For those of us who set our watches by the sporting calendar, April is usually a vintage month.

But as the country grapples with the coronavirus crisis, the likes of the County Championship season and the London Marathon, for so long the events that have heralded the start of summer, are on hold.

Step forward Notts fan Rob Cross to combine the two – in his own back garden.

“I heard someone on the radio talking about running a marathon in their garden, and for some reason the idea stuck with me,” he says.

“I instantly thought of my mates Charlie and Rob, and we put our heads together and came up with the idea of doing a marathon in cricket gear, running between two sets of stumps.

“It’s not even two weeks since we had the idea, so things have moved pretty quickly since then!

“We like to think we’re in decent shape, but I think we’re deceiving ourselves really. We’re just going to have to go for it.

“We’ve been inspired by the tireless work that frontline medical staff and key workers are currently doing, and we’re just trying to bring a bit of entertainment to people in these tough times.”

“What will get all of us through is knowing that we’re helping to benefit others – and that people will get a laugh out of watching along.”

Rob Cross

The trio, who met at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, are taking on the challenge to raise funds for the NHS and cricket charity Chance to Shine.

And whilst completing 2,387 'runs' will push them to their limits, they are no strangers to tackling feats of endurance which combine physical difficulty and creativity.

Charlie’s time in lockdown has included a climb equivalent to the height of Mount Everest, achieved by running almost 300 times up a hill near his home.

Rob, meanwhile, has spent much of the past two years bringing the worlds of cricket and distance running together.

“Since 2018, I’ve run a half-marathon in each of the first-class cricket counties whilst wearing the full kit of the county I was in,” he says.

“I’ll always have fond memories of the Nottingham leg – partly because it’s a fantastic city and Trent Bridge is such an incredible ground, and partly because it was the fastest of the 18 marathons I completed.

“I was slightly surprised Rob and Charlie agreed to do this challenge with me, but they are both incredibly driven guys who are up for anything silly.”

He may be a seasoned distance-runner, but Rob knows that his reserves of mental strength will be drained by the need to push through the pain barrier – and battle the tedium of the shuttle runs.

“I did a 5k run in the garden last week in preparation, and that was fairly mind-numbing,” he admits.

“Running in gloves will be horrendous too, and it’ll be taxing on the knees because of having to push off at the end of each ‘run’.

“What will get all of us through is knowing that we’re helping to benefit others – and that people will get a laugh out of watching along.”

The challenge will be live-streamed here from 10am on Saturday 2 May, while donations can be made to the cause here.