Former England captain Michael Atherton has come up with his views on the cancellation India-England 5th Test. Fans were left disappointed after the final Test match between India and England which was scheduled to begin on September 10 at Old Trafford, Manchester was canceled. Notably, Virat Kohli and Co. were leading the series by 2-1 heading into the series decider.
Ahead of the 5th Test and final Test match junior physio Yogesh Parmer was tested positive for Covid-19 in Manchester and many Indian players were in close contact with him. Later Indian players were found Covid-19 negative still they were hesitant to play the match. Many believe that players were prioritizing the IPL 2021 since the tournament was all set to resume from September 19.
“Covid-19, player power and the Indian Premier League combined to scupper the fifth Test”: Michael Atherton
Former England cricketer Michael Atherton has opined that there are three overall factors that resulted in the cancellation of the 5th and final Test match between England and India.
“Covid-19, player power, and the Indian Premier League combined to scupper the fifth Test in Manchester yesterday, to the consternation of the Lancashire club and the 85,000 or so supporters who had bought tickets to attend the first four days. There was a profound sense of shock and disappointment over the cancellation of the match, especially at the end of a compelling series that stood at 2-1 to India with everything to play for,” Atherton wrote in his column for The Times.
Further Atherton opined that it was not possible for authorities to ask players to stay in the strict bio-bubble as the country was opening up again. He felt that players staying in the softer bubbles increased the chances of players getting infected.
“That there has been so little international cricket lost to Covid is, amid the anger and sadness, a surprise too. Authorities recognized that they could not ask players to operate in last summer’s strict bio-secure bubbles, as society was opening up again. Inevitably this relaxation increased the risk of a Covid outbreak. County games have been affected this summer, as was the ODI series against Pakistan, which required a whole new England squad, and now a Test match has gone, although space will probably be found in the calendar at some point to mitigate the loss of broadcast income.”
“The cost to the BCCI of not staging the IPL is about £360 million”: Michael Atherton
Notably, the IPL bound players were flown to the UAE on charter flights just after the abandonment of the match. So that players could undergo a six-day quarantine and re-join their franchises for the IPL 2021, which resumes next Sunday. Talking about the IPL Atherton stated that IPL was always a “Potential Danger” hanging over the 5th Test match between the teams.
“The proximity of the IPL was always a potential danger hanging over the Manchester Test: before the summer began there were pointed discussions between the ECB and BCCI about rescheduling the fifth Test for earlier in the summer, something the ECB held firm on. India’s players were concerned that further positive tests would result in a ten-day isolation period in England, thus meaning they would miss the start of the tournament, while the cost to the BCCI of not staging the IPL is about £360 million,” he further wrote.
Further, Michael Atherton stated that once players declined to play the game there was nothing that administrators can do about it and he believes that “players have never been more powerful than now.”
“After the India players’ stated reluctance on Thursday evening, officials from the ECB and BCCI were locked in discussions throughout the night to try to navigate a way through the situation, with the ECB providing whatever assurances it could around the safety and well-being of the players. No solution was forthcoming, which reflects on where the balance of power lies in the modern game. Once the players had spoken, there was little the administrators could do about it. Players have never been more powerful than now.”