The fifth and final Test between India and England which was scheduled to be held in Manchester has been cancelled due to COVID-19 cases and fears in the Indian camp. With the Indian side already missing head coach Ravi Shastri, bowling coach Bharat Arun and fielding coach Ramakrishnan Sridhar due to positive Covid tests, with senior physiotherapist Nitin Patel self-isolating, not to take the field, a physiotherapist in close contact with the players had tested also positive for Covid as per reports.
“The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) along with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have jointly decided to call off the 5th Test Match scheduled at Manchester in ongoing India’s tour of England 2021. 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. 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. The BCCI has always maintained that the safety and well-being of the players is of paramount importance and there will be no compromise on that aspect. The BCCI would like to thank the ECB for their co-operation and understanding in these trying times. We would like to apologise to the fans for not being able to complete an enthralling series.” BCCI statement read.
The match was cancelled after all-night talks, shortly before 9:00 am local time just over two hours before the scheduled start and minutes before the gates at Old Trafford were due to open to a sell-out crowd of 22,000. A decision that has left English cricket facing a financial ‘black hole’ estimated at £40 million ($55 million), as per a report by news18.
Unlike last year, where teams were kept in bio-secure bubbles, the 2021 international season in England has seen restrictions loosened as officials felt it was unsustainable to expect sides to keep playing under such strict regulations.
Meanwhile Shastri’s presence at a well-attended London launch of his new book two days before the fourth Test at the Oval, also became a topic of much heated debates.
So too does England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chief executive Tom Harrison’s contention that fear of Covid, rather than Covid itself, was the reason behind the cancellation — a difference which could impact on the hosts ability to make an insurance claim.
“It doesn’t make a difference in respect of ticket buyers; they will be paid back in full,” said Harrison. “It makes a difference in terms of the ECB balance sheet.”
Covid is an acceptable reason for cancelling a match under the regulations for the World Test Championship if it has a significant impact on a side fielding a team.
The International Cricket Council are now set to decide the result of the match and series — which India led 2-1 to leave them on the brink of a notable double after their series win in Australia earlier this year — although a quick verdict is unlikely.
“I think we have to just take a breath and do some work with the ICC, to formally ask them to adjudicate on the result of this,” added Harrison.