Despite ECB Assurances, Fifth Test Cancelled; BCCI Offers to Reschedule Match
The BCCI has offered to reschedule the fifth Test against England which has been cancelled on Friday.
It took a few hours of confusion and discussions, on Friday morning, but ultimately the BCCI and ECB decided to cancel the fifth Test between India and England that was to start today at the Old Trafford.
The boards' hand was forced after Ravi Shastri and two other members of India's support staff tested positive for COVID over the weekend and then on the eve of the fifth Test, India's assistant physio also returned a positive Test.
BCCI Offer to Reschedule Match
India lead the five match Test series 2-1 but the cancellation of the match does not mean the visitors' get to take home the Pataudi Trophy. Instead, the BCCI said they have offered to reschedule the 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," said the Indian cricket board in their official statement putting to rest reports that they had agreed to forfeit the game," read the board's official statement.
Indian Players Not Keen to Continue
The ECB also issued a press statement to announce the cancellation of the match, in which they did clarify that the decision to not continue and play on, was one that the BCCI had been keen on.
"Due to fears of a further increase in the number of COVID cases inside the camp, India are unable to field a team and will instead regrettably forfeit the match.
"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 ECB's statement read.
ECB chief executive Tom Harrison, while speaking to Sky Sports, also explained how their board had tried to give many assurances to the Indian cricketers, but ultimately the positive test of their assistant physio had left a question of 'what might happen' in the players' minds.
"It became quite clear yesterday (Thursday) morning-lunch time that there was a problem in terms of the anxiety levels in the Indian team, causing some concerns. It wasn’t the outbreak of COVID but the perception of what might happen post the physio testing positive. Over the course of the day we tried to give as many assurances as well could, to give comfort to the players. We tested again yesterday evening and those tests came back negative but I think once you have that sense of anxiety and concern in a dressing room, it can be very difficult to reverse that," said Harrison.
What Next For Test Series?
While speaking to Sky Sports, the ECB chief executive also clarified that in case the two teams do play a rescheduled fixture to complete the series, it will be a one-off match.
"Any rescheduled match would be a standalone match," Tom Harrison said.
India currently lead the five match Pataudi Trophy series 2-1.
"It's a decision for ICC to think about in the context of the World Test Championship," Harrison further added when asked about the boards' next move.
"Nobody is trying to score points here. It's about making the right decisions given the context of what's taking place and to be fair to each side. That is all we are asking for and that process will take place over the coming weeks. It is not something that concerns us unduly. We just expect the people that are in place to make those decisions make those decisions"
Intense Discussion Over Two Days
The development comes on the back of intense discussions between the Indian cricket board (BCCI) and the ECB after India's assistant physiotherapist Yogesh Parmar returned a positive Covid-19 test on Thursday.
India cancelled their training session on the eve of the Test and a subsequent round of testing showed no positive results among players, leading to a decision to play the Test as planned.
However, the announcement to cancel the match came an hour and 45 minutes before the toss at 3pm IST on Friday.
It has been also reported that more than one India player had expressed concerns about taking the field in talks between the BCCI and the team management over the last two days.
Earlier, while the Indian team was in London, coaches Ravi Shastri, Bharat Arun and R Sridhar had tested positive for COVID-19.
The contingent had also attended Shastri’s book launch on the eve of the Oval Test.
(This story was auto-published from a syndicated feed. No part of the story has been edited by The Quint.)
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