The fifth and final Test of the hard-fought series gets cancelled owing to COVID-19 scare; Indian players refuse to take the field
The development came after the touring side was left on tenterhooks following physiotherapist Yogesh Parmar’s positive COVID-19 test. The last game of the five-Test series was eventually cancelled a couple of hours before toss.
The initial statement issued by the England and Wales Cricket Board categorically mentioned the word “forfeit”, but that was later omitted from a revised media release. “Due to fears of a further increase in the number of COVID cases inside the camp, India is regrettably unable to field a team,” read the revised ECB statement.
It is learnt that the players, led by skipper Virat Kohli who voiced his apprehension strongly, couldn’t be convinced by the Board of Control for Cricket in India top brass to play the fixture. The BCCI issued a statement of its own, hoping that the Test match could be rescheduled sometime later.
“In lieu of the strong relationship between BCCI and ECB, the BCCI has offered to ECB a rescheduling of the cancelled Test match. Both the Boards will work towards finding a window to reschedule this Test match,” BCCI secretary Jay Shah said.
A COVID-related quarantine would have meant missing out on Indian Premier League 2021 Phase 2 matches in the UAE, starting September 19. “Following ongoing conversations with the BCCI, the ECB can confirm that the fifth Test between England and India Men, due to start on Friday at Old Trafford, will be cancelled,” the ECB stated.
As of now, India is 2-1 ahead and has not been officially declared winner of the series because there is a chance for the fifth Test to be played during the window in July next year, when the team visits for a six-match white-ball assignment. Ever since the Indian players refused to play despite testing negative on Thursday, there have been continuous talks between the two Boards.
“The BCCI and ECB held several rounds of discussion to find a way to play the Test Match. However, the outbreak of COVID-19 in the Indian team contingent forced the decision of calling off the Old Trafford Test Match,” added Shah. Ultimately, the apprehension expressed by Kohli and Co. took precedence.
The COVID-19 rules for the World Test Championship matches do not include forfeiture. Under the competition terms of the WTC, COVID-19 is identified as “acceptable non-compliance should there be a significant impact of it on the team being able to play.”