How Liam overcame injury to join elite 50 wicket club
WHEN promising fast bowler Liam Dean injured his shoulder a few seasons ago, anything could have happened.
The then teenager's confidence could have been rocked indefinitely or he may have been forced to take an extended break from cricket.
Thankfully for his Laidley team and maybe the Ipswich Hornets next season, Dean has returned from his rehabilitation in devastating form.
He has just joined an elite club of first division cricketers to take 50 wickets in a season.
The Laidley-bred right-arm quick achieved the milestone during the Cricket Ipswich four-day first division grand final against Centrals at Walker Oval.
After taking 5/26 in the first innings, Dean contributed another wicket in the second innings as his team consolidated its powerful position in the final.
"I'm pretty happy . . . pretty happy with the season as a team as well,'' he said.
It was the first time Dean took 50 wickets in a season.
Asked what the difference was this season in his remarkable form, Dean answered: " I don't know really to be honest.
"I just found good rhythm.
"I had an injury a couple of years ago and sort of it took me a while to get back.''
The injury slowed him down.
However, having been with the Laidley club since he under 10s, Dean was determined to return strongly.
Now 21, the former Laidley State High School student even snared his first top grade hat-trick this season - against Brothers.
That came a week after a seven-wicket haul.
But while those efforts were enjoyable, his latest success was just as pleasing.
"To take five (wickets) in the final is pretty hard to beat,'' he said.
"I was pretty happy to contribute with that.''
While he humbly accepts his bowling rewards, first division captain Alex Welsh knows exactly why Dean is firing.
"He's been exceptional this year,'' Welsh said, admiring his remarkable comeback.
"Last year was probably Liam's first year back at Laidley. But the year prior he broke his collarbone.
"So doing the rehab and whatever, you probably underestimate what impact that has. Ideally, trying to get back in and be able to bowl properly.''
However, Dean's desire to deal with challenges has been as pleasing as his accuracy.
"That was probably the big difference between this year and last year - his consistency,'' Welsh said.
"The amount of good balls he bowls in a spell.
"He asks a lot of questions and he swings the ball both ways. He bowls at a decent pace.''
Still managing some niggling injuries this year, Dean has "pushed through'' further highlighting his latest achievement.
Dean is the 12th individual bowler since World War 2 to take 50 wickets in a season.
The other bowlers were Frank Warwick, Ian Dionysius, Ken Johnson, Michael Sippel, Tony Merrell, Len Johnson, Keith Suthers, Col Cooke, Aslam Heuser, Terry Norris and Ian Greenall.
Dean said Laidley icon Mick Sippel and former fast bowler Ben Gibson were among cricketers to help him.
He also appreciated working with former accomplished all-rounder Grant Stallard during one season at the Ipswich Hornets.
Leaving the door open to a Hornets return next season, Dean is thriving in the Laidley environment.
"It's just the mateship and everyone plays for each other,'' he said. "And it's about the team, not the individual.''
Leading season wicket-takers 1970-2021 (stats courtesy of Wayne Jones)
1. Ian Dionysius (Warwick Road in 79/80, 13 matches) 61w at 13.57 (6x5i, 1x10M)
2. Ken Johnson (Booval in 76/77, 11 matches) 59w at 5.73 (6x5i)
3. Tony Merrill (Brothers in 73/74, 13 matches) 59w at 10.63 (5x5i, 1x10M)
4. Michael Sippel (Laidley in 05/06, 14 matches) 57w at 11.70 (3x5i, 1x10M)
5. Michael Sippel (Laidley in 08/09, 16 matches) 55w at 12.69 (4x5i)
6. Michael Sippel (Laidley in 09/10, 16 matches) 53w at 13.66 (3x5i)
7. Terry Norris (Booval in 73/74, 13 matches) 52w at 9.46 (3x5i, 2x10 & hat-trick)
8. Michael Sippel (Laidley in 07/08, 16 matches) 50w at 11.32 (2x5i, 1x10M)
9. LIAM DEAN (Laidley in 20/21, 16 matches) 50w at 11.88 (3x5i, 1x10M & hat-trick)
10. Ian Greenall (Centrals in 93/94, 11 matches) 50w at 17.98 (4x5i).