David Gower has urged the rest of world cricket to follow the West Indies in demonstrating a “spirit of co-operation” as the global game looks to get back on its feet amid the coronavirus.
The West Indies are due to arrive in England next week, ahead of a three-match Test series rescheduled for July even though the pandemic has claimed at least 48,000 lives in Britain, according to official figures.
International matches are central to the financing of the game at all levels, with the England and Wales Cricket Board estimating it could lose £252 million ($316 million) if there are no fixtures at all this summer as a result of COVID-19.
“The West Indies have done us a favor,” former England captain Gower told Britain’s Press Association.
“It is a unique situation and one with huge pressures. It will be a huge relief for these games to happen because getting going again is the key,” he added.
Gower, the newly-installed president of the Lord’s Taverners, a cricket-related charity that supports disabled and disadvantaged young people, added: “Let’s face it, last year was extraordinary with the World Cup win (by England) and an exciting Ashes but the problem for any sport is that the public consciousness only lasts a short while.
“With the exception of football, probably, if you haven’t got live sport you’ve got nothing to pin tomorrow’s newspaper or the next five-minute clip on television or radio.
“The losses this year will be sizeable and any loss of income impacts the whole game, from the Test team to counties, to clubs and schools.”
Gower said the sport had been grappling with a number of major issues prior to the pandemic.
“There were lots of problems in cricket before Covid-19, particularly in terms of the nations outside India, Australia and England, and issues around finance and structure.
“They won’t go away on their own but if all this does help foster a spirit of co-operation, so much the better.
“It would be great if there was a feeling of all being in this together and if the old power struggles could be set aside in favor of keeping everyone in business, getting games on and keeping everyone safe,” he insisted.