In his first column for BBC Sport, Australia pace bowler Pat Cummins discusses life behind the scenes on tour, lockdown on a farm, and why the one-day series against England starting on Friday is so important.
The result may not have gone how we wanted in our Twenty20 series, but it has been really good to get over to play some cricket in England.
Having not played a match for six months, it has been a lot of fun catching up with team-mates and spending time together.
I have found playing without a crowd a lot weirder than I thought.
I watched bits of England’s Test series against West Indies and Pakistan. On the television coverage it looked really normal, but when you come out to play it is so different.
Waiting to bowl your first ball in deadly silence is so strange, although it does provide more opportunity to sledge your team-mates.
You will hear a lot of funny nicknames being yelled across the ground. I am not going to tell you mine because I am not happy with it and it is starting to stick with the boys…
F1 star Starc and Warner the barista
The tour has been a lot of fun. We have plenty of spare time in the bio-secure bubble and we have been well looked after. In Southampton we had a pool table, a golf simulator, a driving simulator, table tennis and darts, as well as the golf course at the ground.
Mitchell Starc is very good on the Formula 1 simulator. If he goes into F1 he’d surely be the tallest driver in history.
I have played a few rounds of golf but I must admit I’m not great. Davey Warner is probably the best. He has been shooting three or four over par and his handicap is 10, so we are all questioning how that works. The boys love it and it does get very competitive.
Our team dining room looked out over the 18th hole, which is a par three over the water. The nerves are usually going when you get to that one. It’s like the 17th at Sawgrass – and I have been in the water a few times.
The other big thing for us is coffee and it’s not just about Adam Zampa’s Love Cafe. Marnus Labuschagne and Davey have also brought machines over.
Like Zampa, Marnus has scales and puts in a lot of care and detail every time he makes a cup. I have got the hotel room next door him and I hear the coffee machine go on every morning. I open my balcony door and he has got a flat white waiting for me. I’m very happy with the current situation.
I must say Davey’s coffee is really good as well, although his is more like coffee from an airport lounge – good coffee that he keeps churning out. There is always someone at his door.
The whole squad is really close and there are smaller groups within the squad which people spend a lot of time in.
Us fast bowlers get along well, especially with a most of us coming from New South Wales.
Then there is Marnus and Steve Smith. Those two are really close and are normally comparing coffee, talking about batting or whatever else those two strange blokes get up to together.
During lockdown we kept our team WhatsApp group going. There was a lot of information about training from the management, but it was often Davey doing the talking – after he had found a funny meme or something else to write about.
It was normally directed at poor Marnus but in an endearing way. We love Marney.
Lockdown DIY on the farm
For me, lockdown was a great opportunity to get away from the game and spend time on our farm.
On tour as a cricketer you wake up in a different bed every week so I loved the chance to have a set morning routine.
I am lucky my fiancee and I have some acreage, which gave me the chance to do all kinds of jobs that I don’t normally get chance to do.
I planted some new grass, fixed a few fences and cut up some trees. For an experienced farmer or builder all of these jobs would probably take half a day. For me it took a week because I have no idea what I am doing.
I also re-did a kitchen myself which, again, took much longer than I expected. Thankfully, it hasn’t broken yet.
There are quite a few cricketers who have similar set-ups. Brett Lee has a farm near me, Zampa has just moved on to one, and then there’s Alastair Cook in England.
Now, though, my focus is back on cricket.
The Ashes may be only 14 months away but during this tour my mind has more been set on the T20 World Cup next year, and the one that follows in 2021.
England have been the best team in world in 50-over cricket since the 2015 World Cup, so the one-day series that starts on Friday is another really good chance to test ourselves against them.
We haven’t played our best one-day cricket in this country for a while – we had a really good World Cup last year but were outplayed by England in the semi-finals.
A series win over here against England would be a big nod to how far we have come.
Pat Cummins was speaking to BBC Sport’s Matt Henry.
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