NOWRA'S Nic Maddinson concedes he is having a tough time of things since making a quick return from a broken arm.
The former Test batsman was poised to take the Big Bash League by storm after making a powerful 162 in the first innings of his Sheffield Shield debut for Victoria in December.
But things took a nasty turn when Maddinson was undone by a short ball from West Australian quick Jhye Richardson in the second innings.
The blow left Maddinson on the sidelines for a month, meaning his first game for the Melbourne Stars came mid-season.
He is yet to produce anywhere near what Stars fans would have hoped for when he signed. Maddinson has just 91 runs at 11.37 with a strike rate of 90.09 from eight innings with the Stars.
There is time left for Maddinson to make an impact, with Thursday night’s semi-final against the Hobart Hurricanes at Blundstone Arena an opportunity to put his struggles behind him.
Maddinson told Macquarie Sports Radio on Wednesday that he was finding it hard to strike form, with opposition teams targeting a perceived weakness against short-pitched bowling.
“It’s a strange game isn’t it? As soon as someone gets an injury it seems to be targeted even more after that,” Maddinson said.
“Obviously it’s been pretty difficult. I think batting at number five isn’t something I’ve done a hell of a lot either, so that’s also a challenge for me. It’s been difficult.
"I’m not going to lie and say that it’s been easy.
"I think playing that role, coming out and having five blokes on the fence, and most of them are behind the wicket, you’re going to get peppered.
"It’s definitely challenging.
"It’s taken me a little bit of a while to adapt, and I haven’t hit my straps at all.
"It’s been a tough year for me.”
With Maddinson battling and Ben Dunk unable to consistently fire, the Stars have been heavily reliant on Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis to deliver with the bat.
They have some more cover though, with NSW batsman Nick Larkin returning to the Stars’ 13-man squad for the semi.
Larkin had scored 159 runs in eight games earlier this season as a replacement player but had been denied opportunities late in the campaign with the Stars having players return from injury and international commitments.
But a quad strain suffered by Travis Dean in the Futures League earlier this week has opened the door for Larkin to come back. He replaces Jackson Coleman in the Stars’ 13.
Hobart have made one change to their squad, with James Faulkner back to face his former side following a precautionary break. Tom Rogers has been squeezed out.