From growing his coaching business, to studying for a finance diploma and starting a role as PCA representative, Anuj Dal has had little difficulty in keeping busy during lockdown.
Born out of a desire to remain productive and positive, all the while missing the traditional busy summer of cricket, the 23-year-old has focused on a number of projects away from the professional game which he hopes will benefit his return to cricket.
With one-to-one coaching safe to return in amateur cricket, Dal has kept a full diary of bookings, using his coaching company to build a potential career outside of cricket, while giving him the opportunity to mentor future generations.
“With coaching allowed to resume, that’s been keeping me more than busy,” he said. “Last week I had 28 sessions of coaching and I’m still doing my finance diploma and I’m revising for that.
“When I initially started my coaching company (Purpose Cricket), I had a vision of how I wanted it to look and I wanted an online application for technical videos and tutorials.
“It will be so rewarding to have this available for a lot of people and hopefully people think ‘wow, this guy means business.’”
“As a professional, we help coach the pathway at the club and I had a good opportunity to hold a four or five-hour session with the club’s Under-14 team over the winter.
“For me, it’s about being able to contribute to their development and mentor them into the Academy, then pushing into the Second Team and hopefully beyond.”
Seeing success off-the-field, coupled with a growing confidence which has come from taking on a new role as Derbyshire’s player representative to the Professional Cricketer’s Association (PCA), the all-rounder is reaping the rewards of putting less pressure on himself.
By trusting his ability and playing with a greater freedom, Dal saw improved on-field performances towards the end of last summer, including a career-best bowling performance of 3-11 against Sussex at The Incora County Ground.
“It’s a horrible time for everyone, but to have been able to further these other projects I have alongside cricket has been beneficial for me and I am grateful for those opportunities,” said Dal.
“This period has brought my relationship with the senior group a lot closer. Being a PCA representative for the guys, I have to stay in constant contact with them and that’s great.
“I turn to them for advice on what will work well for the squad and my relationship with Billy [Godleman] has developed massively. As a player, I look up to him hugely and off the pitch he has great attributes as a person.
“Of course, I’d much prefer to be in training with the squad, learning with them and from them, but the PCA role has helped me grow as a person.
“Taking over from Daryn [Smit] was tough as he was excellent in his role, but I enjoy the responsibility and am pleased to be a voice for the players and feedback to the PCA.
“As individuals, we put so much pressure on ourselves because we want to do well and succeed at a high level.
“But that can become too much and if all your eggs are in one basket, it’s very difficult to perform consistently.
“Having an avenue outside of the game to fall back on takes a weight off your shoulders and lets you go out there on the pitch and enjoy it.
“I noticed it towards the end of last season in those three or four Championship games and I just played with freedom and saw better results.
“I came back into winter training after that and felt so fresh and had a desire to improve, knowing I’d had that mental breakthrough.
“Cricket has understandably taken a backward step at the moment, but once we are able to get back I’ll be ready and I can’t wait.”
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