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James McCollum: 'It's easy to start feeling sorry for yourself, but then you get bit of perspective'


James McCollum

James McCollum

�INPHO/Tommy Dickson

James McCollum in action for Northern Knights

James McCollum in action for Northern Knights

Lorcan Doherty

James McCollum

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 speak to Ireland and Waringstown batsman James McCollum.

Q: How are you keeping?

A: Pretty well, all things considered. I have been getting used to a very laid back lifestyle. I moved back from my apartment in Belfast to my family home in Waringstown at the start of lockdown so I've been with my parents and sister for the last 10 weeks or so. Needless to say there have been a few fall-outs over the TV remote and Friday night cards but I suppose it's all worth it to have a bit of company and not having to cook for myself! I've actually managed to turn the room above the garage into a bit of a man cave which I can retreat to for some alone time when required.

It's also pretty nice being out in the country, especially with the good weather, being able to get out and about on some picturesque walking trails, although walking past the closed gates of The Lawn in 23 degree sunshine is somewhat bittersweet.

Q: How have you been affected?

A: Like a lot of people, it's basically put my life on hold. The virus came at the worst time from a cricketing perspective; players put in the hard yards throughout the winter and to some extent it now seems slightly wasted. From a day to day perspective, it's obviously tough not having that active routine that we had before. We would have been in the gym four or five times a week and while we can replace those sessions to an extent from home we haven't been able to get any training in. I have occasionally put my sister's bowling arm to the test in the back garden. Thankfully we're now back training, we had our first session at Stormont this week but there are obviously a lot of restrictions on what we can do and a lot of guidelines we have to follow.

Q: How are you keeping fit?

A: It's been tough as I've had a couple of injuries which I brought into lockdown but our strength and conditioning coach Brendan Connor and physio Mark Rausa have been great in creating a programme that works for me, pain free. We have all been given programmes with gradual progressions over the weeks to get on with, usually it's tailored to the equipment that you have handy at the house. Luckily I have managed to get my hands on a Wattbike and I've been doing two hours of rehab a day with some core work.

But I suppose I've been lucky that lockdown came when it did from an injury perspective as it's given me time to try and get back to full fitness without missing games.

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

A: Probably the same as most other people with Zoom calls to friends and colleagues and a few beers at the weekend with the family. We've had bi-weekly meetings with the players and staff at Cricket Ireland, it's nice to see everyone and have a bit of banter with the guys.

I've been doing a couple of hours of Spanish every day and I've tried to keep my mind ticking over with sports psychology books that can help me with competing in high-pressure environments.

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

A: It's easy to start feeling sorry for yourself, then you get a bit of perspective; there's a lot worse things happening to good people out there. I have access to good support networks through Cricket Ireland and the way I see it is I'm getting paid to take a break, refresh my mind and body and be ready to come back all guns blazing. There have been times throughout my career when I would have snapped your hand off for a few weeks off. But that doesn't mean I don't miss it!

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

A: The book 'Stillness is The Key' by Ryan Holiday draws on a lot of life lessons from history's greatest thinkers and the importance of taking time out (very applicable to lockdown life). The film '1917' for any world war fanatics and the box set 'The Last Dance'. If you love sport, you will be hooked.

Q: What life lessons have you learned from this?

A: Firstly, that there's a lot more to life than sport. Secondly, patience is definitely a virtue, whenever things are outside of your control you have to take a step back and accept your circumstances. Lastly, empathy. A lot of people have lost their jobs, family, friends and businesses. It's definitely made me appreciate what I have.

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

A: Probably head round to my gran's and give her a big old hug!

Belfast Telegraph