New Delhi: The Board of Control for Cricket in India president Sourav Ganguly said their players refused to play the fifth and final Test against England due to COVID-19 concerns and denied that the upcoming Indian Premier League had played any part in the decision. The Old Trafford Test was cancelled last Friday barely two hours before its scheduled start as the tourists, who were leading the series 2-1, failed to field a side after their physiotherapist tested positive for COVID-19.
“The players refused to play but you can’t blame them,” Ganguly told The Telegraph newspaper on Monday (September 13). “Physio Yogesh Parmar was such a close contact of the players … he mixed freely with the players and even performed their COVID-19 tests. He also used to give them a massage, he was part of their everyday lives.
“The players were devastated when they came to know that he had tested positive for COVID-19. They feared they must have contracted the disease and were dead scared.”
Former England captain Michael Vaughan has suggested that India’s players were ‘petrified’ of testing positive ahead of the IPL, which resumes on September 19 in the United Arab Emirates. But England and Wales Cricket Board CEO Tom Harrison has said the cancellation had nothing to do with the IPL and Ganguly echoed those comments.
“The BCCI will never be an irresponsible board. We value other boards too,” he said, adding that the match is likely to be held as a one-off match next year.
BCCI offers to play two extra T20Is in England next year
The BCCI has offered to play two extra T20 internationals in England next year following the last-minute cancellation of the fifth Test in Manchester due to COVID-19 concerns. According to a Daily Mail report, “However, the offer – designed to help ease a potential shortfall of 40 million pounds in English cricket’s already stretched budget – would be instead of, not as well as, the rescheduled Test. The offer of a rescheduled Test still stands.”
It may depend on whether the various broadcasters, who paid 25 million pounds for the rights to the Old Trafford Test, would be willing to settle for two evenings’ cricket rather than five full days. “There is also the question of corporate hospitality, tickets, and food and drink, with the potential earnings from a full Test match – over 10m pounds for the Manchester game – far in excess of what a pair of T20s could generate,” the report added.
India will be back in England next summer for three T20 and three one-day internationals, all squeezed into the first fortnight in July.
Meanwhile, there is still confusion over the result of the Test series, which India led 2-1 before the ‘cancelled’ game. The ECB has written to the world cricket governing body (ICC) to decide the fate of the cancelled fifth Test at Old Trafford.
It is learnt that the ECB wants the ICC’s Dispute Resolution Committee to address the issue and expect that a forfeiture would be granted so that they can claim insurance as they are going to lose approximately 40 million pounds if the match is declared abandoned due to COVID-19 and India will win the series 2-1. But if England get a forfeiture as per the DRC ruling, it will be a 2-2 verdict and the host nation can also claim insurance.
However, till Sunday the ICC officials had said they haven’t received any such mail from the ECB as yet.