The first 2 weeks have gone by quickly surprisingly enough, I expected to be bouncing off the walls by day 2 but it’s never as bad as you initially expect. We’ve been taken care of really well by Cricket Australia thankfully, and been given weights, a few different medicine balls, resistance bands, a spin bike and a treadmill (which you had to set up yourself and has been by far the most frustrating few hours in the last 2 weeks.) Not only do you have to set the treadmill up yourself but you have to keep all the packaging inside your room for the quarantine in order to keep in line with COVID protocols. That meant booting cardboard boxes round the room like Pepe for half an hour and then stuffing them under my bed and in the closet. I feel sorry for whoever has to clean this room out because they’ll be getting a nasty shock when they open the sliding door to the closet.
Obviously, as a professional cricketer one of your main concerns about sitting in a hotel room on the other side of the world for 2 weeks is what sort of nick am I going to be in, mentally, but more importantly physically by the time I come out of quarantine, and will my body be ready for a 14+ game competition. This has meant making sure that I’m taking care of my body properly and making sure that I keep getting the right load through my hamstrings, calves, adductors and so on, and make certain that I’m getting enough high speed running sessions in on the treadmill. Obviously, there have been some slow days in here where the clock doesn’t seem to be moving and motivation has been hard to come by. So myself and Ben Dunk who was also quarantining in Sydney having come back from the PSL, have done a few workouts on FaceTime together where we’d race each other through 10 exercises that you’d have to do 50 times on each side. It doesn’t sound the most interesting thing in the world and I could see why you’d think that, but it’s been the small things like that which have helped the time pass a little bit quicker. In a nutshell, get your workouts out of the way and then you can sit on your bed and stare at the ceiling guilt free.
Briggsy (Danny Briggs) is another one who has copped for a few FaceTime calls from me in the last fortnight. If neither of us are doing a workout (for Briggsy that means sitting on his spin bike like a 2009 Ledley King who bowls twist) or watching Netflix we’ll have each other on FaceTime. I’d love to know if there’s any way of checking the cumulative time spent on the phone to one person because it would be mind blowing. Another thing Briggsy has been up to is taking Pompey from League 1 to the Premier League in 2 seasons. Rumour has it he’s completed Fifa and been offered a role in the FA because "stuff like that doesn’t go unnoticed Neil." I’m looking forward to playing with Briggsy this BBL, he’s been up there with the best for such a long period of time in domestic cricket in England and I would love to see him do well.
It’s not all been FIFA, FaceTime and doing a few workouts though, in between all of this I’ve spent a lot of time looking at my numbers in a few of the most recent competitions I’ve played in, wagon wheels, strike rates v different types of bowling and generally anything that will help give myself a deeper understanding of what I have done well and what I would like to do better. In my experience so far of franchise cricket, it is an ever changing landscape and players, coaches, pundits are always coming up with new plans and theories to better execute against you and it’s very important that you are one step ahead of them, and just as, if not more aware of your own strengths and weaknesses in order to get the best out of yourself and better judge your own performances and development. I say this and it sounds very complicated and unlike my approach on a game day but in my mind the most important thing still remains that you go out there with a smile and read and react to the game that is in front of you, because its so easy to get caught up with the finer details in a game of cricket and lose sight of what you need to do for your team right then in that moment.
Now that quarantine is coming to and end, I can’t wait to get down to Hobart and start prep for the competition with the boys. I’ve been in touch in some way or another with each of the lads since the last Big Bash and it will be good to see the boys again and get back out on the park. It’s a slightly different squad this year but it looks like we’ve made some smart moves to strengthen the squad, Franky Worrall and Matt Renshaw are a couple of really good signings and I’m looking forward to playing in the same side as both of them as well as the young lads who we have on board for their first years this season.