England vs India Fifth Test cancelled: Why final Test was called off and what’s been said

The final Test at Old Trafford will not be played after it was initially announced India would ‘forfeit’ the match

A view of a message displayed at Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester afterthe fifth Test between India and England was cancelled over Covid concerns, the England and Wales Cricket Board has announced. Picture date: Friday September 10, 2021.

The fifth LV= Insurance Test between England and India has been cancelled after concerns over Covid-19 left the tourists unable to field a team at Emirates Old Trafford.

The series decider was due to get under way in Manchester at 11am but little more than two hours before the scheduled start a statement from the England and Wales Cricket Board confirmed the game would not be taking place.

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The statement said India will “forfeit the match” although that line was removed in an updated version.

What was the Fifth Test cancelled?

Concerns over the viability of the fixture first appeared on the eve of the match, when India cancelled their final training session and failed to complete their mandatory press conference. It later emerged that the squad was confined to its hotel after a new positive case was returned by one of their backroom team.

The threat appeared to recede when a fresh round of PCR testing came back negative on Wednesday evening, but after intense negotiations between the ECB and the Board of Control for Cricket in India the game was cancelled.

It is understood that a number of Indian players harboured concerns over the spread of the virus and were unwilling to take the field, meaning the tourists could not put up an XI.

What did the ECB statement say?

The wording of the ECB statement was changed after just a few minutes, indicating that discussions remain ongoing.

The revised statement read: “Following ongoing conversations with the BCCI, the ECB can confirm that the fifth 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.”

What else has been said?

Former England batsman Mark Butcher, now a TV pundit, told Sky Sports: “It’s tremendously disappointing for cricket fans as it’s been an incredible series and everybody wanted to see how this was going to pan out.

“There are also other factors to think of and I’m sure people will be talking about the fact the IPL restarts in the UAE on the 19th and any postponement would push that back beyond the start of the competition.

“I’ve got a little bit of sympathy in terms of the Indian players, most of whom have been on the road before the Australian series over Christmas and New Year. They did go home to play England but they were in strict bubbles then.

“I can imagine some of those players locked up in their rooms at the moment have had an absolute gutful and want to get out. But that does not dim any of the disappointment for fans and the amount of money involved in putting these Test matches on. It’s a real shame.”