England cricket fans have been left ‘shaking with anger’ at the last-minute decision to scrap the final Test against India amid Covid fears.
The chief of the Barmy Army said he felt ‘absolute rage’ when the tourists sensationally refused to play just hours before the toss.
Chris Millard blasted the move that came after supporters had already forked out hundreds of pounds for tickets, travel and accommodation.
England’s final Test against India was shelved at the last minute due to a growing Covid outbreak among India’s backroom staff.
A fourth member, physiotherapist Yogesh Parmar, tested positive on Wednesday night and joined coach Ravi Shastri and two other members of his staff in isolation.
The match had sold out for the first three days at Old Trafford in Manchester, with 21,000 expected each day.
England cricket fans have been left ‘shaking with anger’ at the last-minute decision to scrap the final Test against India amid Covid fears
All dressed up and nowhere to go: This chap said he’d spent ‘f*****g good money’ on a penguin costume to wear to the cricket
The chief of the Barmy Army said he felt ‘absolute rage’ when the tourists sensationally refused to play just hours before the toss. Pictured, fans today
Chris Millard blasted the move that came after supporters had already forked out hundreds of pounds for tickets, travel and accommodation. Pictured, fans drowning their sorrows outside the stadium today
England’s final Test against India was shelved at the last minute due to a growing Covid outbreak among India’s backroom staff
England’s Joe Root leaves Old Trafford cricket ground after the fifth cricket Test match between England and India was cancelled
Asked what his reaction to the news was, Mr Millard told talkSPORT: ‘Absolute rage, to be honest with you.
‘I was just arriving at Old Trafford when the news came through just after 8am, and I just started shaking with anger at the way this has played out.
‘Not only for the fans who were supposed to be here, but there are so many little businesses that are affected by a late decision like this and it causes a knock-on effect.
‘It’s going to be a difficult winter for businesses in sport and for a business like the Barmy Army, the absolute nightmare this has caused for merchandising, ticket holders, staff, it really couldn’t be much worse.’
He added: ‘With the IPL around the corner, there is no doubt this would be played if it wasn’t for the IPL.
‘It’s an absolute outrage for it to have such power. The Indian players being the ones who would have pulled out to protect their IPL contracts and commercial contracts.
‘Yes they are huge, we have to respect that, but lets be honest they had to fulfil this fixture. It’s shocking they are allowed to pull the plug.’
England fans has a drink on what was to be day one of the Fourth LV= Insurance Test Match between England and India at Emirates Old Trafford
Cricket fans James and Paul (right) outside Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester after India forfeited the fifth Test
India fans pictured inside the stadium after the cancellation of the Test Match during day one of the fifth Test
Performers dressed as cricketers walk on stilts as they leave Old Trafford cricket ground after fifth and final cricket test match between England and India was cancelled
England player Jos Buttler leaves the dressing room with his kit with the help of a member of staff
The Barmy Army released a full statement saying it was ‘truly gutted’ by the move and said ‘disappointed’ fans had turned up at the stadium expecting a game.
It read: ‘We are truly gutted about the outcome of the final Test match today at Old Trafford.
‘Frans who have spent hard-earned money travelling around the country to follow the team have been let down.
‘We are particularly frustrated at the lateness in the day of the announcement given the circumstances of the news which broke much earlier this week.
‘Fans have travelled to Manchester, booked hotels, taken time off work and incurred all additional expenses that comes with a day, or more, at the Test.
‘It is simply not acceptable. We witnessed first hand the disappointment of those fans already at the ground this morning and all of the local suppliers and small businesses who won’t be insured against this situation.
‘It’s these stakeholders who are truly affected and feel the pinch most by this very late decision.’
It added: ‘We will communicate with all ticket holders as soon as possible regarding refunds and next steps.’
India’s supporters group the Bharat Army tweeted the Barmy Army their sadness after the cancellation
The Barmy Army released a full statement saying it was ‘truly gutted’ by the move and said ‘disappointed’ fans had turned up at the stadium expecting a game
Haseeb Hameed and Moeen Ali of England leaves the ground during day one of the Fourth LV= Insurance Test match
Jack Leach of England leaves the ground during day one of the Fourth LV= Insurance Test Match
The announcement followed a day of uncertainty and confusion with India cancelling their training session at Old Trafford.
They had been 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 resumption of the Indian Premier League in the UAE next week is seen by some as key to the cancelling of the Test
India’s players are desperate not to miss it, hence their concern they might test positive and be forced into isolation rather than their scheduled flight to Dubai.
But they flouted 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 the function and remain in isolation in London.
The announcement followed a day of uncertainty and confusion with India cancelling their training session at Old Trafford. Pictured: Chris Woakes
England players Jos Buttler and Rory Burns (left) leave the dressing room with their kit earlier today
Indian fans pose at Old Trafford cricket where the fifth cricket Test match between England and India
Cricket boards at war: The ECB are LIVID with India’s for the tourists’ reckless disregard for Covid
There was confusion and anger in Manchester on Friday morning as the English and Indian cricket boards argued over the financial implications and the status of the cancelled fifth Test, with around £40million at stake.
The ECB are understood to be furious with what they regard as reckless behaviour from the Indian tourists, with further reports of biosecure breaches by players and back-room staff in Manchester.
As the BCCI offered to reschedule the Test – presumably next summer, when India return to the UK for three T20s and three one-day internationals in July – English officials were insisting that India had forfeited the game, and pushing for a 2-2 series result.
Crucially, the ECB are also arguing that the forfeiture is not related to Covid, since all the Indian players have returned negative PCR tests.
That point alone has huge ramifications for the question of insurance. If the Test is deemed to have been called off because of Covid, which is India’s contention, then no insurance is available. Insurance kicks in only if Covid is not ruled to be the reason for the cancellation.
A staggering 21,000 people had been due at Old Trafford today in a Test that is worth £30million in broadcasting and ticket sales.
It has left streams of England and India fans out of pockets over tickets, travel and hotel bills.
Friends Paul and James had driven from Elgin and Stirling in Scotland for the match and were ‘gutted’ it was off.
Paul said: ‘I am absolutely gutted, really annoyed. The tickets are actually pretty cheap but there’s so much more attached, it’s probably only 10 per cent of what we’ve actually paid out to be here.’
He added: ‘With four nights in hotel, travel and everything else it could be up to £1000, easily.
‘We started playing in Covid last year against the West Indies and Pakistan, no problems.
‘We’ve played four Tests (against India) and been fine all round. There’s definitely something suspicious about this.
‘Obviously there is talk about the IPL (Indian Premier League) and the importance of protecting the IPL for the finances and the money.’
He at least found some room room for humour, adding: ‘Maybe they just didn’t want to face Jimmy Anderson at his home ground. He would have bowled boomerangs and (India captain) Virat Kohli didn’t want to face him.’
James was particularly frustrated having already planned accordingly for the Manchester weather.
‘We booked tickets for two days this time because we wanted a guarantee of seeing the cricket. We usually only buy one and it always rains,’ he said.
‘I’m a football fan and my club, Rangers, recently had five players and the manager isolating for a Europa League game but we had to go ahead anyway. Why should this be different to any other elite sport? There so little consideration for the fans and the other businesses associated to it. It just feels like it should have gone ahead.’
Dave, a Lancashire member, was pondering the prospect of missing out on a memorable moment for Anderson.
‘We came here wondering if this might be Jimmy’s last ever Test match,’ he said.
‘It feels like a kick in the teeth for it to be called off so late. You wonder if it’s all about the IPL and it just looks like a change in emphasis for cricket, like it’s all about the money.’
There were some phlegmatic views on show too. India fan Jagidish, from Hyderabad but living in Middlesbrough, accepted the pandemic was still throwing up unexpected circumstances
A bhangra band poses following news of the cancellation of the fifth cricket Test match between England and India
A fan makes his way to the ground as play is cancelled during day one of the Fourth LV= Insurance Test
For Ivan from Cornwall, who had hospitality tickets, it was merely the latest disappointment in his bid to get back to live entertainment
A row over the result of the cancelled Test has already begun, with the ECB releasing a statement which claimed India had forfeited the match
There were some phlegmatic views on show too. India fan Jagidish, from Hyderabad but living in Middlesbrough, accepted the pandemic was still throwing up unexpected circumstances.
‘It’s disappointing but we understand. As a public we should know it is for everyone’s welfare and for ours too,’ he said.
‘We have been watching all the matches and had a plan to come here to Manchester, two-and-a-half-hours. The game has not happened, not this time, but maybe next time.’
For Ivan from Cornwall, who had hospitality tickets, it was merely the latest disappointment in his bid to get back to live entertainment.
‘This is the third sporting event I’ve come to in a row that has been cancelled,’ he said.
‘This was going to be a get together for a friend’s 50th but we have to put up with these things at the moment, I suppose. I heard it was going to rain all day anyway so we’ll all have to meet up and do what everything we’d planned to but without the cricket.’
The stands at Old Trafford will remain empty today despite all tickets being sold out
India recorded a fourth positive Covid test among their backroom staff late this week
A message on a big screen at Old Trafford confirms the decision to cancel the fifth Test
A row over the result of the cancelled Test has already begun, with the ECB releasing a statement which claimed India had forfeited the match.
But it was swiftly removed from the online article, leading to confusion over whether England would be awarded a victory or not.
A win for the hosts would level the series at 2-2, although the Board of Control for Cricket in India have offered to reschedule the match.
They said: ‘Both the Boards will work towards finding a window to reschedule this Test match.’
It has been suggested it could take place at some point in 2022 when India are scheduled to be in England for a white ball tour.
Vikrant Gupta, managing editor of Indian news channel Sports Tak, claimed the final Test could be played next year – and India have not yet be crowned winners.
He wrote: ‘Am told @ECB_cricket has been given the option of hosting the fifth Test next year. Hence technically India hasn’t yet won the series.’
The ECB’s statement said: ‘Following ongoing conversations with the BCCI, the ECB can confirm that the fifth LV= Insurance 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.’
Sportsmail understands fans who were due to watch the Test in corporate seating at Old Trafford will receive full refunds for all days.
Meanwhile those in attendance on Friday will be allowed to use the facilities until 2pm.