Duanne Olivier spent lockdown bowling at a duvet pinned up in his back garden whilst at home in South Africa.
If his three-wicket burst with the new ball in the second innings of the win against Nottinghamshire earlier this week is anything to go by, it was inspired preparation for the big fast bowler.
They must make strong bed sheets in South Africa, you might say!
But Olivier believes his unconventional training methods at the height of the Coronavirus pandemic helped him gain more confidence in his action ahead of the shortened county summer.
Olivier, 28, returned to Emerald Headingley in February for the latter stages of pre-season and spent a week in Mumbai on pre-season tour.
When that trip was cut short, however, and the season delayed, he returned home to the Rainbow Nation.
“Back home we went into lockdown for two months where you couldn’t go away from the house or anything like that,” he said.
“But I was just training in my garden.
“I mainly used tennis balls. It was good because I was focusing on technical things – being strong at the crease.
“That was something I felt I needed to improve on after last season.
“The stuff myself and Rich (Pyrah, bowling coach) worked on before I went back home, I continued doing.
“I know it’s not the same as bowling outside (in the nets), but with Covid around you have to adapt and find new ways.
“Then, two or three weeks before I came back over here, I slowly started bowling outside again.
“I then had two intra-squad games to get used to a full day in the field.
“I’m happy with the way I’ve been bowling.”
Olivier had to quarantine for a week upon his return to England early last month, hence the reason why he was not ready to face Durham in the opening round of the Bob Willis Trophy.
But he sparked Yorkshire’s stunning defence of 188 on day four at Notts with three wickets in a fiery opening spell.
He will hope to build on that when Yorkshire welcome his former county and fellow pacesetters Derbyshire to Emerald Headingley for the third of five North Group games, starting on Saturday.
Both sides have won two from two, so this is a key fixture in the race for top spot and potentially a place in the final at the end of September.
“Derbyshire have been playing some good cricket, and it will be a tough game,” he said.
“It’s very exciting. We have two trophies to win, and we’re in a good position.
“If we stay on it for long enough, everything else will look after itself.”
Duanne992</a> is back bowling ????????????<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/OneRose?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#OneRose</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BobWillisTrophy?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BobWillisTrophy</a> <a href="https://t.co/IW61trOTqc">pic.twitter.com/IW61trOTqc</a></p>— Yorkshire CCC (YorkshireCCC) August 11, 2020
Olivier spent the first half of 2018 with Derbyshire, but last year – his first with Yorkshire – was his first full campaign in English county cricket.
He finished as the White Rose’s leading County Championship wicket-taker with 43 wickets in 13 matches, although accepted he was far from at his best.
Captain Steve Patterson’s take on it is that he put too much pressure on himself to perform last year and has urged him to relax.
“I feel confident (on these pitches) now,” he Olivier, having taken his 450th first-class wicket at Trent Bridge and his 50th for Yorkshire.
“I might not always get it right, but I’m confident I will most of the time.
“Last year when I tried to bowl fuller, I felt like it came out a little bit floaty.
“But I felt like when I did go fuller (against Notts), it came out at good pace. I’m happy with where I am in terms of trying to be better.”
Yorkshire will continue to be without fellow seamers Ben Coad (oblique muscle tear) and Matthew Fisher (abdominal muscle tear) when Derbyshire visit.
But, more long-term, Olivier is hugely excited by the fast bowling talent at Headingley and insists the future is bright, indicated by an encouraging first-team debut for 19-year-old Dom Leech against Notts.
He added: “Fish bowled unbelievably well against Durham, Coady as well. I was so happy for them. Unfortunately, they’ve got injuries at the minute, but we have a very strong bowling core.
“Jared Warner hasn’t played yet, Maty Pillans. There are so many who could come in and fill a spot.
“It’s great to have people pushing for places, and we have plenty of other good young fast bowlers coming through as well.”