Fifth Test fiasco

Greed of head coach, boards laid bare

Fifth Test fiasco

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) declared that India had forfeited the match by refusing to play — meaning the series was tied 2-2

The chaotic and confused way in which the fifth and final match of the India-England Test series was called off, literally at the 11th hour at Manchester on Friday, made cricket a laughing stock. A day after the assistant physiotherapist of the Indian team tested positive for Covid, the Indian players were reluctant to take the field — after all, the previous week, head coach Ravi Shastri and two senior coaches too had been found infected. At this, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) declared that India had forfeited the match by refusing to play — meaning the series was tied 2-2. Within a short time, however, ECB amended its statement and removed the word ‘forfeit’, clearly due to pressure from the Indian cricket board (BCCI). Finally, a BCCI statement said the two boards would try to find a window on their cricket calendars to reschedule the match, most likely in the summer of 2022.

In this confusion, a few important points were relegated to the background. How did the infection hit the Indian camp? The needle of suspicion points at an event to release a book by Shastri right before the fourth Test in London — it was after this that Shastri and two fellow coaches developed symptoms and tested positive. The head coach’s act of indulging in a personal commercial activity by promoting his book in the midst of a pandemic needs to be investigated. Endangering the welfare of his team right in the middle of an important series by appearing maskless at a personal event held in public — in which the guests didn’t wear masks, too — is a serious breach of Covid guidelines issued by BCCI.

Another aspect that needs to be looked at is the greed of the authorities: ECB was insisting on considering it a forfeiture by India because it feared losing insurance money; BCCI was insisting on postponing or cancelling the match because it feared that its cash cow, the IPL — scheduled to resume in Dubai on September 19 — could take a hit if star Indian players were infected and forced to skip it. Finally, it seems impossible to find an empty window to reschedule this match — cricketers are being made to play too much by their boards and T20 teams. Greed, on the part of Shastri and the boards, has been laid bare by the Manchester fiasco.


Also read: Indian players refused to play fifth Test due to Covid, IPL played no part in it: Sourav Ganguly

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