The Manchester Test googly; cancelled, forfeited or postponed?

By Kersi Meher-Homji

The fifth Test between England and India at Old Trafford, Manchester, has been cancelled amid COVID virus outbreak in the Indian squad. The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has confirmed this news via a statement.

It was a fascinating series with India leading 2-1 and the fifth and final Test due to start yesterday the 10th September. Will India win this Test to take the series 3-1? Or will England win it to draw the series 2-all?

Neither happened!

If the Test is cancelled India could win the Test series 2-1. If it is considered as a forfeit, the series will be locked 2-all.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said it was offering to reschedule the match. “Both the Boards will work towards finding a window to reschedule this Test match,” the BCCI said.

India’s entire touring party was forced to isolate in its Manchester Hotel on Thursday and cancel its last pre-match practice after assistant physiotherapist Yogesh Parmar was the latest person to test positive for the virus. Ravi Shastri, India’s coach, had tested positive during the previous Test at The Oval, along with bowling coach Bharat Arun, fielding coach R Sridhar and physiotherapist Nitin Patel.

“The BCCI has always maintained that the safety and wellbeing of the players is of paramount importance and there will be no comprise on that aspect.”

“The BCCI would like to thank the ECB for their cooperation and understanding in these trying times.”

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.

“In lieu (sic) of the strong relationship between BCCI and ECB, the BCCI has offered to ECB a rescheduling of the cancelled Test match.”

“We have to just take a breath and ask the ICC (International Cricket Council) to formally adjudicate on the result of this,” Tom Harrison, the ECB chief executive, said.  “The BCCI have offered to reschedule the match, which is good news. But whether that is part of this series, a fresh one-match series or the first match of another series, I don’t know yet.”

“These are the things that we need to take some time over. I know that fans will be anxious to know. Players are, too. But we do need to take some time in these situations.”

The spectators were very much disappointed that the Test they looked forward to was cancelled. Although the money for the match ticket will be refunded to them they have lost their transport and hotel costs. Also the ECB would lose millions of pounds because of this cancellation.

Cynics have pointed out that the same Indian players will be playing IPL matches in Abu Dubai soon.

If 11th September 2001 is remembered for the American Airlines Flight 11 slamming into the North Tower of the World Trade Centre, 10th September 2021 may be remembered for COVID smashing a vital cricket match.

Bees saal baad, indeed!

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