Final Test between England and India cancelled due to Covid concerns

ECB release statement saying opponents are unable to field team for Manchester clash

The fifth and final Test between England and India was due to start at Old Trafford in Manchester on Friday morning. Getty
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The fifth and final Test between England and India has been cancelled due to the tourists' concerns over a possible Covid-19 outbreak.

Just hours before the scheduled start at Old Trafford, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) released a statement saying India would be unable to field a team.

The original statement suggested that India will “forfeit the match” although that line was removed in an updated version, which said: “Following ongoing conversations with the BCCI, the ECB can confirm that the fifth Test between England and India Men due to start today at Emirates Old Trafford, will be cancelled.

“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. Further information will be shared in due course.”

The match in Manchester had already been in doubt after another member of the India backroom staff had tested positive for Covid-19.

Head coach Ravi Shastri, bowling coach Bharat Arun and fielding coach Ramakrishnan Sridhar have already been ruled out of attending the series finale following positive tests for the virus.

But an ECB spokesman said later on Thursday that all subsequent PCR tests from the India squad had produced negative results and that the Test “goes ahead".

It is understood that a number of Indian players harboured concerns over the spread of the virus and were unwilling to take the field, meaning the tourists could not put up an XI.

Any attempt to reschedule the Test would have been complicated by the Indian Premier League, which restarts on September 19 in the UAE.

Former India batsman Dinesh Karthik said the tourists had got the “jitters” after their second physio had tested positive for coronavirus.

Karthik, who plays for Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL and is currently in Dubai ahead of the tournament, told Sky Sports: “I spoke to a few of the guys and this is tiring. The problem is that this physio has got Covid and that’s when they got the jitters.

“If it was someone dealing with logistics they wouldn’t be this afraid. But you have to understand that as soon as this finishes they have got the IPL, then the World Cup, then the New Zealand series and we are literally talking about one-week turnaround. How many bubbles can they do?

“They assembled in India on May 16 and it’s four months now. That’s a lot of time.”

India went into the match with a 2-1 lead in the five-game series after their 157-run win at The Oval on Monday.

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Updated: September 11, 2021, 4:01 AM