The ICC needs to step in for England cricket are not being very gentlemanly in their dealings
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IT is not often that I will look towards rugby to provide an example, but the England and Wales Cricket Board can surely learn a few things from their British & Irish Lions counterparts.
The Lions' tour to South Africa earlier this year had everything going against them. There were a myriad of reasons for the Lions not to board a plane to SA, and when Warren Gatland's team eventually arrived in the country, the situation became progressively worse.
A third wave of Covid-19 infections had engulfed SA, particularly Gauteng where the initial stages of the tour were being played, which caused players in both teams to test positive for the virus, including Springbok captain Siya Kolisi. Furthermore, SA was in crisis mode with public riots and looting in Gauteng and KwaZuluNatal following the imprisonment of former president Jacob Zuma virtually bringing the country to its knees. Military intervention was required.
At that very moment, the Lions could have boarded a plane and headed home. Instead, they packed their bags for Cape Town where a gripping series, with all the sideshows, was played out in its entirety. England's cricket team had been in Cape Town too at the end of last year. Their response could not have been more different to a couple of false tests within the bio-bubble. Matches were cancelled and a series postponed as Eoin Morgan and a few more English players headed off to Australia's Big Bash League instead.
Their behaviour has not changed much since. In fact, it has deteriorated. Despite teams such as Pakistan and the West Indies agreeing to tour England during the heart of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 when vaccinations were still the pipe dream, to literally save the ECB millions pounds, there has been no sign of equal good faith.
Over the past 18 months, England have abandoned or cancelled tours to Sri Lanka, SA, Bangladesh and Pakistan, with the latter being hit particularly hard after New Zealand also refused to tour on “safety grounds” earlier week, prompting newly-appointed Pakistan chief Ramiz Raja to claim that a global split in cricket is imminent.
“I am severely disappointed in England's withdrawal but it was expected because this western bloc gets united unfortunately and tries to back each other,” Ramiz said.
England's tour to Pakistan was to last a total of four days. Yes, just four days for the men's and women's teams to play a couple of T20 double-headers. And yet they have cited bubble fatigue – and not even safety concerns – as their reason.
At the moment it seems that the ECB are not being gentlemanly in their dealings, expecting others to help them out when needed but are not willing to reciprocate the favour.
The ICC needs more than a strong England, India, Australia and New Zealand for the game to be taken seriously around the world, especially with it wanting to be included in the Olympics fairly soon.
And taking action against teams like England who are currently cherry-picking their tours will be the first step.