"India are regrettably unable to field a team."
The fifth Test between England and India at Old Trafford was called off on the morning of the match following Covid-19 concerns among the touring party.
The England and Wales Cricket Board thought the fifth Test would go ahead after India’s players had negative PCR tests.
However, on September 10, 2021, at 8:44 am, the governing body said the match had been cancelled.
Some of India’s backroom staff had tested positive and as a result, were unable to field a team.
It has left the result of the series uncertain. Virat Kohli’s side lead 2-1 and an initial statement from the ECB said:
“India are regrettably unable to field a team and will instead forfeit the match.”
This was soon amended with India’s forfeiture removed.
The updated statement read: “Following ongoing conversations with the BCCI, the ECB can confirm that the fifth LV= Insurance Test between England and India men due to start today at Emirates 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.
“Further information will be shared in due course.”
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) says it has made an offer to the ECB to reschedule the Test match.
A BCCI statement said: “In lieu of the strong relationship between BCCI and ECB, the BCCI has offered to ECB a rescheduling of the cancelled Test match.
“Both the Boards will work towards finding a window to reschedule this Test match.
“The BCCI and ECB held several rounds of discussion to find a way to play the Test match, however, the outbreak of Covid-19 in the Indian team contingent forced the decision of calling off the Old Trafford Test match.
“The BCCI has always maintained that the safety and well-being of the players is of paramount importance and there will be no comprise on that aspect.”
India’s Covid-19 outbreak started when head coach Ravi Shastri tested positive during the team’s fourth Test win. This forced three staff members to self-isolate.
Another member of the backroom staff tested positive on September 9, 2021.
But it was declared that the Test would go ahead as planned.
However, the match was cancelled just a few hours before it was due to begin at 11 am.
The ECB is now due to refund at least 63,000 tickets from the first three sold-out days at Old Trafford.
Lancashire chief executive Daniel Gidney said:
“As a club, we are absolutely devastated about the late cancellation.”
“We’d like to unreservedly apologise to ticket holders and all those that have or are due to travel to Emirates Old Trafford.
“A full refund will be issued, but we appreciate for many supporters, attending this Test match is more than just the monetary worth.
“After the last 18 months we’ve all experienced through the pandemic, it’s a fixture cricket fans in the North West have looked forward to for the best part of 18 months.
“You can’t underestimate the work that goes into preparing for a five-day Test match and I’d like to thank all our supporters, guests, suppliers, partners and all those involved for their continued support.
“I’d also like to thank all of the amazing staff who have worked tirelessly to prepare the ground for the Test.
“We have an incredibly loyal and talented group of people who have worked very long hours in the run-up to this game.
“We are working closely with the England and Wales Cricket Board on next steps and the finer detail that will follow as a consequence of this cancellation.
“The club will contact ticket and hospitality holders.”
Despite offers to reschedule the fifth Test, it will be complicated due to the Indian Premier League, which will resume on September 19, 2021.