Former England captain Nasser Hussain expressed surprise that England ended the tour of South Africa due to medical grounds after multiple instances of bubble breach. Hussain said he found it ‘incredibly odd’ that England didn’t play on given they had an extended squad, pointing that other teams had helped ECB save a lot of money by touring them this summer.
“There are questions to answer. For one, it does seem incredibly odd that an England squad who have not been affected by Covid at all during their stay in South Africa have upped sticks and gone home with three games left to play,” Hussain wrote in his column for Daily Mail.
“Maybe down the line, the players might look back on this and think, ‘Could we have played those games? Was it that bad?’
“After all, they only have to think back to the summer to remember what West Indies, Pakistan, Australia and Ireland did to make sure the English season could take place in full. It saved millions of pounds for the ECB.
“Then look at all the effort and money Cricket South Africa put into this short tour to make sure the lights could be kept switched on for international cricket.
“Could England, who brought an enlarged squad here to cope with this sort of situation, not have played those 50-over games? Could they have reacted differently in South Africa’s hour of need?”
Hussain said it was peculiar that England didn’t head home immediately after the tour was called off on Monday.
“There are some peculiarities here. Once England had said on Monday they would not fulfil the fixtures, I thought they would be out of here immediately on their charter flight. But they are staying in the bubble — that has been breached — until Thursday. Wouldn’t it have been better to get out and play than stay in the affected hotel?”
However, Hussain felt the only possible explanation was that the players were not in a proper mental state to continue.
“But, as Giles said, they cannot have been in the right frame of mind to play and the bottom line is that it has been affecting the players’ mental health, while bubble fatigue after nine months of playing cricket in an unnatural environment is kicking in,” he wrote.
“…if the ECB are rightfully saying the players’ well-being is their primary concern then they had little option than to listen when the team told them this week they were feeling anxious and wanted out.
“It would have been double standards from Giles and Co if they hadn’t reacted the way they’ve done this week.”