Cricket is perhaps the most sociable of all professional sports, with players living in each other’s pockets from April to September. After the pandemic, though, being in that dressing room environment might take some getting used to.
Just ask Pat Brown.
Worcestershire’s T20 star has hardly been short of team-mates wanting to give him a hug following his heroics at successive Finals Days, but the 21-year-old admits that he currently finds trips to the supermarket a relatively daunting experience. So, if social distancing norms persist then the dressing room might soon be a very different and difficult place.
“You walk round Tesco and you feel worried, so the thought of being in a Test venue crammed in with people seems quite a long way off,” he tells The CC.
“They might have to make the changing rooms twice the size, although they might struggle at Worcester – half of us might end up in the dining room.”
Brown himself has had a taste of life at the top table, having been handed his first England Twenty20 cap on their tour of New Zealand back in November.
It’s the thought of returning to the park with his county, however, that is keeping him going through his rehab from a stress fracture of the back and his now enforced isolation from team-mates, friends and family.
If the T20 Blast is given the green light at the end of the summer and if spectators are allowed into the stands rather than being forced to watch the match on live stream from their living rooms, then Brown is still hopeful that 2020 could prove memorable for a reason other than the coronavirus.
“Everyone will be desperate to get out of the house and go and watch some sport,” he says. “It would be weird wouldn’t it; we could go from complete lockdown to everyone being allowed out to watch the T20. It would be amazing if it did happen.
“We could pack out the ground at Worcester every night. It would be great.”
Clearly, from where we are at the moment that eventuality remains something akin to a pipe dream, but cricketers and cricket followers are a notoriously optimistic bunch.
Brown too has had to keep his spirits up after a mixed winter that saw him win international honours before flying home early from the Big Bash with a recurrence of the injury that has dogged the early part of his career.
As another by-product of the lockdown, he has to rely on Zoom catch-ups rather than face-to-face interactions with those who have helped him get his body back in shape and ready to bowl again.
“Luckily, before this all happened, I managed to get my progress scan that showed that the crack had heeled fully,” he says.
“We knew beforehand that I was able to step it up, which was good. To be honest, the way it looks right now I’m not in any worse a position than anyone else. No-one else can play for another month still, at least, so when we all come back, I should be just as fit as they are. It might just work out okay for me.”
For moment, the nets can keep, with Brown maintaining his fitness levels by pounding the streets around his new home.
“I used to be a decent runner but I’m not sure I’m that good anymore,” he says. “Twenty20 cricket, you don’t have to run so much do you!”
Like every Worcestershire member, he’ll hope that pent-up energy will have an outlet by the time late summer rolls around.