India players were ‘dead scared’ they had Covid so refused to play £40m fifth Test against England, claims BCCI chief Sourav Ganguly – who insists their shock withdrawal had nothing to do with fears of missing out on IPL riches
- India stars are said to have been ‘devastated’ prior to the fifth Test cancellation
- Cricket board boss Sourav Ganguly has insisted they should not be taking blame
- Ganguly has claimed that physio Yogesh Parmar was ‘mixing freely’ among stars
- He says Parmar’s Covid test, rather than the start of the IPL, scuppered the Test
India’s cricket chief Sourav Ganguly said their players refused to play the fifth and final Test against England due to Covid-19 concerns and denied that the upcoming Indian Premier League had played any part in the decision.
The Old Trafford Test was cancelled last Friday barely two hours before its scheduled start as the tourists, who were leading the series 2-1, failed to field a side after their physiotherapist tested positive for Covid-19.
‘The players refused to play but you can’t blame them,’ BCCI president Ganguly told Indian newspaper The Telegraph on Monday.
India’s fifth Test against England was abruptly axed on Friday following a positive Covid result
Sourav Ganguly, the boss of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, has addressed the fiasco
‘Physio Yogesh Parmar was such a close contact of the players… 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.’
Ganguly says his board will ‘never be irresponsible’ and were not swayed by the start of the IPL
The cancellation is thought to have risked a potential shortfall of £40million in English cricket’s already stretched budget, although BCCI have offered to play two extra T20 internationals in England next summer to ease that damage.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan has suggested that India’s players were ‘petrified’ of testing positive ahead of the IPL, which resumes on September 19 in the United Arab Emirates.
Had they tested positive, India’s players would have been forced into isolation rather than taking their scheduled flight to Dubai on Wednesday.
But England and Wales Cricket Board CEO Tom Harrison has said the cancellation had nothing to do with the IPL, and Ganguly echoed those comments.
‘The BCCI will never be an irresponsible board. We value other boards too,’ said Ganguly, adding that the match is likely to be held as a one-off match next year.