England batsman Ollie Pope has suggested that playing the Sri Lanka tour behind closed doors and without the support of the Barmy Army would not have felt right.
Joe Root’s men should have been starting their two-match Test series against Sri Lanka at Galle tomorrow, with the sun on their faces and the roars of the Barmy Army spurring them on.
However, the ECB announced on Friday that the series had been postponed due to the worldwide Covid-19 outbreak.
It was, of course, the right decision to make as the health of players, staff, and fans are paramount but it is, nonetheless, a disappointing outcome.
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England’s preparations were well underway in Sri Lanka and the tourists had been impressive in their warm-up games.
Pope, in particular, had looked in good form – hitting two half-centuries – and was well set to carry on from where he left off in South Africa at the start of the year.
In a column for Sky Sports, he suggested it was the right call for the tour to be postponed and for the side not to play behind closed doors.
He said: “There has obviously been talk about playing sport behind closed doors during this period and if we had have done that in Sri Lanka I think it would have been a strange feeling.
“You sometimes find yourself playing in front of few people in in the County Championship as a lot of games are during the week but playing for your country you always picture packed houses.
“I remember the Barmy Army being amazing in Sri Lanka a couple of years ago. So it would have been odd if we had played in empty stadiums. It wouldn’t have affected our cricket at all but it wouldn’t have felt quite right in a way.”
The England and Surrey batsman also provided an insight into the feeling inside the Three Lions camp.
He said: “The difference I found between batting on the first day to the second was stark – everyone was talking about coronavirus and I was thinking about it. It was quite hard to focus on the job in hand.
“With a lot of the lads having wives and young kids back home their minds were with them, which wouldn’t have done much for their cricket, so we all thought the correct call was made.”