NEW DELHI: A "thorough re-evaluation" of cricket's messy international schedule is the only good thing that can come from the COVID-19 pandemic, feels the legendary Ian Chappell.
He said the sport has "only itself to blame for the bloated, unworkable schedule" that has emerged in the wake of the pandemic.
"Hollywood comedians Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy's signature line, 'Well, here's another fine mess you've got me into', could easily apply to cricket's current scheduling predicament. In the comedians' case it was heavyweight Hardy accusing his bumbling partner Laurel of yet another blunder. Cricket has only itself to blame for the bloated, unworkable schedule that the Covid pandemic has blown up like a left-over land mine," Chappell wrote in his column for ESPNcricinfo.
Sympathising with Pakistan after New Zealand abandoned their tour and England too cancelling their trip, the former Australia skipper said the cricket community needs to come together to get the game out of the "mess".
"Nevertheless that is what is needed - some sympathy, in the light of the constant Covid disruptions to the international calendar. From cricket's point of view, the only good that could come from the pandemic is a thorough re-evaluation of the schedule. However, that would require the cricket countries to come together in good faith with a view to making decisions in the best interests of the game," Chappell said.
"As we've seen over the years, and particularly in more recent times, the likelihood of this happening is about the same as that of Donald Trump displaying humility."
The 78-year-old batting great feels the treatment meted out to Pakistan by New Zealand and England was "harsh". That was followed in quick succession by New Zealand's last-minute withdrawal from a T20 series with Pakistan, which prompted England to cancel their proposed men's and women's tour of that country.
"There's no doubt that completing cricket tours unhindered during the pandemic is a precarious business. Just surviving from day to day is an accomplishment in the current climate. Nevertheless the treatment meted out to Pakistan, in particular, appears to be excessively harsh, considering the way they have unselfishly toured other countries during the pandemic," Chappell said.
He compared the current busy international schedule to "a block of Jarlsberg cheese with its trademark holes."
Chappell feels Afghanistan will soon lose its Test status following Taliban's decision to ban women from playing any sport in the strife-torn country after their recent takeover.
"This is especially so in the lamentable case of Afghanistan, where the dreaded Taliban have more or less decreed female sport is a no-no. This will more than likely result in the Afghanistan men's team having their first Test with Australia cancelled, and their probable ultimate removal from the status of Test-playing nation."
He said it's high time the game's governing body, the ICC, and the administrators work with the players to create a "more equitable" future roadmap. There's no better time for the administrators to call in that favour and work with the players to map out a better and more equitable future for the game," Chappell said.
"If that situation were to eventuate and the result is a workable schedule that accommodates all, cricket will have the pandemic to thank for helping extract itself from a nice mess of its own making."