22 February earthquake with the Southern Stars and White Ferns, Browne felt the flame inside had been extinguished and that it was time for her to exit.
One month later, a change of doctor and prognosis, Browne learnt she had celiac disease, a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine when gluten is consumed and can result in failure to thrive and fatigue.
“Pizza and pasta gone!” says Browne as the only known treatment is a gluten-free diet.
Reeducation process and a change to her diet, Browne found within three weeks her life had taken a major turn.
“I had more energy that I could ever remember having,” says Browne, “it was like I had been living my life at only 70%.”
New found energy, passion for life and cricket returned. A five-wicket bag for the Northern Spirit in the 2012 domestic season showed selectors what is yet to come, as Browne returns to fitness.
Time to reflect on the situation has given Browne a greater appreciation of the value that sport has brought to her life and the subsequent direction she wants to pursue.
Team selection, T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka, and becoming a professional female cricket player are her driving cricket goals. In contrast, her personal pursuit is to invest back into youth and aspiring athletes in the community.
“I’ve found myself,” says Browne, “and I’ve found the energy to go and achieve beyond where I reached before, and bring others along for the journey.”