Tymal Mills has hit back at rumours that he feared he was going to die following tests to diagnose a mystery injury last year.
But the back injury, which initially baffled doctors, remains a threat to a long career in professional cricket.
Former Mildenhall star Mills, 23, currently the fastest bowler in England, said banner headlines in a national paper were “especially extreme”.
Two years ago Mills was being hailed as a saviour of English fast bowling, but a back injury threatened to bring his career to a premature end.
Left-armer Mills underwent tests for illnesses including multiple sclerosis and cancer, before being given the all-clear. His problem is that his spinal cord and vertebrae are unusually close together.
“At the time I didn’t realise the seriousness of it,” said Mills. “I Googled a few things and I thought ‘Oh god, I’m going to die’.
“My fault I guess for saying it,” he told his Twitter followers, “but the headline has been taken quite a bit out of context. I was clearly sarcastic when saying I thought I was going to die.”
Little more than a year after being given the all-clear, Mills is back to his 90mph best, but restricted to playing Twenty20 games.
Mills, in the UAE with the England Performance squad, who play the first of five Twenty20 matches against Pakistan tomorrow, cannot risk bowling more than four overs.
“The more overs I bowl, and the more my spine is moving, the more it agitates my spinal cord,” Mills told The Sun. “If I wasn’t a professional cricketer, it wouldn’t be a problem. If I was a batsman or a spinner, it would be fine.”
The congenital back condition first surfaced in his final year at Essex, where he spent four seasons. before moving to Sussex at the end of 2014.
Ruled out of four-day cricket at his new county, Mills was told to concentrate on Twenty20. He topped Sussex’s T20 Blast statistics with 19 wickets, which earned the call-up to the England Performance squad.
“Last summer I was rocking up on a Friday evening and bowling in the warm-up, and if everything was alright, I’d play,” he said, speaking to The Telegraph. “I wasn’t training in the week.”
With no four-day cricket, and some time on his hands, Mills completed his Level Two coaching course.
The five-match series against Pakistan A will prove a decent guage of his progress over the last year.
And although the senior England squad has had successful in recent Twenty20 matches, a decent performance in the series against Pakistan A could give him a shot at the senior squad for the ICC World Twenty20 in India in March.