England all-rounder George Garton is hoping for a fresh start in The Hundred after opening up about a six-month battle with long Covid-19, a condition which left him with scars on his heart and lungs and feeling “like a really unfit 80-year-old”. -years old”.
Garton started the year on a high, making his international debut in January against the West Indies, but things took a sharp turn for the worse when he tested positive for coronavirus on his return from Barbados.
It was the second time he had contracted Covid, having missed the chance for an England international the previous summer during an outbreak in the squad, and the symptoms increased dramatically.
Only now, as he prepares to help Southern Brave defend their title in the second edition of the ECB 100-ball tournament, is he feeling back to full form.
Recalling her experiences for the first time, Garton told the PA news agency: “I spent a lot of time in the dark, not knowing what was wrong with me. Not many people know much about it and even the doctors don’t seem to know what causes it.
“Symptomatically, I had an abnormally high heart rate. My resting heart rate was up from about 50 bpm to 75-80, and if I did anything – walk around, go downstairs and have a coffee – it was up to 100-110.
“I got tired very quickly and the cardiologist said it wasn’t recovering as it should. I had an MRI scan and it showed some scarring on the heart and lungs from long Covid.
“My heart was racing and I felt pretty useless. I felt like a really unfit 80-year-old. Even bowling one over would be incredibly tiring…I would blow hard and need to sit down.
“I was told it would go away but they couldn’t promise anything. So five percent of my brain was in that room, that I could finish here, because no one knew how to fix it.”
Instead of giving up, Garton looked far and wide for solutions. Willing to try anything to get his body moving again, he eventually found a solution that got him back in the park.
His first return with Sussex in the Vitality Blast was a slow start, but he finally feels ready after missing half a year of his career.
He said: “I’ve had my fair share of injuries so I knew what headspace I had to be in. I buckled down and tried everything: breathing exercises, hypnotherapy, chiropractors, taping my mouth when I went to bed.
“Finally I saw a specialist who deals mainly with footballers and high-end athletes and he told me structurally and electronically that my heart was fine. I needed to convince my brain that my body was OK.
“After two or three weeks it suddenly felt miles better. It wasn’t even a gradual improvement. I started to feel normal again.”
Garton played an important role in securing last year’s Hundred trophy for the Southern Brave, opening the bowling in the Lord’s final and dismissing the dangerous David Bedingham for a duck.
But just being part of the defence, which begins on Wednesday with a curtain-raiser against Welsh Fire, will feel like a victory of sorts.
“I had really high hopes for this summer, but it’s not the cards I was dealt,” he said.
“When I watch The Hundred, I just want to do my best and enjoy my job. I missed playing so I just want to get out there and have fun trying to retain the title we won last year.”