England v India Tests - Men's
IPL not a factor in Test cancellation: Ganguly
BCCI president explains why India players "refused to play" final Test against England, but denies lucrative IPL influenced decision
13 September 2021, 07:38 PM AEST
India's cricket board chief Sourav Ganguly said their players refused to play the fifth and final Test against England due to COVID-19 concerns and denied 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," former captain Ganguly told Indian newspaper The Telegraph on Monday.
"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," Ganguly said, adding that the match is likely to be held as a one-off match next year.
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."
Harrison has previously rejected the idea that the fear of missing out on the lucrative IPL had caused the disquiet among India's squad.
"Let me be super clear, I don't think the IPL has anything to do with this," he said.
- with cricket.com.au