MATT Quinn’s catalogue of injury woes throughout three years at Essex mean this is his first proper involvement in the county’s pre-season preparations.

The New Zealand seamer has spent almost as much time in surgical gowns before and after back operations too numerous to list as he has in Essex kits.

That, he says with confidence borne of a solid winter’s work behind him, is all going to change.

Quinn has just returned from Essex’s tour to Abu Dhabi, where he played in games against Somerset and Worcestershire as well as undergoing intensive net training in the heat and dust of the United Arab Emirates. Today he will be part of a seam attack shorn of Peter Siddle (wrapping up playing commitments with Victoria in Australia) and Sam Cook (representing MCC against champion county Surrey in Dubai) as Essex take on Cambridge MCCU at Fenner’s in the final warm-up outing ahead of next week’s start to their Specsavers County Championship campaign.

“Yes, it’s the first pre-season where I’ve actually been fully involved in training and games,” he admits.

“It’s been great because normally I’ve gone into the season pretty cold, not having played much cricket and having to wait a month or two to get myself up to speed.

"I guess this season I’m going to be fully fit, have a lot of overs under my belt and be selectable for the first time in two seasons.”

Quinn’s stop-start career in England has been restricted by repeated injury to just ten Championship matches across the three summers, during which he has taken 40 wickets.

Significantly, however, the 26-year-old Quinn returned to his native city of Auckland during the winter to complete a full season in the Burger King Super Smash, the domestic T20 competition in which his 11 wickets at 21.72 helped the Aces to second place before being knocked out in the play-off round.

During his spell back home he posted career-best short-form figures of four for 20, eclipsing the four for 35 he took on debut at Chelmsford in 2016.

“Going home and playing in the T20 comp back there was really good for me,” he said.

“I was able to test my body and see how it was with all my back stuff.

"My body is good, the back is fine thankfully.

"It has been good to put it under a bit of pressure, a bit of stress, to make sure it’s all OK.

"It’s given me peace of mind and it means that coming back here I don’t have that worry that I’ll have any major issues.”

Quinn stuck with the white ball for Auckland but turned out with the red ball in a few games for Cornwall, the club side he joined at the age of five.

He said: “I think Essex and myself were both keen for me not to play red-ball cricket, just purely from a body stress point of view.

"I think T20 was perfect for me so I didn’t potentially do any damage to myself ahead of the Essex season.

“This Cambridge game will be a chance for me to prove myself and show I am selectable again for the first team.

"But for me this year I’m not going to be the sort of bowler who’s going to play every game in four-day cricket.

"I’ve had a chat with Mags (head coach Anthony McGrath) and the coaching staff about how much I’m going to be used.

"I’m not really too worried about my selection – I know I will play at some stage – it’s more a case of when I play and managing my body well.

“I know myself and the club are really keen for me to last for the whole year.

"So we’ll be pretty, well not strict exactly, but careful about how much I play and when I play, but you can be sure I probably won’t play the next game.

"We’re aiming for somewhere around six or seven Championship games in the year – and I’ll be pretty happy with that.”