MANCHESTER: The fifth and deciding Test between England and India, due to start in Manchester on Friday, has been cancelled at the last minute over fears of a Covid-19 outbreak in tourists’ camp.
In a statement, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said fears over the coronavirus related to an outbreak among backroom staff had left the tourists unable to field a team at Old Trafford.
Play should have got under way at 11:00 am local time (1000 GMT) but just over two hours before the start, the ECB announced the match would not take place.
“Following ongoing conversations with the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India), the ECB can confirm that the fifth Test between England and India men due to start today at Emirates Old Trafford, will be cancelled,” an ECB statement said.
Following ongoing conversations with the BCCI, the ECB can confirm that the fifth LV= Insurance Test at Emirates Old Trafford, due to start today, will be cancelled.
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) September 10, 2021
“Due to fears of a further increase in the number of COVID cases inside the camp, India are regrettably unable to field a team,” it added. The statement originally continued: “and India will instead regrettably forfeit the match.”
That line was quickly removed, with the cricket authorities of both nations debating whether the Test will be ruled a forfeit or a cancellation that would see India earn bragging rights as 2-1 series winners.
India cancelled their final training session and mandatory pre-match press conference on Thursday after reports that another support staff member had tested positive for COVID-19.
India were already without head coach Ravi Shastri, bowling coach Bharat Arun and fielding coach Ramakrishnan Sridhar, who had all previously tested positive.
Reports said several Indian players harboured concerns over the spread of the virus and were unwilling to play, meaning India could not put out a team. India were 2-1 up in the five-match contest and bidding for just a fourth series win in England.