England’s final Test will NOT go ahead today at Old Trafford after India’s players
sensationally refused to play.
The game, due to be played in front of a capacity 21,000 crowd, may now be cancelled
with India’s players insisting on another round of PCR tests before they even consider
starting what might become a four-day match. Or in all probability will not take
The extraordinary development came after a fourth member of India’s backroom
staff, physiotherapist Yogesh Parmar, tested positive on Wednesday night and joined
coach Ravi Shastri and two other members of his staff in isolation.
That led to a day of uncertainty and confusion with India cancelling their training
session at Old Trafford and being consigned to their rooms at Manchester’s Radisson
Hotel before undergoing another round of PCR tests.
They all came back negative and it seemed as though the green light was given to the
deciding Test, with India holding a 2-1 lead in what has been a classic series.
But the key to all this is the resumption of the Indian Premier League in the UAE next
week, with India’s players desperate not to miss that at all costs. Hence their concern
that they might subsequently test positive and be forced into isolation rather than
their scheduled flight to Dubai next Wednesday.
India, though, only have itself to blame after flouting Covid guidelines and
attending a book launch in London unknown to the ECB, as revealed by Sportsmail,
two days before the fourth Test at the Oval.
Shastri and his bowling coach Bharat Arun and fielding coach R Sridhar tested
positive after that function and remain in isolation in London. Now the situation has
escalated and 21,000 people due to be at Old Trafford today in a Test that is worth
£30million in broadcasting and ticket sales is hanging by a thread. The ramifications
of this could be enormous.