While it may not have been the Ashes, there has still been plenty to enjoy over the course of England’s international cricketing summer. In particular, the Pakistan series, which garnered media attention for mostly the right reasons for a change. It was a hard-fought contest only marred by the occasional booze-lubricated boo in the direction of Pakistan’s returning convicted but reformed spot-fixer, Mohammed Amir, having served both his prison sentence and 5 year ban.
One of the indelible images of the summer was the seemingly ageless Pakistani Test captain, Misbah-ul-Haq (actually 42 years young) celebrating his century at Lord’s with a few press-ups and a salute to his team.
Now that England’s summer is over, attention turns to the winter tours to Bangladesh and India.
You may well remember the terrible news that recently in Dhaka, Bangladesh, more than 20 people, many of whom were foreign nationals, were killed by gunmen in a café. Clearly, an incident of this sort has huge ramifications, not least on foreign nationals travelling to or within the region.
Sport is no different and England’s tour to Bangladesh was being questioned. Following a security review by a delegation from the England and Wales Cricket Board (“ECB”), it was deemed safe and that the tour could go ahead.
However, it was clear that behind closed doors, players had misgivings. It was confirmed by the limited-overs captain, Eoin Morgan, that players would be allowed to make a “personal decision” as to whether they would go on the tour, despite the assurances by the ECB’s security advisor. It was suggested that a decision to opt out of the tour would not adversely affect the future of the player.
This is where it has become murky. Two key players, Morgan himself and Alex Hales, have opted out of the tour and many people are coming off their long runs with opinions. The ECB have stated that they are “disappointed” with the decision.
The obvious and immediate result is that both players allow their places to be taken during the tour, with the possibility that their replacement plays well enough to keep them out of the side going forward. This is particularly tricky with Morgan, as he is the current captain of the limited overs teams and has been very successful, overseeing a total overhaul in how England play the game since the World Cup debacle 18 months ago. Does he come straight back in as captain, or should he step down/be removed as captain for opting out of the tour? Is his authority diminished?
From an employment law perspective an employer would need to be careful where an employee has been led to believe that they will not suffer a detriment for a certain decision and the employer then imposes a detriment anyway.
If Morgan was promised that he was free to make a decision about the tour but is subsequently dropped and the captaincy lost because of his decision, it just wouldn’t be cricket. However, the murkiness continues – what if he is dropped simply because he is not good enough to be in the side? On the face of it, this is not based on his touring decision, but it was his decision which gave someone the opportunity to prove they should have his place. Suffice to say, this is a sticky wicket situation and it will be interesting to see how it plays out over the winter tours.
The squads for the Bangladesh tour have been announced today and, given the form of the players called up for the first time (just check out this season’s statistics for the teenage Hameed and the aggressive Duckett), both Morgan and Hales may find that their respective replacements play them out of the side. Many opinions have already been publicised and many more will surely come. Captain Morgan may need a drink or two before the winter is out.