Indian Men’s Cricket Team’s Tryst With COVID-19 on Tour of England
The fifth Test between India and England has been cancelled after COVID-19 outbreak in the Indian camp.
The Indian men’s cricket team have been in England for quite a while, starting early June to mid-September and unfortunately there have been instances of COVID-19 hitting the camp. Bad enough for the final Test to be called off.
The latest instance was physio Yogesh Parmar, who tested positive on the eve of the final Test in Manchester, and understandably causing a fair amount of concern and chaos. Thankfully for everyone involved, the rest of tests returned negative on Thursday.
While the England Cricket Board and BCCI look for a window to reschedule the cancelled Test, The Quint looks to trace the events backwards.
What Happened in London Before Manchester?
At the Oval Test, India won handsomely to take an unassailable lead in the series, however, the head coach Ravi Shastri, bowling coach Bharat Arun and fielding coach R Sridhar weren’t pitch side on the last two days of the Test.
The three coaches had to isolate after Shastri’s lateral flow test returned positive on Day 4. By the time the final day rolls on, all three coaches are confirmed to have tested COVID-19 positive. They continue to isolate in London and have not travelled for the Manchester Test.
On the eve of the Oval Test, Shastri had attended his book launch, on 1 September, which was held at the team hotel itself. The Indian travelling contingent had attended the event, and it was reported that a few outsiders were present too. India captain Virat Kohli too was present at the launch.
According to a report in The Times of India, the head coach also attended an event to celebrate the 50th anniversary of India’s first win at The Oval in 1971.
Shastri may have got the symptoms after attending the launch of his book in the team hotel where outside guests were also allowed. However, it could have been any other place from where the infection came as the hotel for the team was open to public as well.
According to the current rules in UK, the players and the support staff who are fully vaccinated are not operating in strict bio-bubbles with life their returning to normalcy. This allows players to go for walks or to outdoor cafes as well.
The BCCI, however, in early July, specifically advised caution, asking the contingent to stay away from crowded places.
What is the BCCI’s Stand About the London Events?
After the Oval Test win, it was suggested the BCCI were not planning to look into the matter of the book launch or any other function.
"COVID-19 is something that can happen to anyone. Besides, the United Kingdom government has removed restrictions and opened movement. So, people are allowed to move freely," said a top BCCI official to IANS.
However, the BCCI is reportedly unhappy and will probe the series of events starting from London.
Speaking to IANS, a BCCI official said that it all started with a small mistake.
“One mistake can make things difficult for everybody. The coach and the captain went out for a book launch and here we are seeing COVID cases within the team. This is scary,” the official added.
Times of India quoted a top BCCI official as saying that “the board will probe the matter” and that the coach and the captain will be asked to explain their side of events after the fourth Test at Oval.”
Were There Instances Before the Oval Test?
The coaches and the second physio testing positive for COVID-19 wasn’t the only instance for the Indian camp.
Bowling coach Bharat Arun had to isolate from 14 July for 10 days along with Wriddhiman Saha and Abhimanyu Easwaran, after they were identified as close contacts of throwdown specialist Dayanand Garani, who tested positive for COVID-19.
Before this, India’s wicket-keeper batter Rishabh Pant too was in a spot of bother. He had visited Wembley in London to watch the England vs Germany football match in Euro 2020 and tested positive after that. He missed the warm-up game in Durham before the series started.
Hanuma Vihari and Jasprit Bumrah too visited the Wembley to watch Euro 2020 while Shastri and R Ashwin, who played a County Championship match for Surrey, had visited Wimbledon.
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