The controversy surrounding cancellation/postponement of the fifth Test between India and England got a fresh impetus on Monday (September 13) when former England captain David Gower said that India captain Virat Kohli shot off a mail to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in the night, a few hours before the match was about to start.
The match at Old Trafford was called off, two hours before the toss, much to the disappointment of fans and English Cricket Board officials.
Gower said Virat’s mail explained the mood in the team after physio Yogesh Parmar tested positive for COVID-19.
Gower told Cricket.com: “Wow! No one, least of all I, saw that coming. It leads us into unprecedented territories. I mean I know other matches have been abandoned sometimes a few balls bowled and various other circumstances, but to have the thing called off at the last moment… needs explaining a little bit better.”
The English cricketer expressed his disappointment at not being able to see any action. “I was up there on the first morning on my way to watch Day 1 to enjoy some cricket, talk to people about the game to talk about the hospitality. But by the time I got there, of course, the situation had rather changed,” he said.
BCCI president Sourav Ganguly expressed his helplessness when he said the players simply refused to play. “…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 also used to give them a massage, he was part of their everyday lives.… The players were devastated when they came to know that he had tested positive for Covid-19. 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,” Ganguly said in an interview to The Telegraph.
Gower said, “The worrying thing for me is this: If the IPL was so very closely linked to this, then that to me is very disappointing because I may sound old, crusty, but for all those people like me and dare I say, Virat the last time he was in England, he made a big point about how important Test match cricket is to him. So, for all of us who like Test cricket and value it as the best part of the game, to see a Test abandoned like this was tragic.”
Ganguly is expected to travel to the United Kingdom on September 22 where he will meet English Cricket Board (ECB) officials and discuss ways to reschedule the Manchester Test.
Yogesh Parmar was the fourth member of Team India’s support staff to test positive for COVID after chief coach Ravi Shastri, bowling coach Bharat Arun and fielding coach R Sridhar.