Steve Harmison, post-Ben Stokes’ decision to take a break, has raged and stated that English sports stars are like caged animals and compared watching cricket to going to a zoo. Harmison also batted for the postponement of The Ashes, calling for flexibility in the scheduling of cricket events.
Post the COVID-19 pandemic, all cricketing events have been reduced to being hosted at bio-bubble safe venues, which has meant that the players have not been allowed to venture outside the venue at any given time. While it certainly helped in the return of cricket, over the last year, the amount of international cricket with the varied bubbles has definitely left the players in a drained-out state.
While several cricketers in the past have taken a break, owing to the pressure of being in a bubble, English all-rounder Ben Stokes recently stated that he would take an indefinite break from the sport. Since then, several cricketers, former and current, have come in support of the all-rounder and all the other cricketers in a similar state.
Former English pacer Steve Harmison has compared the English sports stars to ‘caged animals’ and has insisted that watching cricket in the current times has been like going to a zoo.
“Watching cricket now is like going to the zoo. Our sports stars are like caged animals. They're let out to be fed and to entertain. And that's not healthy. I can understand why West Indies and Pakistan came here last summer. But the longer bubble life has gone on, the harder it's become,” Harmison told The Daily Mail.
“I thought I could never be prouder of Ben Stokes, but he's gone above that now. I think the poor kid is still grieving for his father. Knowing Ged as I did, he was such a rock for Ben. Don't underestimate what his loss has done,” he added.
Alongside that, Harmison also stated that it was Ben Stokes’ snapping point and added that the all-rounder returning would be of secondary importance now.
“Everyone has their snapping point and Ben's found his. I hope and pray he'll be all right. But whether he comes back on the pitch is of secondary importance right now. If he never plays cricket again, he's had a wonderful career.”
Incidentally, over the past few days, there has been increased pressure on The Ashes, with reports suggesting that the English players would have to travel without their families. Harmison opined that if the Olympics can be postponed by a year, the Ashes, too, can be pushed back.
“The biggest sporting event in the world is the Olympics. If that can be put back 12 months, why not the Ashes? You’ve got to be flexible in the Covid world.
“It'll be a waste of time if England send a half-baked team to Australia. Test cricket is already hanging by a thread. Would that finish it off? Let's not compromise.”