England v India Tests - Men's
Fifth Test cancelled due to COVID-19 fears
India unable to field a team 'due to fears of a further increase in the number of COVID cases', the ECB says
10 September 2021, 05:53 PM AEST
The fifth Test between England and India has been cancelled after concerns over COVID-19 left the tourists unable to field a team at Old Trafford.
The series decider was due to get under way in Manchester at 11am (8pm AEST) but little more than two hours before the scheduled start a statement from the England and Wales Cricket Board confirmed the game would not be taking place.
Concerns over the viability of the fixture first appeared on the eve of the match, when India cancelled their final training session and failed to complete their mandatory press conference.
It later emerged that the squad was confined to its hotel after a new positive case was returned by one of their backroom team.
The threat appeared to recede when a fresh round of PCR testing came back negative on Wednesday evening, but after intense negotiations between the ECB and the Board of Control for Cricket in India the game was cancelled.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India released a statement saying both boards are committed to finding a window to reschedule the match.
It is understood that a number of Indian players harboured concerns over the spread of the virus and were unwilling to take the field, meaning the tourists could not put up an XI.
An ECB statement read: "Following ongoing conversations with the BCCI, the ECB can confirm that the fifth Test between England and India Men due to start today at 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."
India were 2-1 up in the series heading into the final match but the Test was thrown into doubt on Thursday after their physiotherapist Yogesh Parmar tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
India head coach Ravi Shastri had tested positive during the fourth Test at The Oval and has since been isolating with bowling coach Bharat Arun, fielding coach R Sridhar and physio Nitin Patel.
"In lieu (sic) of the strong relationship between BCCI and ECB, the BCCI has offered to ECB a rescheduling of the cancelled Test match," the BCCI said in a statement.
"Both the Boards will work towards finding a window to reschedule this Test match."
Former England captain Nasser Hussain called the situation a "mess".
Hussain told Sky Sports News: "I have a lot of sympathy with the Indian players as they've had two physios (test positive) and the second one would have been treating all the players with some sore bodies ahead of a fifth Test match.
"My actual sympathy is with the crowd. People would have taken days off work, booked hotels and you can imagine how people would have come here to watch this Test match with it set up perfectly - India 2-1 ahead and England looking to bounce back.
"It's a real shame that it has to end on such a low note."