Saddled with plenty of downtime during the coronavirus shutdown, Australian cricketer Peter Handscomb has used home isolation productively by overcoming a life-long fear of horses.
Despite being married to an eventing rider, the test batsman had never dared mount a horse until being locked down at their rural property near Melbourne.
“My wife has four horses. And in seven years, I’ve refused to get on them out of sheer (being) scared of the size of them and all of that,” the 28-year-old Victorian told reporters in a video conference on Thursday.
“So the other day I actually decided, ‘Right, it’s time.’ So I jumped on a horse, we basically just went for a little walk and it was delightful.”
With virtually all domestic and international cricket suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 16-test righthander has little idea when he will be able to pad up again so he has been trying to keep fit with trail runs in the suburbs, some yoga and Pilates.
His wife, who had hopes of competing at the 2016 Rio Olympics before suffering an ankle injury from falling from a horse, may have been pleased with his efforts to clean the house — but not so much his gardening.
“In something to do to pass some time, I did a massive spring clean and basically cleaned out my cricket room, or ‘the crap room’ as my wife calls it.
“So I had to pack up a lot of stuff there. That’s all in the garage, I’m not entirely sure where it all is.
“I tried to grow my grass out the backyard to be absolutely perfect, but in doing that, I killed about half of it,” he said.
“So, I’ve got to work on that a little bit, that’s been keeping me entertained.”
Australian cricket has been hit hard by the shutdown, with governing body Cricket Australia furloughing nearly 80% of staff to shore up finances.
Players also face pay cuts, which could be steep if Australia is unable to stage the Twenty20 World Cup in October or welcome India for a lucrative test series in the home summer.
Handscomb said players hoped for a proper look at CA’s books but were also “partners” in the game and prepared to deal with good times and bad.
“It’s unprecedented times with this pandemic … There’s just a lot of unknown at the moment, which can be scary for everyone,” he said.
“It’s not just cricketers, it’s everyone around the world concerned about their jobs and where they’re going to be in a week, two weeks or a month.”