A “gutted” England and Wales Cricket Board CEO Tom Harrison on Friday said that it was the Indian players’ anxiety over “what might happen” and not the COVID-19 outbreak itself that caused the cancellation of the fifth Test here even though all efforts were made to comfort the visitor.
“It is a really sad day, my heart goes out to the fans. We are absolutely gutted. Internationally, this game gets astronomical audience. It became clear around lunch time on Thursday that there was a problem in terms of the anxiety level in the Indian team. It wasn’t an outbreak of COVID, it was a perception of what might happen post the physio testing positive. Over the course of the day, we tried to give as many different assurances to the players,” Harrison revealed on Friday. After the match was cancelled, the Board of Control for Cricket in India issued a statement to say that both parties would work towards finding space to reschedule the game. Harrison said that the proposed rescheduling would be a one-off game instead of a decider for the series that India leads 2-1.
“I think that it is a stand-alone situation. We have been offered a few other options. We probably need to take a look at those,” Harrison told Sky Sports.
Harrison added that “medical people who understand the virus” were brought in to talk to the players on Thursday but they were clear about not playing the match. “Once you have got the sense of anxiety in the dressing room, it would be very difficult to reverse that. Physical and mental health of players are important,” he said.
“We are not in a bio-bubble, but in managed living standards. It is not a COVID-free environment, but a COVID-managed one.”