Cricket’s back! Well, almost…

In the past few weeks, domestic cricketers have all returned back to training after receiving the news of a county cricket restart from August 1. This is extremely exciting and combined with the restart of recreational cricket last weekend, as well as the behind-closed-doors test match; it’s been a great week for the sport.

There has been some debate over whether we have got the mix of formats right for the rest of the season. But, if the truth be told, I’m ambivalent on the formats we’ll be playing. Perhaps playing four-day cricket gives specific red and white ball contracted cricketers opportunities to play but there is no doubting that one day cricket is logistically simpler. Either way, there’s going to be a serious spike in my petrol expenditure!

Returning to training as been great, if not a little comical. The first session or two was a mixture of genuine excitement to be back doing what you love and seeing the lads again but also a little caution about the protocols in place for us to be training.

Individual travel, temperature testing and track and trace forms were presumably to be expected but it is particularly amusing seeing the physio’s get their knickers in a twist to ensure guidelines are followed to ensure a safe practice environment.

This is particularly the case when a player requires ‘essential’ physio treatment. For a player to benefit from treatment, physios require full PPE attire of apron, mask, gloves and goggles – something more appropriate in an operating theatre, rather than a cricket outfield just to strap the odd fast bowler’s ankle!

On the whole, once you’ve been given the green light to get into the nets, training runs pretty smoothly and as normal. The actual training is probably the most ‘normal’ aspect of the whole situation.

That being said, as there is a ‘one skin one ball policy’, batters take great pleasure in bunting the ball back to the bowlers after striking it, or even hitting it out the net and leaving the bowler to go fetch their own ball; they thought bowlers’ used to be grumpy, try now!

It is particularly amusing when a ball is travelling towards you on the outfield and you go to stop it before remembering you shouldn’t bend down to field it. This leads to an awkward, half-hearted attempt to kick it down or somehow stop it in its tracks. And yes, shins have taken some nasty blows.

Once you’ve grasped this nonsense, nature calls and you need to visit the toilet. Except you can’t without having to look up which toilet is ‘your’ toilet. We’ve been allocated bathrooms in pairs and have been encouraged to tell our partner when we’ve been so that they can be ‘extra vigilant’.

Humour aside, being back at training has been great and it’s probably made a lot OF us realise just how much we’ve missed it. More than anything it’s the camaraderie and seeing the lads again – it’s like pre-season all over again.

Mind you, as we’re training in small groups or ‘bubbles’, once you’ve arrived, the last group are going so it’s a case of a socially distant wave or dig at your teammate as they get into their cars.

Meanwhile, we’re looking forward to seeing how the behind-closed-doors test match goes this week; the ECB have made a huge effort to get it on and assuming it runs smoothly, it will be hugely significant in the well-being of the game across all levels moving forward.

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