Sourav Ganguly says India’s players were “dead scared” of contracting Covid-19 after physio Yogesh Parmar tested positive; fifth Test at Emirates Old Trafford was cancelled on the morning it was due to begin; Ganguly says any rescheduled Test between sides must be standalone fixture
Last Updated: 13/09/21 9:41am
BCCI president Sourav Ganguly says India’s players should not be blamed for refusing to play the fifth Test against England, insisting that their physio’s positive Covid-19 diagnosis left them “dead scared” they would contract the virus themselves.
The game at Emirates Old Trafford was cancelled on Friday morning, hours before it was due to begin, with a number of members of India’s backroom staff having tested positive for coronavirus, including physios Nitin Patel and Yogesh Parmar.
India – who led the five-match series 2-1 after winning the fourth Test at The Kia Oval by 157 runs last Monday – were unable to field a side in Manchester.
Ganguly told Indian newspaper The Telegraph: “The players refused to play but you can’t blame them. Physio Yogesh Parmar was such a close contact of the players.
“Being the only one available, after Nitin Patel isolated himself, he mixed freely with the players and even performed their Covid-19 tests. He gave them a massage, he was part of their everyday lives.
“The players were devastated when they came to know he had tested positive. They feared they must have contracted the disease and were dead scared. It’s not easy staying in a bubble.
“Of course, you have to respect their feelings.”
India’s players are now set to feature in the rescheduled Indian Premier League, which resumes in the United Arab Emirates this weekend having been postponed earlier in the year due to the high number of positive Covid cases in India.
ECB chief-executive Tom Harrison has denied that the Old Trafford Test was cancelled so that the IPL was not put in jeopardy, saying on Friday: “Let me be super clear, I don’t think the IPL has anything to do with this
“This is not a situation which has been created by the rescheduled IPL, I fundamentally do not believe that for a second. This Indian cricket team are as passionate about Test cricket as fans in our country are.”
Harrison also said talks were ongoing with the BCCI about rescheduling the cancelled Test.
Ganguly is adamant, that should a suitable date be found, that the game acts as a standalone match and is not part of this summer’s series.
He added: “Let things settle down a bit, then we can discuss and decide. Whenever it’s held next year, it should be a one-off match since it cannot be a continuation of the series.”
Watch the IPL live on Sky Sports Cricket between September 19 and October 15.