The fifth Test between India and England was called off after fears of COVID-19 in the Indian camp. India assistant physio Yogesh Parmar had tested positive for the virus which led to the cancellation of the practice session on eve of the match. The Indian players though had tested negative and the match was all set to go ahead. However, few Indian players were not in favour of playing the match as they feared further spread of the virus.
The England cricket fraternity was not happy with the development and criticized the BCCI and Team India for their decision. They also alleged that BCCI denied a delayed start as it could have affected the second leg of the Indian Premier League (IPL). The England Cricket Board (ECB) now has issued a clarification and said that India values Test cricket and the cancellation of the 5th Test has nothing to with IPL.
“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,” ECB chief executive Tom 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.”
There are doubts about the scoreline of the series. Will the match be considered as a draw or England will be declared winners due to India walking out of the match? There are some answered questions which the fans are keen to know. When asked about the same, Harrison said ICC would take a call on the matter. Meanwhile, both boards are keenly trying to find a window to reschedule the match. As per reports, the fifth Test can be played when India tour England in July next year for six white-ball matches.
“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.”
ECB is set to incur huge financial losses due to the cancelled Test but Harrison said ECB is well equipped to cope up with the financial loss. “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.”