Indian players showed apprehension in taking the field for the fifth and final Test of the series, with a close contact Yogesh Parmar testing positive for the virus. It had taken the total positive cases in the camp to four and the players backed out at the last moment, leading to England demanding a forfeiture to claim their insurance payout. However, BCCI offered to play extra T20Is or a one-off Test match in their tour next year, which BCCI President Ganguly believes can be an extension of the Test series.
However, VVS Laxman feels that with BCCI's offer in mind, ICC should award series 2-1 to India.
"It was an abrupt, somewhat disappointing end to what had been a cracking series but given the circumstances in which the final Test at Old Trafford was cancelled, it's unfair to point fingers or play the blame game. More than a year and a half since the pandemic, the world is still far from a safe place. It might be tempting for many to see the Indian team as the villain of the piece, but I can say from our IPL experiences this summer that once any member of the team that you have been in close contact with tests positive, it is impossible not to be apprehensive, indeed fearful," Laxman wrote in his column for Times of India.
"To take the field in that mental state is far from ideal. So is the potential risk of endangering others on the park, be it your teammates, the officials or the opponents. Against that backdrop, I think the cancellation of the Test was the right call, though I feel deeply for the fans who had invested so much time, money, and emotion in the contest. I hope the ICC sees the situation for what it is and awards the series 2-1to India, particularly with the BCCI has offered to play a Test during their white-ball tour of England next year," Laxman added.
England had relaxed their rules before the series and the players were allowed to move around. Even ECB chief executive Tom Harrison had stated that the world had to move on from bubbles for the mental health of the players. Laxman stated that this episode teaches us the importance of not letting the guard down.
"What this episode reiterates is that we must not let our guard down. If that means having to stay in bubbles, even if the host country doesn't demand it, so be it. It might be tough on players, agreed, but it's better to be safe than sorry. I understand bubble fatigue can become a factor, but there can't be any compromise on safety. As for the series itself, it was heady and tempestuous. Fortunes swung wildly though I don't think anyone was in any doubt about which was the better side; 3-1 to India would have been an accurate reflection of the strengths of the two teams and the quality of cricket they brandished," Laxman opined.