England v India Tests - Men
Cancelled or rescheduled? Ganguly adds to Test confusion
India's cricket board chief delivered conflicting statements on the status of the England series according to reports in Indian media as fall out from Old Trafford continues
14 September 2021, 08:04 AM AEST
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Sourav Ganguly has added to the confusion over the status of the Old Trafford Test with conflicting statements about how the series will be resolved.
The fifth Test between India and England was called off 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 boards have agreed a replacement Test will be held next year in England's summer, although whether it will be a standalone or the fifth Test in the series remains unclear.
"The players refused to play but you can't blame them," former captain Ganguly told Indian newspaper The Telegraph on Monday.
"The BCCI will never be an irresponsible board. We value other boards too. Whenever it’s held next year, it should be a one-off match since it cannot be a continuation of the series any more."
However, Ganguly was later reported to have said the BCCI wanted the test to be considered the final one in the series.
"We want the series to be completed as this will be our first series win (in England) since 2007," Ganguly was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India.
"We are ready to play extra ODI and T20Is and that's not an issue. Just that the Test match that will be played later will be the fifth match of the series."
India captain Virat Kohli described the situation as "unfortunate" after arriving in the UAE on a chartered flight organised by his IPL franchise, Royal Challengers Bangalore.
"Unfortunate that we had to end up here early, but with COVID in place, things are very uncertain. Anything can happen at any time," Kohli said in an RCB diary.
"Hopefully, we're able to maintain a good, strong, and secure environment, and have a quality IPL.
"It's going to be an exciting phase and a very important one for us at RCB and then for the Indian team at the T20 World Cup."
All arrivals into the UAE for the IPL, including those from Australia as well as those from England, have to quarantine in their hotel rooms for six days before joining their squads.
Ganguly denied that the upcoming IPL had played any part in the players' refusal to participate in the fifth Test.
"Physio Yogesh Parmar was such a close contact of the players ... he mixed freely with the players and even performed their COVID-19 tests," Ganguly told Indian newspaper The Telegraph.
"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.
"Let me be super clear, I don't think the IPL has anything to do with this," he said.
India's head coach Ravi Shastri, along with other support staff had tested positive during the preceding Test at The Oval.
British newspaper The Daily Mail revealed Shastri had attended a launch of his new book Stargazing: The Players In My Life in London in the days leading into that match, but Ganguly said the touring group needed to be able to enjoy their freedoms.
"How long can you stay confined to your hotel rooms? Can you stay locked at your home day in and day out?" he said
"You can't be restricted to a life where you go from the hotel to the ground and return to the hotel. This is humanly not possible.
"You can't stay in a bubble forever. Life has to open up. These players and support staff have been in a bubble for more than a year now. It's no joke. It's very demanding physically and mentally."
- with cricket.com.au