India-England Old Trafford Test not cancelled due to IPL, says ECB

Fifth and final Test at Old Trafford was cancelled barely two hours before its scheduled start on Friday after the tourists failed to field a side following a Covid-19 case in their camp

The England and Wales Cricket Board has denied that the final Test against India at Old Trafford was cancelled due to the tourists' fears that delaying the match could affect their involvement in the rescheduled Indian Premier League (IPL).

The fifth and final Test at Old Trafford was cancelled barely two hours before its scheduled start on Friday after the tourists failed to field a side following a Covid-19 case in their camp.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan suggested that Indian players were "petrified" of testing positive ahead of the IPL, which resumes on September 19 in the UAE, but ECB chief executive Tom Harrison said he did not believe that was the case.

"This is not a situation which has been created by the rescheduled IPL ... That's not the case. This Indian cricket team are as passionate about Test cricket as fans in our country are and as our cricket team are as well," Harrison told BBC Sport.

"India simply felt that they got to a point where they weren't able to take to the field. That is understandable.

"As administrators, we need to be really clear that mental health has to be a priority for us when we're thinking about the length of tours and the conditions under which people were expected to perform."

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.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India said it was working towards finding a window to reschedule the match "jointly decided" by both boards .

Quote
India simply felt that they got to a point where they weren't able to take to the field. That is understandable
Tom Harrison, England and Wales Cricket Board

However, with the lucrative IPL, itself disrupted by Covid, set to restart in less than 10 days, the Test will not happen anytime soon.

Harrison said it was a "very sad day for Test cricket internationally" and added that the International Cricket Council (ICC) would adjudicate over whether the series is completed.

India are slated to tour England next year for a white-ball series, it could yet be slotted in at Old Trafford.

"We are looking forward to making sure that we can reschedule this match to some point in the near future," he told a news conference.

"Effectively whether that fifth match is null and void or whether it is actually regarded as something else, a forfeiture ... I don't know where that conversation goes, but it's not one for today."

Harrison also said the ECB could cope with the financial impact of a cancelled match having put mitigation strategies in place.

"Over the course of a season as complex as 2021 has been ... you're not always writing down 100% of expectation against every single day of that season. I think we've got sensible risk analysis," he added.

"This is a big blow but it's one that we will get over quickly from a financial perspective ... But the hit the fans have taken, that international Test cricket has taken at losing the fifth match in an iconic test series like this, that takes longer."

Meanwhile an enthralling series featuring three hundreds from England captain Joe Root, several fine innings from India's Rohit Sharma and bewitching bowling from the tourists spearhead, Jasprit Bumrah, had been denied a fitting finale and now seems set to be marked with an asterisk in Wisden, cricket's annual of record.

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Updated: September 11th 2021, 5:52 AM
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