England’s Test Series in Sri Lanka was called off on Friday amid fears over the of the coronavirus.
The two-Test series was due to begin in Galle on 19 March and a warm-up fixture was abandoned on Friday after the decision was made to return to the UK.
The decision to call off the tour was made at the request of the ECB over fears the players could be trapped in Sri Lanka in quarantine if the virus spreads on the island.
Broadcasting legend and former England Captain David Gower believes it’s best to cancel the test series, citing that the Covid-19 is still a relatively unknown illness and that we must follow the precautionary measures.
“There’s no real choice is there, you cannot override something like this. I think the decision is absolutely right , no one can tell how coronavirus is going to spread, how quickly, how slowly (or) how far and wide, ” Gower said.
“No one can tell what the ultimate impact will be on all sports let alone cricket and of course the one thing that’s glaringly obvious to all commentators is whether it’s football or cricket, the schedules are so full that even a few weeks of delay will put a long way out of kilter.“
The only time Gower can recall a similar scenario in his career was the 1981 tour of the West Indies, but says it’s incomparable to the current outbreak of the coronavirus.
“It’s very unusual, the only comparison I’ve got in terms of doing that was not quite so traumatic or effective was the 1981 tour of the West Indies where we were thrown out of Guyana for political reasons so it was a tour that was thrown into chaos for a couple of weeks.
“However, that’s very inconsequential in comparison to what’s happening now because this is a much greater unknown force and the obvious reason is that if you go on for another day or two and pondered it (the coronavirus) in Sri Lanka well obviously the various people that would’ve come down to watch it would’ve traveled, some of them might well still travel while some might go down to have a holiday since it’s a lovely country.”
Gower sympathizes with the Barmy Army, who are likely to have lost money after the series was cancelled, and feels the immediate future of cricket is uncertain.
“Well obliviously that remains to be seen in terms of how much it cost them in the end. It’s probably to early to be absolutely certain whether refund will be made, there could be a real knock on effect for people who’ve paid money themselves.
“Looking ahead to the summer we can’t be sure about what’s going to happen with the home test series or with anything really.“
The ECB’s decision comes after it was announced the start of the 2020 Indian Premier League season has been delayed from 29 March to 15 April.