Earlier on Friday (10 September), the ECB confirmed that the fifth Test between India and England has been cancelled. India lead the series 2-1.
The BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) has reportedly expressed its displeasure towards India head coach Ravi Shastri and captain Virat Kohli as the duo, along with other members of the touring team, attended a crowded book launch event in London last week.
Shastri, who had tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week, shared the stage with Kohli at the event on Tuesday last week, and as per BCCI sources, no prior permission was sought by the Indian team for attending the event.
Indian captain Virat Kohli and his teammates were present at the function where outside guests were also allowed and most of them were unmasked owing to relaxation of rules across the United Kingdom.
Speaking to IANS, a BCCI official said that it all started with “one breach”. “One mistake can make things difficult for everybody. The coach and the captain went out for a book launch and here we are seeing Covid cases within the team. This is scary,” the official added.
TOI quoted a top BCCI official as saying that “the board will probe the matter” and that the coach and the captain will be asked to explain the circumstances after the fourth Test at Oval.”
Besides, reports from the British media indicated that no clearance was sought from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).
“Thankfully the nightmare scenario was avoided on Thursday night when it emerged all the players’ PCR tests had come back negative. But it is a narrow escape for the game and clearly India coaches and players were irresponsible to attend a book launch at a London hotel outside their bubble, as revealed by Sportsmail, two days before the fourth Test at the Oval,” the Daily Mail reported.
There were speculations over the fate of the fifth Test between India and England at Manchester on Friday after junior physio Yogesh Parmar had tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday. And while the Indian cricket team had tested negative for COVID-19, the ECB on Friday confirmed that the match has been cancelled.
No seriousness shown to Jay Shah's letter?
It is now an open secret that skipper Virat Kohli led the players in their demand for cancellation of the match and they were successful in having their way after several rounds of talks with BCCI brass as well as England Cricket Board Chief Executive Tom Harrison who tried to convince a "visibly scared Indian skipper".
Kohli, however, would just not relent.
"The BCCI wanted them to play but such were the anxiety levels among some notable senior players that both boards were concerned about their mental health. One can understand that they were scared of another 10-day isolation and bubble life," a BCCI official told PTI.
"But the point here is that why didn't they apply common sense when they agreed to attend Shastri's book launch where outsiders were allowed?" asked the official.
That event is now being seen as a super spreader affecting four support staff members apart from Shastri.
So the question that is now being asked in the BCCI corridors is whether secretary Jay Shah's letter asking the team to avoid crowds after Rishabh Pant tested positive during the break after the World Test Championship final, was at all taken seriously?
In that particular letter, Shah had asked the players not to attend crowded events like the Wimbledon and the European Cup football, where some of the members of the contingent were seen.
"Yes, there has been relaxation in the UK but they could have avoided this gathering of outsiders. These people attended social gatherings and then when there was a case, they got scared," the official said.
This brings into focus, the role of team's administrative manager Girish Dongre, whose job is to ensure that all paper work and necessary protocols are in place for events like these.
"There is very little chance that Shastri and Kohli will be penalised for this act of theirs with the T20 World Cup around the corner (in October). Also Shastri is leaving for good after that.
"Kohli is the captain. May be a rap on the knuckles at best. May be it's good time to ask Dongre that what's his domain of work as an administrative manager," the official said.
With inputs from PTI
Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.
A lot of Indian fans termed Kapil “lucky” for getting the opportunity to meet the iconic cricketer.
Mohammed Shami has been ruled out of the ODI series against Bangladesh with a shoulder injury, which has also made his participation in the two-match Test series doubtful.
Batting legend Gavaskar called for the core of the Indian team to play as many matches as possible in the build-up to the 2023 ODI World Cup at home.