Steve Harmison believes the decision to cancel the fifth match between India and England marks ‘the beginning of the end for Test cricket’ and blamed the rescheduled IPL tournament as the reason for the game not going ahead.
Friday’s scheduled final Test at Old Trafford was cancelled just hours before it was due to begin because the tourists were unable to field a team due to a Covid-19 outbreak among their backroom staff.
It has since emerged that India will not be forfeiting the match, but instead the BCCI are in discussions with the ECB over a suitable time for it to be rescheduled.
Former England seam bowler Harmison thinks this decision marks a sad day for Test cricket, and thinks the IPL, which is due to recommence in Dubai next week after it was postponed due to the virus earlier this year, had a big part to play in the decision.
‘It’s rubbish, it really is, My initial thoughts are that this is the beginning of the end for Test cricket,’ he told TalkSPORT.
‘When you’re choosing to go down this road, that’s it done. Let’s be fair before we start throwing stones, England did it to South Africa. Let’s get that straight from the very start. We’re not the totally innocent party in this because we came home when we didn’t know what was going on.
‘But this is all about the IPL. End of. As much as I’d want to sugar coat it, I don’t think I can.
‘The IPL starts in five days, and a month before the tour started India asked if they could move the last Test match forward or clear four days so they can fit the IPL in. All of a sudden this happens. It doesn’t sit well with me and I feel so sorry for the people of Manchester.’
India currently lead the series 2-1 following an impressive final day bowling display which blew away the England batting order to win by 179 runs at the Oval earlier this week.
Harmison has admitted that he feels sorry for the hosts, who were looking to bounce back from the defeat in London.
‘It stinks, it really does. I feel so sorry for the England players, the England supporters, and I feel sorry for the game of Test match cricket, because this for me is where it starts, if we’re starting to cancel games,’ he added.
‘This series has been fantastic, up there with one of the best, and not to have a chance to go 2-2 or for India to have a chance to go 3-1 and showcase what a fantastic side India have been, for me this mars everything.
‘Test cricket is alive largely because of one man – Virat Kohli. He speaks so positively about Test match cricket, he loves it, wants to play and thinks it’s the pinnacle.
‘But now all of a sudden India don’t want to play and that’s it, the game’s gone, the game has gone in Test match cricket.’
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