Jason Behrendorff is still trying to process what has transpired over a “whirlwind” couple of days.
Returning to the first class arena after a three-month long injury layoff, the Western fast bowler could scarcely have imagined how his comeback would eventually pan out.
Behrendorff produced one of the most remarkable fast bowling efforts in Sheffield Shield history to pick up match figures of 14-89 and drive WA to an innings and 38-run win over Victoria.
His figures are the second best in Shield history for WA, just behind Terry Alderman’s 14-87 against NSW in 1981, and the ninth best return ever seen in the competition.
Behrendorff took 5-52 to help dismiss Victoria for 130 in the second innings, less than 24 hours after his 9-37 knocked the Bushrangers over for 117 on day one at the WACA Ground.
The left-armer’s 9-37 were the fifth-best figures in Shield history, and the competition’s best in 50 years.
The significance of what he was doing didn’t dawn on the 26-year-old – after a lengthy absence he was “just stoked to be picked in the team again”.
“That’s something that I’ll reflect on and look back at and no doubt, once I’ve started to comprehend it all a bit more [and] really understand what I’ve achieved over the last couple of days,” Behrendorff said.
At the change of innings, the fielding team’s opening batsmen usually bolt into the dressing rooms to strap on the pads.
This time they didn’t, instead waiting for Behrendorff to leave the field first in a show of respect. It was then that he started to realise the magnitude of his achievement.
“That’s one of those things where you [think] that’s probably something pretty special, for them to do that,” Behrendorff said.
David Moody bore the brunt of the jokes as the only other WA bowler to claim a scalp on day one, with his teammates joking he had robbed Behrendorff of a 10-wicket innings.
“There was a few little jokes thrown around, that’s for sure,” Behrendorff said.
“I got a couple of text messages from friends as well, just saying ‘Who’s this Moody bloke? What happened? Why did he take one’?”
As Behrendorff picked up the top three Victorian batsmen on day two, a light-hearted message filtered around the field that no one else was to take a wicket.
The Victorian batsmen simply had no answers for Behrendorff, who looked like he hadn’t missed a beat in three months despite nursing a stress fracture in his left fibula.
The haul was just reward for the Tuggeranong junior, who went from the brink of n selection to stranded on the sidelines in a “very tough” period.
“You go through your ebbs and flows – some days it’s all going okay and then suddenly the next day you’re [at] rock bottom and everything feels like it’s falling apart,” Behrendorff said.
“It’s really important that you try and stay as level as you can through those times. The biggest thing is having a really good support team around you, and that’s something I’m very fortunate to have.”