England’s fifth and final LV= Insurance Test against India has been cancelled after India’s players sensationally refused to play at Old Trafford.
The Test was due to start today in Manchester, in front of a capacity 21,000 crowd, but in an extraordinary turn of events has been called off after four members of India's backroom staff tested positive for Covid-19.
Physiotherapist Yogesh Parmar tested positive on Wednesday night, joining coach Ravi Shastri and two other members of staff in isolation – which led to India cancelling their training session at Old Trafford and being consigned to their rooms at Manchester’s Radisson Hotel before undergoing another round of PCR tests.
However, all tests came back negative and with India leading an epic series 2-1, it seemed fans would get the exciting conclusion they craved.
However, that was all thrown into jeopardy after India's players then insisted on a further round of PCR tests, meaning the opening day of the Test could not go ahead. Inevitably, the game was then cancelled.
The complications seem to centre around the the resumption of the Indian Premier league in the UAE next week, with India’s players desperate not to miss the lucrative tournament. Therefore, concerns that they might subsequently test positive and be forced into isolation rather than board their scheduled flight to Dubai next Wednesday seems to have caused anxiety in the camp.
The controversy began two days before the fourth test at The Oval when members of the Indian part attended a book launch in London unknown to the ECB.
Shastri and his bowling coach Bharat Arun and fielding coach R Sridhar tested positive after that function and had to remain in isolation in London.
And now today's decision could have huge financial ramifications. With 21,000 people due to be at Old Trafford today for a Test that is worth £30million in broadcasting and ticket sales, the development is likely to be met with anger and the ECB have moved quickly to apologise to fans.
An ECB statement read: "Following ongoing conversations with the BCCI, the ECB can confirm that the fifth LV= Insurance 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."
It is also unclear at this stage whether India's 2-1 lead in the series will stand as the final result.
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