England pulling out of the two-Test series against Sri Lanka amid the Coronavirus outbreak was a “very tough but necessary decision” said Stuart Broad, who credited the ECB for “putting the players and the fans first”. Describing the mood in the England camp before it was decided to call off the tour, Broad said the players’ thoughts surrounded around their family back home with a “lot of ‘what ifs’ from the players’ point of view”.
“The atmosphere has been quite different in Sri Lanka because there have not been as many cases of coronavirus, so although as a squad we have instigated social spacing, and have been very careful, we have not witnessed any of the changes in daily life that have perhaps occurred here. Not felt any of the hustle and bustle,” wrote Broad in a column for the Mail on Sunday. “The mood changed within the past three or four days, though, with the spread seemingly gathering pace and sporting events increasingly coming under threat. Naturally, during this time, a lot of questions started being asked. There were a lot of ‘what ifs’ from the players’ point of view.
“What would happen if one of us got it? The whole squad would have to go into 14-day quarantine. What would happen if a family member fell ill at home, and we had been in quarantine overseas? That would have meant no way of getting back to them. What would happen if one of our supporters got it and it then started spreading through the rest of the fans? There were an estimated 3,000 set to travel,” added Broad.
Broad praised the ECB for taking the decision of postponing the tour given the current situation all around the world. With several sporting events around the globe being called off, Broad said the England team was anxious about their situation before the ECB stepped in and took the right call despite the financial ramifications of calling off a tour.
“Over the past couple of days, it has almost been as if the world has started to realise how serious this really is, and started shutting down things. The NBA was called off, the Melbourne Grand Prix was called off, golf’s Players Championship was called off. Suddenly, it was like ‘wow.’ These major worldwide events were being postponed and there was a feeling within our group that we ought to think about where we stood. Thankfully it did not come to that. The call came from the top, whether from Tom Harrison, or Ashley Giles, or others in the hierarchy at the ECB.
“They made a very tough but necessary decision and credit to them for putting the players and the fans first. It can’t have been easy, with all the financial aspects of a tour like this, and ultimately we want to be playing cricket for England so we were sad to be leaving. Despite the disappointment, though, the right decision has been made and we all look forward to coming back and completing this series at some stage,” Broad wrote.
Earlier, England captain Joe Root had mentioned that the feeling in the England camp was that of relief as soon as the tour was called off, with the focus of the players not being on cricket. “There was an element of relief,” Root told PA. “The right decision has been made. You could see looking at the players that their minds were elsewhere thinking about people back home. Now that we can go and look after families and be with loved ones that’s put a lot of guys at ease.
“Naturally there was a lot of talk in the dressing room and it got to a stage where it overshadowed the cricket. Looking at how quickly things have happened at home, you’re thinking about family and friends who might be a bit more vulnerable and that’s hard when you’re a long way away. It was clear it was getting in the way of performance and affecting the mental well-being of the guys,” added Root.