ANAND VASU: It’s disrespectful and inaccurate to the players to claim it’s all about IPL wages – instead, the decision not to play the final Test has everything to do with Covid and nothing to do with putting the competition above country
- It is difficult to disagree with India’s decision, with health and safety important
- The motives of their players and of the Indian cricket board are very different
- BCCI will have had an eye on protecting the cash cow when making this choice
- Virat Kohli’s job is different, he has to look out for the wellbeing of his players
If you subscribe to the view that the health and safety of cricketers is more important than anything else, it is difficult to disagree with India’s decision not to play the Manchester Test.
That the IPL is starting in nine days is beside the point.
Also, the motives of the players and the motives of the Indian cricket board (BCCI) are two different things altogether.
Virat Kohli has been a Test cricket evangelist and must look out for the wellbeing of his players
Certainly the BCCI will have had one eye on protecting their cash cow when making this decision. Looking out for their own interests, which invariably means cash in the coffers, is the job of administrators. Not the only thing they need to think about, but certainly a major component.
Virat Kohli’s job in this situation is a different one. Ultimately, he has to look out for the wellbeing of his players. With five coaching staff unavailable, including the team doctor and a physiotherapist who has worked closely with the players, there was a genuine sense of fear in the camp.
Kohli has been a Test cricket evangelist, and even more so playing away than at home.
India have played more Test cricket more regularly than at any time in their history recently
In the recent past, India have played more Test cricket more regularly than at any time in their history.
To suggest Kohli and his players withdrew from the Test to protect their IPL salaries is as inaccurate as it is disrespectful. None of these players need their IPL wages so much that arriving 10 days late for it would have left them on the streets.
Another key thing to consider is that at least seven of India’s players are travelling with family, some with young children.
As easy as it is to portray India’s cricketers as mercenaries, they are also husbands and fathers
As easy as it is to portray India’s cricketers as overpaid mercenaries, they are also husbands and fathers.
As it is, they have put plenty on the line to be able to play cricket, and they’re certainly well rewarded for doing so. But there comes a time when it becomes impossible to go on. This happened to the IPL earlier in the year and to the Test series in England.
This has everything to do with Covid-19 and nothing to do with putting IPL before country – for the players, at least.
Anand Vasu is an author and journalist who has worked for Cricinfo, Hindustan Times, Sports Illustrated India and Wisden India.