Warwickshire fast-bowler Olly Stone admits it will be a "bizarre" feeling when he faces his former team-mates Northamptonshire in the Specsavers County Championship at Wantage Road on Friday.
Against the club he first joined as a 13-year-old, Stone will head up the Bears pace-attack on the back of a career-best eight for 80 in the championship opener against Sussex at Edgbaston.
It came out well. We have plans for each opposing batsman and what their weaknesses might be, but I try not to overthink it. I just run in and let it go and trust my training to make me as well-prepared and hopefully dangerous as can be.Olly Stone
That was just the start to the season the 24-year-old wanted as he strives to prove his return to full form and fitness after a prolonged recovery and rehab period which followed major knee surgery.
That rehab sidelined him for the first year after he joined Warwickshire from Northamptonshire in the middle of 2016. But he made his Bears championship and T20 debuts towards the end of the 2017 season and, after a winter in Australia, is thrilled by the prospect of a first full-season with Warwickshire – and, next up, a return to Northants where he fledged in county cricket.
“It will be bizarre,” said Stone. “It’s the first time I have been back since I left in 2016 and will feel very strange to go and change in the away dressing-room at the club where I came through from the age of 13.
“Northamptonshire will always be a special place for me. They gave me my first chance and got me to the place in my career I was at when I got injured. I am really grateful for the grounding I got there and all the help and coaching I received from the likes of David Capel, David Ripley, Kevin Innes and Phil Rowe.
“I can’t wait for Friday, especially having started with a few wickets in the first game. It will be great to see some familiar friends and old faces – and hopefully I can bring a bit of inside-knowledge to our preparations for the game.”
Stone certainly hit the ground running in the opening championship match as he harvested eight for 80 on a slowish pitch which blunted most of the other seamers in the match.
“It was a good way to start and, first and foremost, great to contribute to the team at least after such a long lay-off,” he said. “It came out well. We have plans for each opposing batsman and what their weaknesses might be, but I try not to overthink it. I just run in and let it go and trust my training to make me as well-prepared and hopefully dangerous as can be.
“I was pleased to work up a bit of pace on what wasn’t a particularly quick pitch. Hopefully I can do the same sort of thing at Northampton.”