Sourav Ganguly, the president of the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI), said the Indian players refused to play the fifth and final test against England due to COVID-19 concerns and denied that the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL) had played any part in the decision.
The Old Trafford test was cancelled last Friday barely two hours before its scheduled start with the visiting Indian side leading the series 2-1. There was uncertainty surrounding the Test as there were four COVID-19 positive cases in the Indian coaching camp, including head coach Ravi Shastri. All the players, however, tested negative.
“The players refused to play but you can’t blame them. Physio Yogesh Parmar was such a close contact of the players. Being the only one available after Nitin Patel isolated himself, 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. It’s not easy staying in a bubble. Of course, you have to respect their feelings,” Ganguly told Kolkata-based Telegraph on Monday.
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 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,” he said, adding that the match is likely to be held as a one-off match next year.