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Sports

BCCI offers to reschedule cancelled England-India Test

  • Match was cancelled just over two hours before the scheduled start of play over coronavirus fears
Updated 10 Sep 2021

MANCHESTER: India cricket chiefs offered to reschedule the fifth Test against England on Friday after it was "jointly decided" to cancel the match just over two hours before the scheduled start of play over coronavirus fears.

The tourists were 2-1 up in the five-match contest after a 157-run win in the fourth Test and were bidding to complete a notable double just months after winning a series in Australia.

The status of the Old Trafford Test -- and the five-match series -- remains uncertain after the England and Wales Cricket Board retracted an initial statement that India had "forfeited" the match.

"The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) along with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have jointly decided to call off the fifth Test match scheduled at Manchester in India's ongoing tour of England 2021," the BCCI said in a statement.

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The BCCI said it had held talks with the ECB to find a way to play the game but Covid cases among backroom staff had forced their hand, adding that the wellbeing of players was "paramount".

"In lieu of the strong relationship between BCCI and ECB, the BCCI has offered to ECB a rescheduling of the cancelled Test match," the statement said.

"Both the boards will work towards finding a window to reschedule this Test match."

Rescheduling the fifth Test is complicated by the imminent re-start of the lucrative Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament, which resumes in the United Arab Emirates on September 19.

The IPL, which started in India, was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year.

Earlier, it was the ECB had said fears over the coronavirus, related to an outbreak among backroom staff, had left India unable to field a team at Old Trafford.

Play was due to get under way at 11:00 am local time (1000 GMT) but just over two hours before the start, the ECB announced the match would not take place.

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"Due to fears of a further increase in the number of Covid cases inside the camp, India are regrettably unable to field a team."

India cancelled their final training session and mandatory pre-match press conference on Thursday after reports that a physiotherapist who had been in close contact with the players had tested positive for Covid.

India were already without head coach Ravi Shastri, bowling coach Bharat Arun and fielding coach Ramakrishnan Sridhar, who had all previously tested positive.

India cancel eve of Test training session amid reported new Covid case

On Thursday evening, it had appeared the match was going ahead when a fresh round of tests within the India camp produced a set of negative results. But following talks between the ECB and BCCI the fixture was called off -- the first home men's international to have been cancelled in England since the start of the pandemic.

Reports said several Indian players has expressed concerns over the spread of the virus and were unwilling to play, meaning India could not put out a team.

The BCCI said in a statement that the boards had "jointly decided" to call off the match and that it could not compromise the safety and wellbeing of players.

Covid is an acceptable reason for cancelling a match under the regulations for the World Test Championship if it has a significant impact on a side's ability to field a team.

The India squad have dealt with several Covid cases since arriving England in June for the inaugural World Test Championship final in Southampton, where they were beaten by New Zealand.

The first was in July when Rishabh Pant, the first-choice Test wicketkeeper, tested positive.

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