Denly – Light at the end of the tunnel
Denly – Light at the end of the tunnel

This Bank Holiday weekend, Kent should have been hosting Essex at the Spitfire Ground St Lawrence in Canterbury, but sadly the only cricket to “enjoy” this weekend will be on the respective satellite channels.

For Kent’s Joe Denly, the recent weather has just added insult to injury, but as Joe told KSN this week, there is potentially light at the end of this particular bleak tunnel…

“It’s frustrating when it’s beautiful weather like this and you’re just staring out of the window looking at the blue skies just thinking about what could have been!” Joe told us, “Never mind – hopefully, it sticks around and once we do get out eventually, it’ll still be nice weather!”

“I actually haven’t been keeping an eye on where we would have been playing because I think that would just put me in an even worse mood!” Joe admitted, “I’ve tried to detach myself from what could have been, and just have a real focus on and try to enjoy each day as much as I can without thinking about the cricket too much.”

“But at the moment there is a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel, which is nice, having something potentially to look forward to with the latest announcements – cricket is certainly starting to be a bit more of a focus for myself now.”

“The return is all very structured in terms of different phases of training; we had a meeting this week to discuss in detail about what’s going to be involved in the different phases of training.”

“The bowlers will go back first, and I think that the batters are back officially on the first of June with a view to getting ready hopefully the eighth of July and the start of a Test series against the West Indies.”

Any potential return, just as with the Premier League, is going to have to be behind closed doors – an experience that Joe admits will be challenging.

He said, “It’s going to be interesting – I think at the moment as I’ve said, I’ve struggled with boredom and missing the cricket – I’ll be more than happy to give it a crack playing in front of or playing behind closed doors.”

“It is going to be strange and it’ll take some getting used to, but we’ve got a little bit of time to prepare to it. I think everyone is just going to be happy to be out there playing again – it’s going to be strange – I don’t know the full rules and regulations of what a game behind closed doors is going to entail; even celebrating wickets and stuff like that with all the bodily contact that happens there – are we not going to be allowed to do that which is going to be interesting!”

“There’s still a lot that has to be sorted, but it’s going to be a very strange situation playing a Test match / an international match with no crowd that’s for sure!”

“There are so many things that you wouldn’t think about that could now potentially be a health risk that goes on a cricket field.”

“There’s the shining of the ball; there’s lots of high fives and bodily contact that happens; the ball is rolling around a field all day and rolling in who knows what; different people touching the ball with their hands – there are so many little factors that you don’t really think about that only this pandemic has brought to light really.”

“So there’s a lot of things that the general supporter wouldn’t I suppose understand which we’re all coming to terms with. Hopefully, they can provide us with a safe enough environment, like I say, for us to get back out there and play some cricket.”

“It’s a shame that we’re not likely to see much, if any four day cricket and the “traditionalists” are going to miss out, although there are rumours that there might be a few friendly matches played – I hope that is the case – and we get as much cricket as we can squeeze in, in the short period of time I think the better for everyone.”

“But I think at the moment, the main focus in terms of having a League and something to play for in terms of the trophy will be the domestic T20 as it’s an important year for T20 with the World Cup (in Australia) at the end of the year, which I suppose at the moment isn’t guaranteed to be happening at the minute, so hopefully we can get out sooner rather than later to get things going!”

Some professional footballers have claimed it will take up to six weeks to get match fit. What about the cricketers?

“I can’t comment what it takes to be a professional footballer or how long you need to get match fit,” Joe said.

“As a cricketer, it’s slightly different in terms of what position you play – I think for the bowlers certainly it does take that sort of time because of the amount of force and energy that goes through their body especially in their delivery stride is unbelievable – I’m not sure how many times their own body weight goes through their knees and their ankles; it’s quite phenomenal which is why they’ll need time to get ready and be in the best condition they can for that first game hopefully on the eighth of July.”

“It’s a little bit different for the batters – we’re not putting too much force through our body, but I suppose again that we have to have a reasonable amount of fitness.”

“We’ve been pretty good with England and with Kent – we’ve had our training programmes to do whilst in Lockdown and we’ve kept ourselves reasonably fit.”

“Now it’s just a case of getting match fit and getting our bodies used to days in the field and overs under the bowlers’ belts and we’ll be good to go as soon as we get the green light!”