England bowler James Anderson says competing against his team-mates in virtual cycling races is the new way of keeping fit as players try to combat the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Anderson raced fellow seamers Stuart Broad and Mark Wood, with Broad winning and Anderson finishing “a close second”.
“Generally when we’re training we always have a goal in mind and without that it can be quite difficult to find a drive,” he said.
Anderson said he is in 15 WhatsApp groups with England and Lancashire players, staff and coaches to stay connected during the lockdown – and he has yet to mute any of them.
“Pushing each other along is another good thing. That sort of thing helps with the mental side of it,” he said.
“We always know there is an ear there.”
Anderson, England’s all-time leading Test wicket-taker, has not played since January, when he injured a rib in South Africa.
The 37-year-old said he had been doing workouts with his two daughters at home and had used them as weights.
“The younger one I can rep about 20 [with], the oldest about 15,” he joked.
“If cricket doesn’t happen again and there’s maybe a new Olympic sport in a few years’ time, I might get into the Olympics with that.
“Hitting a tennis ball against the wall of the house like I did when I was a kid and playing netball has been really nice – to spend that quality time with them.”
Anderson said he has been doing strength work as he does not have the space to practise bowling.
“I find myself walking around the house going through my bowling action. If you’ve not done it in the while I’ll do it in the kitchen or living room,” he said.
“At a push I could bowl against a wall, maybe, to keep the body standing used to the movements of it,” he said.
“I’m doing gym work that’s quite specific to bowling, making sure the side’s sorted.”
Could England still play in June?
England’s two-Test series in Sri Lanka in March – which Anderson was not selected for – was cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The county season has been delayed until at least 28 May, with England’s first Test of the summer against West Indies set to begin on 4 June.
The England and Wales Cricket Board is working on possible revised schedules for men and women’s international and domestic matches.
“If we are still on this sort of lockdown I can’t see that being feasible, having seven or eight days to then get back into bowling and play a Test match a week later,” Anderson said.
“But if we can get out and about in May, if that’s possible, and start training with the counties, then I can see it being a bit more feasible.
“At the minute it’s just so up in the air, I don’t want to be second guessing what’s going to happen.”
Anderson said that he would not like to play behind closed doors, telling BBC Radio 5 Live he would “rather play in front of a full crowd than no-one at all”.
Players will ‘cherish’ return to action
Anderson struggled with injury throughout 2019, missing the majority of the home Ashes series against Australia with a side problem.
He returned for the tour of South Africa but was ruled out of the final two Tests through injury.
Anderson has previously said he wants to play until he is 40.
“Cricket has been a huge part of my life for quite a number of years but you actually see the importance of it, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t that great,” he said.
“For me, if and when I do play again, I might have a different outlook on it all.
“The chance to get back out there, we’re all going to cherish that moment when we do.”