By Adam Cooper
Wellington cricketer Logan van Beek has revealed he caught Covid-19 on a team bus during his summer of cricket in Europe.
The 31-year-old Firebirds pace bowler left for the Northern Hemisphere in April, to play across several competitions and prepare for next month's Twenty20 World Cup with the Netherlands.
However, in the middle of van Beek's campaign with Derbyshire in the UK Twenty20 Blast competition in early July, a handful of players were struck down with the virus.
"Unfortunately one of the guys in our team got it, and we'd had a three hour bus ride back from Durham to Derbyshire," van Beek told Newstalk ZB this week.
"We all had to self isolate as we'd been close contacts, [then] four of the guys out of the 12 [squad members] got Covid, and it was pretty tough".
The outbreak among players forced Derbyshire to cancel its final two matches of the Blast campaign due to a lack of available players.
Van Beek said at the time he was positive he'd had just one of his two vaccination doses, and it was a tough virus to deal with through his 14 days in isolation.
"[It was] not the sickest I'd ever been but I definitely had a sore throat, tight chest, and just low energy.
"Fortunately enough the British Open [golfing major] was on so it was the first time I've watched a full major from start to finish and pretty much watched it from 7am until 8pm at night, so that was a slight bonus," he said.
"I recovered pretty well, and maybe had some slight effects over the [following] two or three weeks, in terms of getting gas quite easily, but now I'm feeling a lot better [two months on].
"I had my second vaccination a couple of weeks ago so hopefully I'm pretty protected, but still taking the right precautions".
Alongside his stint in the UK, van Beek's primarily been in the Northern Hemisphere through the New Zealand winter to play club cricket in the Netherlands, to prepare to represent that country at next month's Twenty20 World Cup.
Christchurch-born van Beek has had a Dutch passport since he was a teenager as his father Verdi is Dutch.
He said the time spent in Europe has been satisfying.
"Body-wise it's been fantastic, it's one of those things as a bowler you're always wondering when the next injury's going to come, but I've been super lucky this summer to be injury free.
Van Beek claimed 16 wickets at an average of 22.56 runs through his T20 Blast season with Derbyshire, while in one-day representative cricket for the Netherlands this year took nine wickets at an average of just over 33.
"Catching Covid was a bit of a spanner for a little bit, but in terms of form I've really enjoyed Dutch club cricket this year, it's a different kind of cricket, it's tough to bat on the artificial pitches," he said.
"But we've got a great lead-in to the first round of the World Cup so I'm looking forward to training hard with the Dutch guys and preparing the best we can.
After the Twenty20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates, van Beek hopes to snatch an MIQ spot to return to the Wellington Firebirds in November for the upcoming domestic season.
But, this week's virtual lobby for spots in MIQ has him slightly concerned he'll be back in time.
"When the time came, I was 15,422nd in the line. It was a bit anti-climactic so I spent the next two hours trying to work out how fast the queue was going but obviously there's only 3000 spots available."
The lobby was designed to "make booking more transparent and will create a more level playing field for people trying to access the booking site" because there is no limit on how many people can wait in the lobby.
But van Beek says the new system is a "merry go round".
"We're going to be going round for a while, so there is a bit of uncertainty."
He says during the time he's been living in the Netherlands he has seen life return almost to normal – and New Zealand should consider doing the same.
"I'd hope in the next month or so if you are vaccinated you could do home quarantine, then there would be a bit more trust in New Zealand's citizens at least to let them fly home."
He says there are other people in much worse situations than him, and he doesn't want special treatment - but he would love for life in New Zealand to progress how it has in Europe.
If a return to New Zealand isn't possible, van Beek has a backup job option in the Netherlands during the Kiwi summer.
"I'd hate to think that I couldn't get back, but I do have a work opportunity, which is outside of cricket ... something that's been really exciting for me personally in terms of an opportunity outside the game.
"So I would possibly look to explore that a bit more, but I'm still trying to actively get back for the summer to play for the Firebirds, because I'm loving cricket at the moment and want to play as much as I possibly can".