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ECB CEO Tom Harrison: ‘This is not a Covid cancellation’

by Wisden Staff 4 minute read

ECB CEO Tom Harrison has said that the cancellation of today’s Test match against India was a decision taken on the basis of mental health and not to do with Covid.

Tom Harrison answered a number of questions from the press in relation to the last minute cancellation of the fifth Test between England and India that was scheduled to start today in Manchester. He also emphasised that there is too much domestic and international cricket being played.

Asked whether the cancellation meant the series would end in a 2-1 victory to India or result in a forfeit and therefore a 2-2 draw, Harrison said it was too soon to know.

“Well, I think we’ll need to take a bit of time with that one. The BCCI have offered to reschedule this match which is good news. Whether that’s part of this series, or part of a fresh one-match series or the first match of another series, I don’t know yet. These are the things that will take some time”

As to whether the ECB had a preference, Harrison replied, “of course.”

“At this point we are looking forward to making sure we can reschedule this match at some point in the near future and that separately, the ICC will adjudicate over whether this series is completed now and effectively whether that fifth match is null and void or it’s actually regarded as a forfeiture or something else.”

How the game is defined will impact the amount of money the ECB will be able to claim in insurance following the losses suffered from the cancellation.

“This is not a COVID cancellation. This match has been cancelled because of serious concerns over the mental health and wellbeing of one of the teams. There is a difference, but it doesn’t make a difference in terms of ticket buyers who will be paid back in full. It makes a difference in terms of the ECB balance sheet.”

When asked whether the resumption of the IPL in a week’s time had had an influence over the cancellation of the fixture, Harrison was emphatic that that was not the case.

“Let me be super clear about this one. I don’t think the IPL has anything to do with this. And I’ll stress that as well. This is not an issue created by the rescheduled IPL, I do not believe that for a second.”

The rescheduling of the IPL, which begins less than a week after the finale of this series and ends a matter of days before the T20 World Cup begins, has been another example of the congested nature of the current cricketing calendar and the stress it places modern players under. England play more international cricket than any other side, and whether they play too much was a question that Harrison conceded is often discussed within the ECB.

“It’s a question we spend a lot of time thinking about. We do play more than any other international team. That’s partly a quirk of the way our seasons are scheduled and partly because we are in huge demand as a travelling and a hosting team.

“We just need to make sure, and I promise this is something that is being heard loud and clear at board level at the ECB, is that the players’ voices are as loud as other voices in that debate and I genuinely believe that’s the case now, whereas I’d probably say that wasn’t the case in the past.

“We’ve had the debate this year of how complex and how sub-optimal the schedule has been. And we’re now in discussions about next year and we can’t solve these problems overnight.

“But the reality is we’re playing too much domestic cricket and we’re playing too much international cricket and we need to address both of those things.”

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