There's been a few times that Lockie Ferguson had been down with a cold in the course of his career, but it was different this time. After reporting a sore throat to the New Zealand team management on Friday, he was sent for COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) tests and then asked to isolate himself in his hotel room. Now he's back home with his family, who wasted no time checking up on him.
"Certainly got a few texts on Saturday but I was quick to announce that it was only a few cold symptoms and happy to be home now," he said upon arrival in Auckland on Sunday.
Ferguson was in Sydney to play a three-match ODI series, but with the New Zealand government increasing travel restrictions, including a mandate that said people coming back from Australia had to go under self-isolation for 14 days, the series was called off a third of the way through.
Well before that, news of Ferguson's condition emerged, but the man himself thinks it was blown out of proportion.
"No. Probably a bit over-exaggerated as to how I was," he said. "I just sort of had very, very mild cold symptoms and the procedures were as they were and followed by Tommy [Simsek, physio] and the support staff. Completely understandable. So yeah, kinda had a day in the hotel room by myself.
"It was strange certainly playing the game under the circumstances and with an empty crowd. For sure, that was an odd experience. At the same time, we were a little bit disappointed with how the game ended up. And yeah, that night I was sort of taken to get swabs and talked to the doctor there and fortunately all was good and yeah happy to be home."
Did Ferguson feel nervous at all, given how rapidly the coronavirus had spread throughout the planet? "Um, from my point of view, I just thought it was normal small cold symptoms," he said. "Get quite rundown from time to time playing cricket and travelling a bit. So not too unusual for me. But as I said, Tommy our physio and the doctors followed procedure as is needed. So yes, been 24 hours in isolation but that's okay. And I'll be honest, I actually felt good the next day I woke up. I was fine."
New Zealand's border restrictions were supposed to go in place at midnight on Sunday and while the rest of the team were able to return home on Saturday itself, Ferguson had to stay back in Sydney as precaution and could only travel on the day of the deadline.
"We had pretty clear comms from our support staff. We knew if we got back tonight it'd be all good," he said. "So when we got the negative test for the virus last night we just took it as we can and then it was nice to come home today. Fortunately, it was only the day. So not too bad. They went home last night and just had to stay the one more night in Sydney. Not too many issues there."
Ferguson understood the need for taking every safeguard but hoped he could get back to work as quickly as possible. "I think everyone in every industry is probably feeling it a little bit," he said. "Not just us in sport. Certainly we want to play cricket but under these circumstances we are following the directions of people in much higher power than me. Yeah just taking it in my stride but looking forward to playing cricket soon. So I'll get back with the Aces boys tomorrow and see what the plan is going forward."