Michael Atherton believes that there could be more reasons than one in cancellation of the fifth Test between England and India at Old Trafford, Manchester - one of which could be the upcoming second leg of the IPL. The Test was cancelled on Friday, after covid-19 outbreak in the visitors' camp.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday, September 10, confirmed the cancellation of the fifth Test between England and India, after the visitors had shown reluctance to field the team amidst growing covid-19 concerns in the camp.
India's junior physio Yogesh Parmar had tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, following which the team’s practice session had been called off. That was not long after head coach Ravi Shastri, bowling coach Bharat Arun and fielding coach R Sridhar had been tested positive and had missed the trip to Manchester.
Michael Atherton, who was on broadcasting duties for Sky Sports for the series, drew similarities between the current situation, and what it was during England’s trip to South Africa late last year.
"This is very similar to what happened in South Africa during Christmastime with the England squad, the players showed an extreme reluctance to play but the administrators from both sides wanted the game to go ahead," Atherton told Sky Sports.
"They are trying to negotiate but the players are reluctant, particularly these days with player power and that will carry the day.”
Atherton further stressed on how the second leg of the IPL, scheduled to begin within four days after the Test series, could've been one of the major reasons.
"There are two things that are different from last Christmas, one is the vaccinations which weren't there then but are there now and secondly, the IPL which is a big thing hanging over. IPL has always been the big thing hanging over this Test,” the former England captain said.
"IPL was cancelled in May and rescheduled in UAE four days after this Test. And the fear with Lancashire officials was that if Covid did come with IPL hanging on the back of it, what effect would that have on this game.
"They (BCCI) wanted this last Test moved to the start of the series, that was the story three-four months ago. But because of The Hundred and various other things the ECB was reluctant to move this game. So there has always been a kind of cloud hanging over this Test and unfortunately, the cloud has released its contents."