In a different world, the eve of the County Championship season would be the perfect chance for Dane Vilas to reflect on his achievements at Lancashire since his low-key arrival as a Kolpak signing three years ago.

He has topped the club's run-scoring charts for consecutive seasons, once as a source of light in an otherwise gloomy relegation year, then as the standout in a promotion campaign. He has captained astutely, earning praise for his powers of motivation and leading the club to the Division Two title at the first time of asking.

And his stock in the shortest format has never been higher, following a first stint in the Pakistan Super League and with the ink dry on a £125,000 (US$156,000) contract - plus a £10,000 (US$12,500) captaincy bonus set to follow - after Manchester Originals snapped him up in the first round of picks in the Hundred draft.

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But rather than leading Lancashire out at Old Trafford on Sunday, Vilas will be at home in London, trying not to get bogged down in hypotheticals in the uncertain world he inhabits. Ever since he signed a deal to play county cricket as a local player, Brexit has loomed ominously, with little clarity over how it might affect his career; now, with the coronavirus pandemic throwing plans for the 2020 season into disarray, the unpredictability has only grown.

This was set to be the final year that the Kolpak ruling would have any relevance in county cricket: the ECB sent counties guidance in February suggesting that the loophole allowing players to sign contracts as local players will be closed when the transition period between the UK and the EU ends in December.

For Vilas' county contract, that is not too much of a concern: Lancashire have given him guarantees that they want him to stay at the club beyond this season, as an overseas player if necessary. But it meant that 2020 was the only year he would not count towards the overseas quota in the Hundred, meaning that he was among the most sought-after domestic players at October's draft. With the staging of the tournament this season in doubt, he may well find it tougher to win a deal for 2021.

It would be a significant financial blow for Vilas - and several other non-England-qualified domestic players - if the ECB takes the call to postpone the Hundred's first season: the Telegraph has reported that contracts for the competition include a force majeure clause, meaning the small fee players have been paid so far may be all the money they see from it this year.

"I don't think anyone knows what will happen," he says. "We're not too sure. It's a tough one, but that money - you can never count on it. It's never 'in' until it's in your account, I guess. There's no point stressing about it."

For many, Manchester Originals' decision to sign Vilas in the first round was the shock moment of last year's draft: Jos Buttler's apparently nonplussed reaction to the pick went viral on the night. Vilas himself was not watching, instead putting his children to bed as the WhatsApps starting to flood in.

"I always said I would have loved to have played for my country a bit longer, but unfortunately things didn't work out for me"

"I was putting my kids down to bed. I was reading bedtime stories, and my phone was going crazy. I thought 'don't look at it, because you'll wake them up and you'll have to start the whole process again'.

"Once I got out, maybe about 20 minutes after, it was a bit of a shock: I almost fell down the stairs. It was surprising, but I was obviously delighted."

Vilas did have "an inkling" he would end up at Manchester, but the salary bracket came as a surprise. It is understood that they were caught off guard by Birmingham's decision to pick Liam Livingstone in the first round; keen to sign members of Lancashire's core who had experience at Old Trafford, they pushed Vilas into the top pay band, having earmarked him as a possible round two signing.

"As cricketers, we're used to dealing with these sorts of things - that sense of not knowing, and living year to year," Vilas says of his uncertain situation. "The longest contract that I've ever had is two years: dealing with these things is par for the course.

"As far as I'm concerned, there's no point stressing about it - you can get mixed up in your own head, and think about different options, different theories, but you've just got to deal with things as and when they come."

Regardless of what happens in that competition, it is clear Vilas is not simply in the UK to chase a quick buck and fly home when the money dries up. He spends the off-season in London with his wife, Pippa, and their two children, and hopes to sort himself a British passport in a few years' time.

"I always said I would have loved to have played for my country a bit longer, but unfortunately things didn't work out for me," he says. "I had a young superstar [Quinton de Kock] who was coming through. You just have to look at where he is at the moment: an absolute legend of a player, and doing so well.

"But I was always desperate to come and play county cricket, and to be part of a big club like Lancs has been a dream come true. It's been a great move for me and also for my family."

Pippa's UK ancestral visa has made the process easier: while someone without a tie to the country like Simon Harmer has found himself living in a flat owned by Essex, his visa status rendering him unable to rent or buy property, Vilas has the right to live and work in the UK.

And while his long-term plan is not quite nailed down, he is laying a foundation for a career upstairs with a part-time degree in sport directorship at Manchester Metropolitan University, and mentions coaching, administration, and a director of cricket role as possibilities for life after cricket.

For now, though, there is only frustration. By the time Vilas had flown back from the Pakistan Super League, with the semi-finals postponed, Lancashire's pre-season trips to the UAE and South Africa had been called off, and days later confirmation arrived that there would be no professional cricket in the first two months of the English season.

Lancashire are one of the few counties in a sufficiently healthy financial position not to be furloughing their players, meaning regular contact with medical staff, psychologists and the strength and conditioning coach.

"They've handled it really, really well. Everyone's fine, just frustrated really. We've have such a good pre-season, and the guys were training really, really hard, looking forward to getting out there.

"The weather doesn't help - it's been absolutely perfect for cricket at this time of year. Knowing that we should be playing now when we're in lockdown - we feel a bit like caged animals, chained up.

"But I think as cricketers we get this all the time. I think this isolation has [felt] pretty similar for all of us. Whenever you're on tour, you're in your hotel room by yourself a lot of the time. Being able to be by yourself is part of the job."