As an unseasonably sunny April gave way to a glorious May, it was difficult to stop the mind from drifting back towards Trent Bridge.
Images of the ground in its early-season glory, and memories of famous wins from years gone by, only served to heighten the yearning.
For Nottinghamshire analyst Kunal Manek, living in Lady Bay, it’s been impossible to avoid thinking of what might have been. Sometimes, even catching sight of the ground has proved almost unbearable.
“Whenever I go for a run, I tend to go in the opposite direction round Holme Pierrepont,” he says.
“If I was going past the ground quite a bit and it was empty then it would have felt weird, so I’ve chosen to separate myself.
“I didn’t mind lockdown during the first month or so. Then any novelty wore off and it’s been a struggle since.
“I have just been itching to get back up and doing my thing. I can’t wait until cricket restarts.”
“Whenever I go for a run I tend to go in the opposite direction from Trent Bridge, around towards Holme Pierrepont”
A key component of the Notts dressing room, Manek has stayed in contact with his teammates during lockdown – some of whom have made the mistake of taking on a man with an analytical mind around the virtual poker table.
“There’s been Hales, Gurney, Ball, Pricey [Liam Price, Strength and Conditioning Coach], a couple of others and their mates playing poker online,” he says.
“It has been nice getting one over some of them during the lockdown period through that.
“I’ve learnt a lot about poker actually. I’ve subscribed to something called Masterclass, so I get access to over 80 different instructors on different fields and industries, including a couple on poker.
“There’s one from Penn & Teller, the magicians, there’s Serena Williams on tennis, Gordon Ramsay on cooking, there’s loads of decent courses on there.
“I’ve been browsing quite a few of the courses, which has been really good.”
Kunal Manek: The Lockdown Lowdown
Have you been doing quizzes?
I did a lot of quizzes during the early part of lockdown, but I am all quizzed out now. I wasn’t the best quiz brain, but I’ve got better.
Have you had an at-home haircut?
No, my hair is really wild, like crazy. It’s in desperate need of a cut. I’m not letting my housemate anywhere near it. My girlfriend keeps saying she’ll cut it for me, but I don’t know if I trust her.
Have you painted a fence?
No, but I know loads of people who have. It’s definitely a thing.
Have you done any home baking?
No. No-one needs to try my home baking. I’ve eaten a lot of cake and baked goods if that is a separate question. I had my birthday in lockdown, so there were a lot of doorstep deliveries of cakes and cookies.
Manek’s lockdown checklist looks somewhat different to the norm. No home baking, no outdoor DIY, no lockdown lock-chop.
Instead, the past few months have been about expanding horizons, broadening interests and showing curiosity in the world around him.
“I built my own computer just before lockdown started, even though I’m not normally that way inclined,” he says.
“It’s started to have a few issues, so I’ve been working to resolve those, but I haven’t found the problem yet.
“I’ve also done a bit of yoga and running short distances. Home workouts are always tricky to get motivated for, but I have tried my best to do as much as I could.
“There have been weeks here and there where I have just been lazy and not got as much done as I should have, and that can make you feel down. Exercise has really helped my mood.”
Manek’s mood was not, however, aided by the timing of the lockdown.
“We had put in a lot of work through the winter, especially with our red-ball cricket, so it’s a shame it has all stopped in the way that it has"
As a gruelling pre-season approached its crescendo, with the Notts squad particularly keen to right the red-ball wrongs of 2019, the rug was whipped from under them.
“I was in the final stages of my preparation for the first few games of the season,” he says.
“We had put in a lot of graft through the winter, especially with our championship cricket, and I had done some considerable work with my student intern.
“It’s a shame it all stopped in the way it did, but it is what it is.
“I’m not really sure how my role as analyst might be different whenever we are able to start this year.
“I’ve got quite a bit of information stored away on the teams we might face anyway, so it shouldn’t take me too long to prepare for particular games.
“The pitches might be a little different after so long without cricket, but it’s really difficult to predict anything.
“When players haven’t been training or playing matches for such a long period of time, it’s hard to really know what’s going to happen.”