“When everyone left and I was the only overseas player left in India, that’s when it got real for me”
Seifert, the only overseas player to test positive during IPL 2021, has since recovered and is currently serving his isolation period at a hotel in Auckland after flying back from Chennai, where he was for around two weeks.
“That was the toughest time, getting told that I have Covid,” Seifert said during a media interaction on Tuesday. “The world stops a little bit. I couldn’t think what was next. That’s the scary part. You hear about the bad things, I thought it was going to happen to me. It was tough.”
With the IPL postponed indefinitely after 29 matches in early May following a number of positive cases in some of the team bubbles, Seifert was all set to return home with the other members of the New Zealand contingent. They were flown to Delhi on a chartered flight after returning negative tests on May 6. But Seifert tested positive when another test was done the next day, prior to their flight to New Zealand.
“I had a tiny cough, at the time I thought it was just a bit of asthma,” he said. “My heart sank straightaway, really (when the test came out positive). I just went up to my room while everything kind of got sorted out, what were the processes next.”
Reality hit him hard when the rest of the New Zealanders, who had cleared their tests, left India. But, the fact that he had an exciting few months to look forward to after his recovery, helped him cope with the situation.
“That was kind of when it sunk in, when everyone left and I was the only overseas player left in India, that’s when it got real for me,” he said. “Once a few days had gone by, everything had kind of calmed down a little bit, the New Zealand boys had gone, then I just knew it was a time of getting through it, looking at the positives – getting married in two months, so that’s exciting.
“And I think my fiancée is quite happy that I’m back a bit earlier so I can help planning for that. So you had to look at the positives, it was just the tough time of the unknown really.”
“It was the first time being involved for me in IPL in India. They [McCullum and Fleming] had all the connections. They were the closest guys other than the players that I felt comfortable talking to about the situation. They were there for me.”
India has been hit by a massive second wave of the virus, with the surge in cases leading to a shortage of beds and oxygen in hospitals across the country. The depressing updates made it worse for Seifert, but opening up to people about it helped him, he said. As did not having to actually spend time in a hospital.
“The news is all about a lack of oxygen, you don’t know if you’re going to be in that situation,” he said. “It’s just the whole unknown of what Covid is, how you’re going to react to it. I was healthy. I had the energy to get out of bed. I was happy with the situations and plans.
“One of the toughest bits on being told I had Covid was you only really hear about the bad things – watching the media or talking to people. It’s always the negative side of it. But a lot of people that have got over it, talking to people that have had it helped me as well.
“I’m feeling good. Lucky enough through the few weeks now, feeling good the whole way through. On the whole, physically and mentally feeling good. It’s been tough some days being in quarantine. Been in a hotel room about 25 days straight, that has had its toll sometimes mentally.”
Seifert could barely hold back his tears as he thanked Knight Riders coach Brendon McCullum and the Chennai Super Kings coach Stephen Fleming, both New Zealanders, for staying in touch with him and helping him through their network of friends in India.
“It was the first time being involved for me in IPL in India. They [McCullum and Fleming] had all the connections. They were the closest guys other than the players that I felt comfortable talking to about the situation. They were there for me,” he said. “It definitely was hard and I couldn’t thank Brendon and Fleming enough, they made everything a lot easier.
“Making sure things would be put in place and the KKR, the CSK support staff, management, CEO of KKR, they made life easy for me to know that everything would be alright and when that time was to come home, they would do everything to get me home safely and on time.”
Sruthi Ravindranath is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo