MANCHESTER, England — The fifth and final test of the cricket series between England and India was canceled on Friday barely two hours before play was due to start in Manchester, following a coronavirus outbreak in the India camp.
India was “regrettably unable to field a team,” the England and Wales Cricket Board said, due to fears of more cases inside the group.
India’s entire touring party was forced to isolate in its Manchester hotel on Thursday after assistant physiotherapist Yogesh Parmar was the latest person to test positive for the virus. India coach Ravi Shastri, bowling coach Bharath Arun, fielding coach Ramakrishnan Sridhar and main physio Nitin Patel had already tested positive.
India was leading the series 2-1.
The ECB statement initially said India had forfeited the test and the series was drawn 2-2. That was quickly amended and the final result was unclear.
“We send our sincere apologies to fans and partners for this news, which we know will cause immense disappointment and inconvenience to many,” the ECB said.
The lucrative Indian Premier League — featuring players from both teams — is resuming on Sept. 19 in the United Arab Emirates, complicating any chances of the fifth test being rescheduled.
“It’s tremendously disappointing for cricket fans as it’s been an incredible series and everybody wanted to see how this was going to pan out," said former England batsman Mark Butcher, who was working with British broadcaster Sky Sports.
“There are also other factors to think of, and I’m sure people will be talking about the fact the IPL restarts in the UAE on the 19th and any postponement would push that back beyond the start of the competition."
The postponement will prove costly for the ECB, which gets much of its revenue from men's test matches, and English county Lancashire, which misses out on a test match and is not staging one next year when New Zealand and South Africa visit.
India was looking to follow up a test series win in Australia in the winter with a first series victory in England in 14 years, and fourth in its history.
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Steve Douglas, The Associated Press