Cancelled Test Series: Doubts Remain
Postponement of the fifth test match between India and England has put a question mark on the intentions of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). A section of the cricketing world has alleged that such a development took place to ensure smooth conduct of the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL), which is slated to start from September 19 in Dubai. However, BCCI President Sourav Ganguly refuted all charges and claimed that IPL played no part in the decision. According to him, the players were devastated after learning that the assistant physio had tested positive for Covid-19 and were unwilling to take the field.
Even after the clarification issued by BCCI, the controversy refuses to die down as the England cricket board has already filed a complaint with the International Cricket Council (ICC) claiming that India has forfeited the match by refusing to play and the series should be declared cancelled. It is clear that the England board is not willing to buy the arguments forwarded by the Indian board. On the other hand, the Indian cricket board is hopeful that sometime next year the test match will be held and the fate of the series will be decided.
Before making an effort to solve the controversy by arranging another test match, the BCCI will have to answer a few unpalatable questions. It is now known that the Indian players and supporting staff were not adhering to Covid-19 protocols strictly; rather they were flouting safety guidelines. The most glaring example of such a violation was the book release programme that was attended by the entire team. With BCCI categorically denying permission to Virat Kohli & Co. to attend the function, it is clear that the board and players were not in sync and allowed the deadly virus to enter the Indian camp.
It is quite astonishing that when the breach in Covid-related protocols came to light, BCCI took no action against those who threw all caution to the wind. Will the board please inform the cricket-loving people of the country when the strict Covid-19 norms were relaxed and the players allowed to come out of the bio-bubble?
Clearly, the board will avoid answering these questions as effort to do so will bring more skeletons out of the cupboard. There was no need to reschedule IPL after it was cancelled due to Covid apart from filling BCCI’s coffer. This is why in between the England series and the T-20 World Cup tournament, IPL is being organised, denying the opportunity of much needed rest to the players. Moreover, the Manchester test could be rescheduled if the cricketers were not contractually bound to participate in IPL. It all happened because the BCCI put more onus on financial aspects above everything else.