Pakistan batsman Shan Masood says knowing they had to isolate for only two weeks in New Zealand makes their ongoing cricket tour arrangements far more bearable than when they toured England. All but one of Pakistan’s 53-strong tour party came out of a 14-day quarantine on Tuesday and all have been freed to go where they want. In England in June, Pakistan also isolated for 14 days but spent the next six weeks in a bio-secure bubble.
That underlines the difference in levels of COVID-19 infection in New Zealand, where the virus has been controlled and life is practically normal, and England, where the virus is still killing hundreds daily and the country is in tiered lockdowns.
The New Zealand tour of three Twenty20s and two tests starting next week was thrown into doubt when eight of the Pakistan party tested positive for the virus, and some breached the health protocols.
Masood said it was tough for the players to isolate in their hotel rooms, but the players knew once the isolation ended they could “live like normal people.”
“We collectively accepted this challenge,” the test opener said in an online video conference on Thursday. “Spending 14 days to yourself, never leaving the room, is not easy, but it’s upon the individual to look at everything from a positive slant.
“What helped was knowing that unlike England, there’s no bio-secure bubble once we got out of quarantine. So we could live like normal people, and enjoy our life outside of cricket. It was a challenge, but now we’re looking ahead.
“We used to talk to each other on video call a lot. We had a little bit of time in fresh air. We just tried to encourage each other to bide the time. The reward we get is not only do we get to play cricket, we also get a normal life away from cricket, and get to roam around freely.”
Masood did not believe they will be rusty when the series gets underway. “What you do for years doesn’t disappear in 14 days as a cricketer,” Masood said.
“There is of course a bit of rustiness … we’re professionals and have been playing cricket since the England tour. These two weeks might be a blessing in disguise, in that players might get the extra little bit of rest.”
The test series follows the T20s, and doesn’t start until Dec. 26. Masood will play in a four-day warmup match before then. The T20 series begins on Dec. 18 in Auckland.