Nasser Hussain has said that not India but the hectic cricketing calendar should be blamed for the cancellation of the Manchester Test on Friday. Hussain added that India were always wary about the timing of the fifth Test which was scheduled to end 5 days before the start of IPL 2021 UAE leg.
Former England captain Nasser Hussain has opined that cricket's hectic schedule and not India should be blamed for the cancellation of the fifth and final Test in Manchester on Friday.
Notably, the match was called off following a meeting between the BCCI and ECB. Due to the outbreak of Covid-19 cases in the Indian camp, the visitors were reluctant and unable to field their players for the series-deciding encounter. Head coach Ravi Shastri, fielding coach R Sridhar and bowling coach Bharat Arun tested positive during the 4th Test, while assistant physio Yogesh Parmar returned positive on the eve of the Manchester Test, forcing Virat Kohli's men to skip their final training session on Thursday.
Hussain, in his column for Daily Mail, has felt for the "gutted fans" who had travelled long distances in expectation of some thrilling action.
"The people I felt most sorry for during Friday's extra-ordinary turn of events were a group in our game who habitually deserve more respect - the fans - and the villain of the piece was not India but cricket’s relentless schedule.
"On Friday afternoon, I boarded a train south full of gutted supporters. Hours earlier, some poor bloke from Edinburgh came up to me at the ground and asked me for a photograph. He faced a long journey home.
"Spectators are always the last people we think about. Slow over-rates and going off early for bad light when there are floodlights is one thing. This is quite another," Hussain wrote in his column.
Further, the 53-year-old reckoned that the second leg of the IPL 2021 which is due to start from Sepetember 19, also played its part in the decision-making process. Hussain reminded that India were always wary about the timing of the fifth Test which was scheduled to end just 5 days before the start of the IPL's UAE leg.
"This was a complete and utter mess. Unfortunately, though, it is where we are in the world of cricket right now due to a packed schedule and the elephant in the room that is the Indian Premier League.
"As soon as Covid got into the tourists’ camp, some of the decision-making was about that tournament, and it is worth remembering that India have always been wary about the positioning of this Test match so close to it," Hussain stated.
"You will recall that they tried to get it moved. Because of the finances involved, the IPL is non-negotiable to them. It simply has to take place.
"And so when a team pull out of a match like this, it reaches an inevitable but sad conclusion for Test ticket-holders. With no wriggle room for re-scheduling, the best they can hope for now is a stand-alone match in future.
"Naturally, puritan cricket-lovers will be asking how we got to a stage where we are prioritising the next franchise tournament over Test matches but that is where we are, and it is not going to change.
"This is a player-power situation, just as we saw 10 months ago from England when Covid hit their camp in South Africa - some players wanted to get off to the Big Bash, others were just desperate to get home for Christmas," the cricketer-turned-commentator added.