As part of our Life in Lockdown series, Assistant Head Coach Paul Franks explains how he’s coped with the situation so far, why his household has been a haven for sweet treats and feelings of family pride being at an all-time high.
It’s a peculiar time in the world of Paul Franks.
After many years representing Nottinghamshire as a player before transitioning into the coaching setup, Franks has seen every kind of pre-season.
However, for the first time in his career, the Assistant Head Coach hasn’t been either facing, or flinging, the Dukes red ball in the months of April and May.
Instead, like a large number of workers, he has been forced to adjust to a new way of living brought about by COVID-19.
For Franks, together with cricketers, coaches and support staff up and down the land, lockdown arrived at a time when they were in peak condition and ready to put months of hard work into practice.
“The lockdown feels like it has lasted forever,” he said.
“To have been so close to the season and then have everything stalled has been quite challenging from a mental and physical point of view.
“During the first few weeks, no-one was quite sure what would happen next.
“I think we knew it wasn’t going to be a short-term break, but we didn’t know how long it was going to take.
“I managed to gradually relax at the start and put cricket to the back of my mind for a few weeks.
“If I was sat by the phone every day, waiting for a call saying you can come back to training, I would have risked putting myself in a much worse place.”
Have you had an at-home haircut?
Yes. The first one was more luck than judgement. The second one wasn’t great, so that lasted 24 hours before it had to be tweaked. But, on the whole, there has been some impressive work.
Have you done a quiz?
Yes, but we’ve retired for a while. After ten weeks of three quizzes a week, I think my knowledge of capital cities of the world has gone through the roof.
Have you done any home baking?
Yes, lots of home baking. Everybody did banana bread at one point. I had a bread-maker bought for me a few years back, so that has come out of the box and been put to good use.
The girls have been doing all sorts; cookies, brownies et al, so there has been quite a lot of treats knocking around in the Franks household, which has been great.
Have you painted a fence?
Yes, I painted a fence. We did it right at the start when the weather was great.
Have you taken up any new hobbies?
No. I’m a creature of habit. I like to do what I like to do. I’m not one of these blokes who adds things for the sake of it.
With his wife, Helen, working full-time, Franks has found himself heavily involved in home-schooling his two daughters.
And even though his methods are not fully up to date, it’s a new dynamic which has led the former all-rounder to feel a renewed sense of immense pride in his wife and children.
“Algebra is not my thing,” said Franks.
“The kids have worked their socks off and the wonderful spring weather helped because it allowed us to get outside.
“The challenge came when we needed to crack on and I needed to be the teacher. I think a lot of the current ways of learning aren’t how I was doing it 25 years ago.
“They’re both active kids and have missed their mates. Having their routine stopped like that was a difficult thing to work out.
“However, they have got to that place, have handled it very well and I am very proud of them for what they have achieved during this time.
“My wife has been working flat out throughout lockdown, so my respect for her job and attitude has gone to a whole new level as well.”
With lockdown restrictions sufficiently eased, Franks has at least been able to make something of a sporting, if not cricketing, return.
Golf has given the former all-rounder his competitive fix ever since retirement from First-Class cricket in 2015, and a return to the course in recent weeks has provided welcome relief.
“There have perhaps been times when I have been hard to live with, especially as I wasn’t able to get out for a game of golf in the first eight weeks,” he admits.
“I have quite a lot of friends away from the game of cricket who I play golf with. It’s been nice to get out and step back into that social aspect, albeit at a safe distance.
“I love my golf and it has allowed to me stay competitive in a sport after finishing my cricketing career.
“I’ve still got work to do to be back playing how I was pre-lockdown, but I’m just happy to be out there.”
Here’s hoping this Nottinghamshire immortal will once again be swapping the nine-iron for the dog-thrower in the not too distant future.