Chris Tremlett column: The secret life of a domestic cricketer
I haven't missed playing at all since I announced my retirement in August last year, although that’s more to do with being in quite a lot of pain towards the end of my career due to injuries.
With the domestic campaign up and running again, I wanted to give a flavour of what it’s like being a county cricketer. For a lot of casual followers of the game this means a series of names on a load of scorecards.
That, however, doesn’t necessarily do justice to how all-encompassing the game is during the season and how physically and mentally tiring it can be. It’s a long, hard slog at times and it can feel like groundhog day; you wake up and do the same things time and again.
After a four-day match you’re mentally and physically knackered and all you want to do is have a few days off but quite often there will be a one-day or Twenty20 match in the next day or two, and that could be anywhere in the country.
One of the things I miss the most is walking into a dressing room and having banter with 20 or so lads and it’s so vitally important to have that. Going out for dinner after seven or eight hours in the field to weigh up the day is also important, and another fond memory.
It’s crucial to be able to have a laugh, joke and enjoy your team environment, especially on mornings when you turn up and everyone’s grumpy because they spent 96 overs in the field for scant reward the previous day.
Your team-mates are like family. You’re playing with each other four or five days a week and when you add in travelling or sponsors' days, you’re spending a massive amount of time together.
Sometimes you get under each other’s skin and there are occasions you want to go home and not see these people for a few weeks but that’s not often possible during the summer months.
Being an idiot
It’s also impossible to get along with everybody. There are always going to be a couple of people in any squad who you may not see eye to eye with and most players have probably had a coach or two they haven’t gelled with.
I had a couple of coaches in my career whose methods I didn’t particularly agree with but you’ve got to deal with that and do what’s best for the team. The best dressing rooms – and the current England side is probably the best example of this – are the really honest ones.
If somebody isn’t pulling their weight or being a bit of an idiot, it’s about being man enough to be honest and tell them that they're being a prat. There can be cliques in dressing rooms and guys whispering behind people’s backs but in the best ones someone will shout out if there’s a problem.
Ultimately, I couldn’t have asked for a better job or lifestyle, and when you come out into the real world you notice a massive difference. I really did enjoy the hard graft and, as a bowler, the challenge of patience to see who will break last.