Cricket-Fifth England v India test called off after COVID-19 case


Cricket - England Nets - Emirates Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain- September 9, 2021 England's Joe Root and head coach Chris Silverwood during nets Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff

MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) -The fifth test between England and India at Old Trafford was cancelled barely two hours before its scheduled start on Friday after the tourists failed to field a side following a COVID-19 case in their camp.

India were 2-1 up in the series heading into the final test but the match was thrown into doubt on Thursday after their physiotherapist Yogesh Parmar tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

"Due to fears of a further increase in the number of COVID cases inside the camp, India are regrettably unable to field a team," the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said in a statement.

The ECB initially said in the statement that India had forfeited the match but later retracted that.

The Indian board said the well-being of the players was of "paramount importance" and that the match would be rescheduled at a later date without elaborating when that could be.

"Both the Boards will work towards finding a window to reschedule this test match," the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said in a statement.

"The BCCI would like to thank the ECB for their co-operation and understanding in these trying times.

"We would like to apologise to the fans for not being able to complete an enthralling series."

With the Indian Premier League (IPL) beginning on Sept. 19 in Dubai, there was no real prospect of the Manchester test being pushed back on this tour.

India will return to England in July to play three Twenty20 matches and an equal number of one-day internationals.

It was a tame end to a thrilling series lit up by the sublime batting of England captain Joe Root, who smashed three centuries in the opening three matches, and India's excellent seam bowling, spearheaded by Jasprit Bumrah.

"This is such a shame - as it's been a wonderful series!" tweeted Australia spin great Shane Warne.

India head coach Ravi Shastri had tested positive during the fourth test at The Oval and has since been isolating with bowling coach Bharat Arun, fielding coach R Sridhar and physio Nitin Patel.

England's tour of South Africa was abandoned in December after a number of positive coronavirus results were reported.

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by Peter Rutherford and Toby Davis)

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