An enthralling Test series between England and India ended in an anticlimax with the fifth and final Test at Old Trafford, Manchester being called off due to a COVID-19 outbreak in the visitors’ camp. There were reports that the Indian players were unwilling to play the final Test with some rumours suggesting the upcoming resumption of the 2021 Indian Premier League (IPL) season might have been a factor in the match being called off.

However, former Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) chief Sourav Ganguly has refuted those rumours, saying that the players were skeptical of playing due to fears of contracting COVID.

“No, no, the BCCI will never be an irresponsible board. We value other boards too,” Ganguly said when asked if the IPL played any part in the cancelled Test in an interview with The Telegraph.

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He also said that the Indian players were “dead scared” of contracting COVID once physio Yogesh Parmar tested positive.

“The players refused to play but 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 test,” the former India. Captain said.

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“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.”

The fifth Test was cancelled hours before toss was scheduled to take place on Friday, September 10. In a statement, ECB said “India are regrettably unable to field a team”.

There is no confirmation yet about whether the match will played at a later date, or if India will be declared series winners or if England will salvage a draw because their opponents forfeited the match.