Former England and Yorkshire fast bowler Ryan Sidebottom pens his very first column for Sporting Life as he prepares to debut on ITV's hit show Dancing On Ice.
It's been just over a year since I stopped playing professional cricket, the only life I'd ever known and one that I loved, and now I'm about to make my first appearance on an amazing TV show just a few months after winning the County Championship with Surrey, for whom I worked as a bowling consultant last summer.
I look back at what I have achieved in a short space of time since I stopped playing and while I'm proud of myself, I'm also very grateful.
For lots of players, they stop playing and the phone suddenly goes quiet. That can be so hard for those so used to being in the spotlight, suddenly having nothing to do. I miss the camaraderie of the dressing room, I miss the mates you build within your teams and I miss the adrenaline of going on to the field to play; it's a difficult void to fill.
Thankfully, it has been an amazing year and I'm so lucky to have had the opportunities I have been afforded.
That said, I'm a sportsman at the end of the day and I can't deny that having hair and make-up and your own dressing room is very surreal. I'm not used to it all and it can be a little bit nerve-wracking at times.
Since joining the show it's been a bit of a whirlwind. I couldn't stand up on the ice when I started but after 30 hours of solid training with a professional before the show even kicked into gear, I'm slowly getting there and am excited to get started proper on Sunday.
Meeting Torvill and Dean was so special and I have to say that it's been really good getting to know the other contestants. They are a really good bunch and the lads, in particular, are so down to earth and easy to get along with.
There's a good camaraderie there, not too dissimilar to what I enjoyed in professional cricket, and that's nice. We all get on well and have had a few beers that have led to the odd tipsy late night!
The training has been hard, though. There have been lots of ups and downs, falls and bumps on the head, but I'm giving it my best. I'm just trying to embrace what is an amazing show and intend to have as much fun as I can.
At the end of the day, a show like this is all about having as much fun as much possible and I just hope people at home can see that. Clearly, I have no dancing background but hopefully I can keep improving as I go and enjoy it to the max. I really hope that comes across to you guys and that people enjoy it enough to vote for me.
Surrey's Curran brothers
As I've already said, there have been lots of up and downs in the show already and that phrase probably sums up the year as a whole.
I really enjoyed working with Surrey as a four-day bowling consultant last year and to win the County Championship in my first venture into coaching was fantastic. They have some terrific players down there, particularly in the bowling department, and to work with the Curran brothers in particular was a real pleasure.
I spent a lot of time with Sam early in the season and it was lovely to see him go on to have the success he's had with England.
With Sam, it was more about trying get him to be as consistent as he could be. He's got all the skills and all the ability but sometimes, he wanted wickets every over and cricket doesn't work like that. It's hard and needs patience - I think you saw against India just how far he's come.
For me, coaching isn't about over coaching. There are lots of ways you can help, whether it can be a quiet word at the Tea break, a shoulder to cry on after a hard day in the field or an honest discussion over a beer.
It doesn't always have to be technical, though sometimes you will spot tiny things that might need a little tweak here and there. A big part of coaching is about building relationships with your players, creating trust and giving them the right environment to produce their best. I guess I'm old school in that sense.
Disappointment at Surrey exit
Given all that, I can't hide how disappointed I was when I found out that Surrey wouldn't be requiring my services next summer. Nothing surprises you in sport but given how far we'd come in such a short space of time and the success we enjoyed, I was really keen on getting stuck in again and building on everything we had done last year.
Like I said, it was really disappointing but I wish the boys well and look forward to watching them succeed in the future. If anything, the whole experience has made me realise how much I enjoy the coaching side of the game and I'm really keen to stay involved in cricket.
I've been very lucky to achieve all I have on the field and enjoy some wonderful experiences throughout my career. I'd really like to be able to pass on all that knowledge to the next generation.
For now, though, my focus is on getting myself on the ice and ready for what should be a fantastic show at the weekend.
I hope you all enjoy it!