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Harsh Visavadiya came to prominence last season when he scored a stack of runs, whether it was playing club cricket for Invercargill-Old Boys, Hawke Cup cricket for Southland or with the Otago A team.
It included a remarkable innings of 199 playing against South Canterbury in a Hawke Cup fixture in Invercargill.
The 27-year-old’s big runs total last season came despite playing through pain.
For the majority of the season, Visavadiya played with an undiagnosed pain in his side.
He made the tough call in March to return to India a few weeks before Southland’s successful Hawke Cup challenge against Counties Manukau.
It turned out Visavadiya had a hernia problem and there was also an infection requiring surgery.
Visavadiya admitted the recovery period left him in a dark mental place as he struggled to find his rhythm with both bat and ball when he eventually returned to training.
"I was depressed. I couldn’t lift anything and I couldn’t play cricket.’
"I lost my flexibility and strength. I tried to play a few balls and I couldn’t middle it at all.
"Even bowling I was really struggling. For the first few days I was ready to give up. I was thankful I was at home with my family."
Over the past two months, while training in 40degC-plus heat in his home state of Gujarat, Visavadiya has regained his strength and his confidence with both bat and ball. Gujarat has a population of 62million, massively more than his adopted province of Southland which has about 90,000.
During the time back in India, Visavadiya remained in touch with Southland and Otago officials and a week ago he returned to Invercargill to begin his preparation for the 2018-19 New Zealand season.
Last week, he spent some time in Dunedin catching up with Otago officials, including Volts coach Rob Walter.
While not contracted in the Volts squad for 2018-19,
Visavadiya was eager to get some game time in New Zealand’s elite domestic competition.
If selected he would have to play for the Volts as an overseas player, but Visavadiya — who moved to Invercargill in 2015 to study at the Southern Institute of Technology — said he was working through the paperwork with the hope he could soon qualify as a New Zealand player.
While a spot in the Volts remains the dream, another motivating aspect for his return to Southland was the prospect of helping Southland in its Hawke Cup defence this summer.
In the meantime, Visavadiya will again juggle his cricket training commitments with his job at ILT Stadium Southland in Invercargill.
- Logan Savory