The fifth and final Test between England and India in Manchester, scheduled to start on Friday (October 10), has been cancelled after some of the Indian players expressed concerns about taking the field after assistant physiotherapist Yogesh Parmar tested positive for COVID-19.
The BCCI later issued a statement, saying the two boards will try to reschedule the Test. "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 comprise on that aspect."
A COVID-related quarantine would have meant missing out on IPL matches, starting September 19. The players are also awaiting reports of a fresh round of tests that have been conducted.
The ECB initially announced that India had "forfeited" the Test, but later changed it to "India are regrettably unable to field a team".
"Following ongoing conversations with the BCCI, the ECB can confirm that the fifth LV= Insurance Test between England and India Men due to start today at Emirates Old Trafford, will be cancelled," the England and Wales Cricket Board said in their statement.
"Due to fears of a further increase in the number of COVID cases inside the camp, India are regrettably unable to field a team. We send our sincere apologies to fans and partners for this news, which we know will cause immense disappointment and inconvenience to many."
India were leading the five-match series 2-1 going into the final Test in Manchester. Under the competition terms of the World Test Championship, COVID-19 is identified as "acceptable non-compliance should there be a significant impact of it on the team being able to play." This is because the match can remain cancelled from the competition and with ICC using percentage points system based on points won in matches played, a cancelled match is of no value to any team.
After Parmar tested positive, India were forced to cancel their practice session ahead of the fifth Test. The players were asked to isolate and not to step out of their rooms till the RT-PCR tests turn up negative.
The players tested negative but with the 96-hour incubation period also factored in, they didn't want to risk testing positive and ending in a 10-day quarantine. It could also have meant 10-day isolation for some of the players, who will feature in the second half of the Indian Premier League.
There were many questions that cropped up during the last 12 hours for BCCI president Sourav Ganguly and secretary Jay Shah with a number of factors being taken into account. The Indian and English players were supposed to fly together in a charter flight. Also, deferring the game by a day or two would have caused logistical issues.
Three of India's coaching staff including head coach Ravi Shastri had tested positive for Covid-19 during the Oval Test and as a result, they did not travel to Manchester with the team.
(With inputs from PTI)