Former Indian batter VVS Laxman is hopeful that the International Cricket Council (ICC) will name Team India winners of the Test series against England by a 2-1 margin. According to Laxman, it would be a fair judgment considering the Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI) offer to play a Test during India’s white-ball tour of England next year.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has written to the ICC, asking it to adjudicate on the canceled Manchester Test. If the cricketing body concludes that the match could not go ahead due to COVID-19, the series could be awarded to India. However, if their observation is that India forfeited the game, the series could end 2-2.
Writing in his column for TOI, Laxman admitted that the abrupt end to the Test series in England was disappointing. Laxman, however, backed Team India over their decision to pull out of the last Test at Old Trafford owing to serious COVID-19 concerns. Laxman wrote:
"It was an abrupt, somewhat disappointing end to what had been a cracking series but given the circumstances in which the final Test at Old Trafford was cancelled, it's unfair to point fingers or play the blame game. More than a year and a half since the pandemic, the world is still far from a safe place. It might be tempting for many to see the Indian team as the villain of the piece, but I can say from our IPL experiences this summer that once any member of the team that you have been in close contact with tests positive, it is impossible not to be apprehensive, indeed fearful."
The fifth Test of the series was canceled just a few hours before the scheduled start of play. Indian physio Yogesh Parmar tested COVID-19 positive on the eve of the Manchester Test, following which the visitors expressed apprehensions over taking the field. Earlier, head coach Ravi Shastri and two support staff members had also returned positive tests at The Oval.
"To take the field in that mental state is far from ideal. So is the potential risk of endangering others on the park, be it your teammates, the officials or the opponents. Against that backdrop, I think the cancelation of the Test was the right call, though I feel deeply for the fans who had invested so much time, money and emotion in the contest. I hope the ICC sees the situation for what it is and awards the series 2-1 to India, particularly with the BCCI having offered to play a Test during their white ball tour of England next year."
India will be touring England for three ODIs and three T20Is in July 2022.
Bubble fatigue a factor, but there can't be any compromise on safety: VVS Laxman
According to Laxman, what transpired in England has reiterated that there cannot be any compromise on safety as COVID-19 threat remain a reality. Admitting that bio-bubble can take a toll on players, Laxman opined:
"What this episode reiterates is that we must not let our guard down. If that means having to stay in bubbles, even if the host country doesn't demand it, so be it. It might be tough on players, agreed, but it's better to be safe than sorry. I understand bubble fatigue can become a factor, but there can't be any compromise on safety.”
Before the canceled Manchester Test, India put up a wonderful all-round show at The Oval to win the Test by 157 runs and go 2-1 up in the series.