If you want tips on how to get through isolation, Duanne Olivier is your man. The Yorkshire fast bowler is currently in the midst of his sixth separate spell of quarantine as he prepares for the forthcoming county season.
Since the start of last year’s shortened summer, the South African has racked up more than a month of keeping his own company.
Some have been more fun than others. Take this last few weeks as an example.
With South Africa on the UK government’s ‘red list’, he was unable to fly directly to England. That meant he had to fly elsewhere quarantine for 10 days before landing in the UK for another 10 days of the same.
That stopover destination? The Maldives.
Of course, it sounds marvellous, but it was also the safest place available given the other option of Kenya had potential for going on the red list to further complicate his journey.
“I’m quarantining in Leeds at the moment, just behind the stadium,” he said. “You could say I’m an expert, but it’s still something to get used to.
“It’s still boring even though there was a bit of suntanning in the Maldives.
“When I came over here last year, the first 10 days I did in the UK was quite tough. I didn’t have my wife with me, but she is now. That makes things easier.
“We have been watching series on Netflix and TV shows. It’s a great time to work through those.
“We’ve been watching Behind Your Eyes, which is pretty good. I also like watching Friends over and over again. I never fall asleep to it. I love Friends – it’s one of my favourite TV series.
“At the end of the day, you have to try to find a way of making it suitable for you and not think too much into it.
“I also like playing Playstation games, which keeps me busy.
“Last year, England were playing against Pakistan, so I watched a bit of that to take my mind off counting down the days.”
Before last summer, it was revealed that part of Olivier’s preparations through lockdown in South Africa involved bowling at a bedsheet in his back garden.
This year, ahead of his third campaign with Yorkshire, things have been a bit more conventional for a 28-year-old who won the inaugural Lanka Premier League with Jaffna Stallions in December.
“After I got back from Sri Lanka, I took Christmas and New Year off,” he said.
“I then trained in Port Elizabeth with the Warriors for eight to nine weeks before heading over here. I was able to keep up my bowling workloads, bowling between 15-25 overs per week.
“I also got a bit of gym equipment in my house.
“I wanted to get started early because I knew I would lose a bit in these 20 days of quarantine.
“Last season, Coronavirus was just starting and everything was new. I flew over, did my quarantine and then had to start playing because the season was so short.
“At least, I’ve had some good preparation, and I’m very happy about that.”
Olivier, who comes out of quarantine early next week, is confident he will be ready to face Glamorgan at Emerald Headingley in the LV= County Championship opener on April 8.
He said: “I will speak with management to see how they view it and how I feel. But, for me, I like to play. If I can play every game, that would be ideal.”
In two seasons, the former international has claimed 53 wickets in 17 Championship or Bob Willis Trophy games, including two five-wicket hauls – a return he describes as “Ok”.
He expanded: “For my standards, I’m not satisfied with that.
“My first year, I did ok. But there was a lot of improvement. Last year was difficult to judge on what you did and what you want to achieve because the season was shortened. It was crazy.
“But what I worked on with Rich (Pyrah) last year helped me massively. I didn’t get the results I wanted, but the plans and thinking going forwards was massive for me. I’m happy with that.
“Last year was different circumstances, but this year I can control it a lot better. I’m looking forward to the season starting now and it being a full season. At the end of the day, I want to be the best.”
Olivier is part of a hugely exciting fast bowling department at Emerald Headingley.
“If you look at last year when guys got injured, giving opportunities to youngsters was brilliant,” he continued. “Those who played did tremendously.
“We now know that if injuries come again, we can push on their buttons to fill that spot.
“Last year was definitely great when building for the future. As a bowling squad, it’s so exciting. We all offer something so different.”
He has opened the bowling and bowled first change in red ball cricket for the White Rose, and he is happy with either role. Basically, whatever is best for the team.
Olivier is very keen on playing more white ball cricket than he has done in the last two years, and could form a fearsome pace partnership with fellow Vitality Blast overseas Lockie Ferguson from New Zealand: “That will be exciting,” he said.
Another couple of exciting prospects in 2021 are the return of crowds to grounds and Yorkshire’s realistic hopes of claiming silverware.
“Crowds make a massive difference,” he admitted. “When they are allowed back in, it will be great.
“It gives you that bit of extra adrenaline rush to hear the crowds cheering and singing. I love it. When there’s no crowds, it can be difficult to get your intensity up. But when there is a crowd, you feel you’re in the game all of the time.
“I 100 percent believe we can win trophies this year.
“Over the last two years that I’ve been involved, we’ve been very consistent in four-day cricket and have played well. There have only been one or two bad games which cost us.
“Last season, we finished top of our group but unfortunately didn’t get enough points.
“In four-day cricket, we know our strengths and weaknesses and what we need to work on going forwards.
“In white ball cricket, there’s always room for improvement. We played some good T20 cricket last year, but at stages made some silly errors. If we can cancel those out, we will definitely improve as a team.”
For the first two years of his three-year deal at Yorkshire, Olivier was classed as a Kolpak player. But Brexit has ended that qualification, and he is now an overseas player.
That, in theory, opens the door for him to return to international cricket with South Africa in the future. However, that is something he will only think seriously about later down the line.
“For me, it’s just about focusing on the job in hand, which is this season with Yorkshire,” he added. “I want to have a very good season personally and for the team.
“I don’t think too far ahead. I just want to have a good season with Yorkshire and see how far we can push ourselves.”