The fifth Test match between England and India, which was due to start at Old Trafford today, has been cancelled due fears of an outbreak of Covid cases in the Indian team.
In a statement the English Cricket Board confirmed that the match, the final game of the series, had been called off.
“Due to fears of a further increase in the number of COVID cases inside the camp, India are regrettably unable to field a team”, it said.
“We send our sincere apologies to fans and partners for this news, which we know will cause immense disappointment and inconvenience to many.”
It added that further detail would be shared “in due course”.
The two sides were going into the final match of a pulsating series with India leading 2-1 after an emphatic comeback win at the Oval on Monday.
Having trailed after the first innings, a century from opener Rohit Sharma set the stage for India’s bowlers, with seamer Jasprit Bumrah to the fore as England were blown away on the final day.
The decision to call off the match comes after a member of India’s coaching staff tested positive for Covid-19 yesterday.
As a result, India cancelled yesterday’s training session, but despite a round of negative PCR tests the ECB and their counterparts the BCCI agreed to cancel the final match.
It is not the first time this tour that the Indian team has been plagued by the disease. In the last match head coach Ravi Shastri tested positive, forcing bowling coach Bharat Arun, fielding coach Ramakrishnan Sridhar and physiotherapist Nitin Pate to isolate.
ECB chief executive Tom Harrison told Test Match Special that the decision to cancel was not related to a sudden outbreak of cases, but what could happen after the Indian physio tested positive.
He added that the tourists were not in the right mental place to play the game as a result.
“Hopefully we can get this Test on some other time, but it won’t be the same as it having the conclusion after four brilliant matches”, he said.
“The BCCI, this India team and their captain want to make their mark in Test cricket. I don’t think the IPL should worry people who feel there is an agenda is at place here.
“I was on the phone all night. Once those fears creep in they can be very hard to shift. There are no winners in this one.
“100% the BCCI wanted to get this game on. There is a strong relationship between the ECB and BCCI. We will definitely come through this, probably even stronger than we went in.”