Life in lockdown has provided challenges for everyone across the country, but Durham’s Gareth Harte has been determined to use the time in isolation to his advantage to forge a new online business.

Harte used educational funding from the Players Cricket Association to earn a diploma in digital marketing after stumbling on the opportunity while browsing online during the winter.

The 27-year-old has used his training to develop an affiliated marketing business - ‘The Elevated Life’ - where he has promoted products that are focused on four main goals in life - health, wealth, self and social.

The South African is hopeful of growing his business online over the next 12 months, although he has seen his progress stymied by the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Harte believes that he’s on the right track to potentially develop a career outside of cricket in the near future after enduring a frustrating 2019 season.

He said: “I was looking for funding and I was actually about to sign up to do a business and finance diploma at the Open University.

“Two days before I was scheduled to start I found the advert on YouTube, and I knew it was what I was looking for. I’m now committed to this journey that I’m on now.

“I wasn’t particularly happy with the year I had last season so I started to look for things outside of cricket. It pushed me into thinking for a plan b for a life after sport.

“Building the business alongside playing sport could be the best thing because I’m able to work on it during my free time. During the winter I was fully focused on trying to get the business up and running particularly with trying to create something outside of sport.

“Once the cricket season started I knew that it would have to take a back seat, but obviously know I’ve had time to build and grow it.

“It’s pretty slow at the moment given what’s happening in the world. I don’t think people have a lot of excess money to be spending. I’m only six months in, but I am quite an impatient person so I can get overwhelmed at times because it’s not going as well as I would have liked, but it’s still very early days.

“I’m still learning a lot and doing a lot to enhance my skills. I know I’m doing the right thing so I’m hopeful over the next 12 months that the business will become more of a success.”

The development of the business has been a vital distraction as Harte and his family have been one of a number of families affected by the virus.

His parents were in the process of moving to England from South Africa, but his father and mother have been separated by nearly 8,000 miles, which the all-rounder has admitted has been tough to handle given his isolation in the north east.

“My parents were emigrating to the UK two days before the lockdown happened,” he said.

“My dad came over early to live in Surrey with my grandparents, but my mum is stuck in South Africa. They’d sold the house, packed everything up and it was in the process of being shipped over here. It has been quite a stressful time for them to be separated and they have not got a house to live in.

“There are a lot of people dealing with stress, but it’s just one of those things we’ve got to deal with.

“I haven’t been able to see them which is sad, but on the other hand if the season had started I probably would not have been able to see them a great deal anyway because we travel so much.

“I’m used to that aspect of not seeing them because they lived in South Africa. I’m more concerned about them sorting out their lives, which is a big challenge at the moment with everything up in the air, but hopefully everything can return to normal soon.”