WHEN you do the hard graft in the gym over the winter months, you should at least be able to strut your stuff when it comes to showtime in the summer.

Dorset-born David Payne was all set to perform on the biggest stage of his career this season, lining up alongside an array of global superstars to make history in the inaugural tournament of The Hundred.

But instead of taking to the field alongside the likes of Australia’s Steve Smith and Mitchell Starc, as well as England wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow, the Gloucestershire seamer has had to make do with re-learning the guitar, sketching, and sprinting down the street.

Not only has the Lytchett Matravers-raised left-arm paceman not picked up a cricket ball in months, the coronavirus pandemic has also postponed his £40,000 draft to the Welsh Fire for The Hundred.

Bournemouth Echo:

Currently one of thousands of workers around the nation on furlough leave, Payne knows it will be a good while yet before county cricket re-emerges.

All professional cricket has been postponed until at least July 1. The Hundred was officially put back until 2021 at the end of April.

“Slowly but surely I’ve got my head around it but it doesn’t change the fact that, personally, this felt like a really big year for me,” the former Parley youngster told the Daily Echo.

“Being back in Division One with the team, I had huge aspirations – with a couple of T20 World Cups round the corner – that I could push my name for the cause for that.

“I wanted to try to do well in The Hundred, have another good year in the T20 Blast and it’s increasingly likely that we might not get out there at all, unfortunately.

“That is probably the most gutting thing at the moment. All winter has been highlighted as a big summer of opportunities and feeling like I was right on the brink of trying to push into England.

“It’s been a real kick in the teeth for those goals. There is still a little bit of hope that something could happen but I am not holding out too much and it’s out of our control.”

Based in Bristol with his wife Millie, who works for the NHS as a midwife, 29-year-old Payne has been trying to keep his mind fresh while waiting to return to doing what he loves.

“Your whole life from 16 with Gloucestershire is almost mapped out,” added Payne, who also represented Bournemouth as a teenager.

“They tell you when you are training. You have your routine, know when the games are and roll along with it.

“Now it’s just the complete opposite. Every day you wake up and it’s all your own time – it’s crazy really.

“We have been lucky enough to have a psychologist working with us for the past year at Gloucestershire. He has not been furloughed, so that we can still stay in contact with him.

“He has been really helpful to catch up with once a week or so and talk about how we are all doing.

“I’ve pretty much got my head round the fact that I’d like to be a coach after playing, so I had a think about that and what I could do to help myself in the future.

“I’ve also started learning the guitar again, doing some sketching, as I’ve always been keen on a bit of art.

“There have certainly been dull days. We are trying to do our training from home amongst it, which is not quite the same. We have to do what we can to be in the best possible shape.

“I pop off down a residential street and have to sprint up it a few times. People are looking out their windows thinking I’m mad!”

Bournemouth Echo:

Luckily when Millie is working, former Lytchett Minster School pupil Payne still has some companionship, with White German Shepherd Lola for company.

Asked about his four-legged acquaintance, he replied: “I have always found her like a best friend to me. We always say she’s the best thing we’ve ever done as a couple.

“It’s really nice to have her keep you a little bit sane really. Walks with her are gold dust for me. It gets you out the house. We have found new walks around we didn’t know we had before.

“It gives you time to yourself and it’s almost just nice and tranquil. You see her having the time of her life – it puts a smile on your own face. There is almost nothing quite like it.”

Bournemouth Echo:

With The Hundred now being pushed back, Payne admitted the situation remained “up in the air” as to whether his contract with Welsh Fire would be honoured for next season.

Sensibly, he had not spent any of his appearance money in advance.

“Negotiations are going on as to whether the contracts should roll over – that’s the status at the moment,” he said.

“Luckily for myself, the competition was always just about getting into it for me. The money was always a bonus.”