THE father of Trowbridge cricketer Billy Cookson says there’s still a long road ahead before his son will be able to come home from Australia to Chippenham.

The Trowbridge Cricket Club and Wiltshire CC minor counties batsman and wicket keeper was seriously injured in a head-on car crash in Australia in October.

Matthew Cookson said: “There’s still a long way to go and often what is frustrating is the perception that he is further along that road than he actually is.

“The current situation is one of continuous physio to further improve his strength in all areas and continue to develop his walking, which he is now doing via a zero gravity machine, which restricts the weight bearing on his legs to 30 per cent.”

Billy, 23, from Chippenham, left hospital for the first time to spend Christmas Day in Kyabram with his close friends, Brenton and Bianca Sheppard and their family, who provided him with a room above their bar, but he has not yet been medically discharged.

Mr Cookson suffered punctured lungs, a torn liver, a broken right leg and both ankles, and a shattered right arm in the accident.

After weeks of physiotherapy he is now able to get out of bed, stand, get in and out of a wheelchair, bathe, dress himself, use a toilet and leave hospital to buy provisions unaided.

But he still faces further physio on his right hand and further surgery to maximise its potential. He is also waiting for an operation on his right elbow to fit a non-moving joint which will allow the removal of an external frame.

His father said: “Once completed, he will be left with a fixed arm which will never bend and a wrist joint that will never twist.”

Surgeons are waiting for custom parts to arrive before they conduct surgery at the end of January.

Mr Cookson added: “There is also a plan to do further work on his femur at the same time to fit an external frame to allow the bone to grow and bridge the 100mm gap of missing bone.

“This could leave him in the frame for three months with no ability to predict whether he will be able to increase any weight bearing during this period. Billy is still very positive even though he knows this. This will then mean more physio for more months.

“We still have no real idea of when he would be able to get back to the UK. We just take each point as it comes and go from there.

“We still consider ourselves very lucky. I am sure Billy will continue to amaze us with his approach, determination and the actual speed at which he will continue to progress.”

Billy had travelled to Melbourne to play cricket for Kyabram Cricket Club and was working on his first day as a delivery driver for Mr Nelson’s business when the accident happened.

He said his physiotherapy had been “full-on” with two sessions a day. “I’ll get a frame on my leg while they try to grow back the bone I lost in my femur, and it looks like I’ll be able to weight-bear up to about 30 per cent,” he said.

“There’s no pain there which is encouraging and my next step is to be able to get up and walk. It’s unbelievable that in such a short period of time how you forget to pick your feet up.”

Mr Cookson had played only two games as an opening batsman for Kyabram Cricket Club in Australia but had already impressed the club’s coaches with his enthusiasm and skills.

He had been given a job as a full-time delivery driver by Mr Nelson, who is a store manager for Repco Echuca.

Mr Cookson had been taking a toolbox to a Repco client in Cohuna when his pick-up truck collided head-on with a bus.

He was taken to the Royal Melbourne Hospital and placed into an induced coma after undergoing emergency surgery.