BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Fast bowling legend Sir Andy Roberts has slammed the decision by Cricket West Indies to allow the tour of England to go ahead amid the COVID-19 pandemic, without ensuring there was financial benefit to be derived from the three-Test series.
The 69-year-old said while he did not have a problem with the series in principle, he did not believe West Indies should have been used as “guinea pigs” for the historic “bio-secure” series without financial reward, especially since the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) stood to save 380 million pounds sterling by convincing teams to honour commitments during the summer.
“I don’t have a problem with them negotiating to go to England,” said Sir Andy, who snatched 202 wickets from 47 Tests between 1974 and 1983.
“What I have a problem with is that there are talks about West Indies are not going to benefit from this tour financially which I think would be a mistake because the chances we’re going to take I don’t think much more countries are willing to take that chance.
“We’re taking a chance no one else is willing to take and why we’re taking that chance is to save England nearly 380 million pounds because if no one goes to England, they have to pay back that money.
“They are not willing to pay it back so why should we as guinea pigs go and sacrifice ourselves for nothing.”
West Indies were scheduled to tour England last month but the three-Test series was postponed as the United Kingdom wrestled with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a bid to rescue their summer schedule – and hundreds of millions of dollars in television revenue – the ECB proposed staging the series in a radical “bio-secure” environment.
Players will be isolated for the duration of the seven-week tour and play each Test behind closed doors at “bio-secure” venues with hotels on site.
Only recently, CWI chief executive Johnny Grave, said while the ECB had covered the “costs of all the mitigating factors” of the tour, the regional governing body would pick up the tab for player match fees and other allowances.
Further, Grave said the ECB would keep all revenue as was the norm for bilateral tours.
However, Sir Andy reiterated that the “risk” undertaken by West Indies on the tour should have accompanied by some special compensation.
“I think West Indies should have benefitted from this tour financially … because to save England 380 million pounds is a lot of savings,” the icon told Starcom Radio’s Mason and Guest show here.
“If they’re going to benefit financially from the tour, that’s not a problem but if they’re not going to benefit from it, then I have a problem. Why take the risk and sacrifice the guys for it.
“At this time, if we’re not going to benefit financially, I don’t think we should be the first to go.”
West Indies arrived in England on Tuesday and will undergo two weeks of quarantine and training at Old Trafford in Manchester ahead of the first Test at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton starting July 8.
The last two Tests will be staged at Old Trafford, starting July 16 and July 24, respectively.
Pakistan are expected to follow behind West Indies and are carded to play three Tests and One-Day Internationals in August.