Summer usually means two things for Natalie Sciver and Katherine Brunt – cricket and travelling.
But with no women’s cricket until September at the earliest, the England internationals have been adjusting to their new normal.
“We’re converting the loft. We’re making bespoke bookshelves. We’re gardening. And we’ve got a new puppy,” Brunt laughs.
But while Bella the dog is keeping them busy – “it would have been nice to have more sleep, but she took that away from us” – the two have faced a difficult decision.
They were set to get married on 19 September in France but the pair have had to postpone their wedding until they can get their families, friends and team-mates into the same room.
“At the minute we’re looking into a registry office. I know it’s corny and all that, but it’s nice,” Brunt, 34, told BBC Sport.
“We’re going to wait until you can have a minimum of 10 people there and make it just a really nice, cute, personal get together.
“That takes all the pressure off trying to make it happen when the future is completely unknown.”
Juggling cricket & wedding planning
Planning a wedding is difficult enough, but it becomes even more complicated when the brides, maid of honour and majority of guests play international cricket.
The two, who announced their engagement in October, had designed their wedding around a summer that included limited-overs series against South Africa and India.
“When we had the meeting with the England and Wales Cricket Board last year we said, ‘right, when have we got time off?'” Brunt explains.
“They said we finish at the end of August so, brilliant, we’ll book it in September.
“We decided to go for the second week of September. Then Isa Guha [ex-England cricketer and BBC commentator] gets back to me – she can’t make that week.
“She’s one of my closest friends, so… not that I moved a wedding for you, Ish, but I did!”
Their season was actually set to end on 16 September, so a new plan was hatched: play against India, fly to Chamonix the next day, spend a few days stressing out and then, last but not least, enjoy the wedding.
But with coronavirus limiting travel, the two had a decision to make. They could either postpone the wedding, or go ahead with next to no guests.
“All our best friends are part of the England team, so if we didn’t want any of them there, we could just go ahead,” Brunt says.
“But my maid of honour is Amy Jones. There was talk of myself, Natalie and Amy not being part of any cricket this year, so that we would have the opportunity to stick with our plans and go ahead with the wedding, but it’s just too much of a dent.
“Releasing Amy would not have been the right thing to do for England cricket.”
As for Bella, she was meant to be a surprise for Sciver, 27, when she returned from the Women’s T20 Challenge in India, which was scheduled for March.
“Me and Nat have never had our own dog together. They’re so lovely and comforting,” Brunt says.
“She’s in the terrible twos phase that children get in. She’s actually not that bad, but on the scale of how we’ve been training her, we find it bad.”
“She started off too well behaved, so now when she does have a naughty streak, it’s a bit much,” Sciver adds.
‘We’ll smash it and she’ll have to fetch it!’
Brunt and Sciver had just returned from the T20 World Cup in Australia, where England reached the semi-finals before being eliminated by rain, when the pandemic began.
Brunt was unable to train for six weeks after falling ill, while Sciver has had to practise in the back garden.
“We didn’t leave the house – we went to the Tesco four times in the first month and that was it. It was a bit weird,” Sciver says.
England will resume individual training on 22 June, with Brunt and Sciver training together as part of their “household bubble”.
Temperatures will be taken as they arrive for training and there will be weekly tests to check the players’ health.
Head coach Lisa Keightley, who recently returned from Australia to prepare for the international summer, will be the only other person at training – which is bad news for her.
“Lisa has to keep her distance, but she’s the only one that can handle the balls,” Brunt adds.
“So that’s going to be great for her – we’ll smash it and she has to fetch it. She’ll be livid.”