The fifth and final Test between India and England was called off as the tourist camp was hit by COVID-19. The former England skipper Michael Atherton felt the upcoming UAE-leg of the Indian Premier League (IPL 2021) might have been the major reason behind the cancellation of this Manchester Test.
India who were leading the five-match Test series 2-1 were supposed to leave for IPL four days after the scheduled Manchester Test was due to end. Atherton reckoned that there might be multiple reasons with the cash-rich league being one of them.
“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,” the Englishman 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.
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,” he added.
The 53-year-old then talked about how the officials were worried about this Test as the upcoming IPL was going to affect this match and even though BCCI had requested to shift this match to the beginning of the series, ECB could not make these changes owing to ‘The Hundred’.
“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 affect would that have on this game,” the cricketer-turned-commentator said.
“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,” the former English cricketer concluded.
(With Sky Sports Inputs)