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Gary Wilson: There will be a time when we see packed stadiums again and we're all excited for that

 

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Gary Wilson

Gary Wilson

Gary Wilson

Gary Wilson

�INPHO/Oisin Keniry

Gary Wilson

We are asking our sporting personalities how they are dealing with action coming to a halt because of the coronavirus pandemic and how it has affected their daily lives. Today, we talk to former county cricket professional Gary Wilson. He has now returned home to play for Civil Service North and has played 292 games for Ireland, leading them to this year's T20 World Cup.

 

Q: How are you keeping?

A: Okay. It's a frustrating time for everyone but we are all in the same boat and you just want everyone - family, friends and the wider community - to stay safe. Meantime, everything else takes a back seat.

Q: How have you been affected?

A: I have a toddler, Oliver, and have been trying to keep him busy but he is very good. I'm actually taking the opportunity to potty-train him and he is doing really well. It's nice to spend time with him and my wife, Jen. Professional cricketers are used to being away for long periods of time and while you wouldn't change your career for anything, you do have to make sacrifices and family is one of them. In the first year of Oliver's life I was probably away for four or five months of it so it's nice to be able to spend a lot of time with him.

Q: How are you keeping fit?

A: We have a programme from Brendan Connor, the Ireland strength and conditioning coach, so trying to follow that and doing body weight exercises in the back garden. I've also been doing a bit of road running which I enjoy. You don't get that opportunity off the back of playing games because of tiredness.

Q: How are you maintaining morale, yours and the team?

A: There is a lot of WhatsApp group activity, plenty of banter flying around, a few Zoom calls and getting a few funny videos sent through. Basically, looking for anything to keep you busy. But we are a pretty close group and it's great to keep in touch, not just the Ireland players but also Civil Service North; Marc Ellison has been sending sports quizzes to our group. That's been fun.

Q: Where are you drawing your personal strength from now?

A: I had five months out with illness last year and I suppose that has prepared me for a long absence from cricket. I was pretty much on lockdown myself then so it's not the first time I have experienced something like this.

It's not easy but, as I said before, things could be a lot worse. You just want everyone to come through it safely. Sport will still be there when this is all over and everyone just has to remember that. I love sport, not just cricket, so I miss watching football, rugby, horse racing and golf on the television.

Q: Can you recommend a book, film or box set that stay at home sports fans might enjoy?

A: I wouldn't be much of a reader but I like the BBC dramas Liar and The Nest which have been on recently and I would recommend both of those. And the only film I'm watching at the moment is Peter Rabbit when Oliver is around!

Q: What life lessons are you learning from this?

A: I have noticed everyone is a lot friendlier when you pass them in the street. We live in a development and you stop to talk to people when you are out for your daily walk. Everyone can learn from this and realise that it's not hard to be nice and stop and say hello to people. Whenever this is all over I think you might see a bit of change in behaviour in general and that would be one good thing to come out of this. Whether you are a sportsman or whatever, maybe stop and think before you speak or write something.

Q: What is the first thing you will do when this is all over?

A: Head to the first tee at Belvoir Park Golf Club. Golf courses might be one of the first things to open again, although obviously as cricketers we are hoping to get out on the pitch as soon as we can. I think everyone wants that but it has to be safe to do so.

Q: And your message to sports fans?

A: Stay safe. Irish sports fans are the best, they always come out and support. Hopefully we will be back playing as soon as possible and while Ireland's games against New Zealand and Pakistan are still in doubt, maybe they can even take place behind closed doors. But there will be a time when you will see packed stadiums again, whatever the sport, and that's what everyone is looking forward to.

Belfast Telegraph