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England’s returning vice-captain Jos Buttler said his team had their “fingers crossed” that Friday’s final Test against India goes ahead after the tourists called off training and media commitments amid reports that a fourth member of their backroom staff had tested positive for Covid-19.
India have had Covid in their camp since the weekend, when head coach Ravi Shastri tested positive along with two other members of the backroom staff.
Members of the India party, including Shastri, had incensed the ECB by attending a book launch in London without permission from the home board.
The BCCI said the whole squad were tested on the final morning of the Test, which India won. On Tuesday, all those Tests came back negative, according to the BCCI.
On Thursday India cancelled their training session – which was always likely to be light – and media commitments on the eve of the game, with a fourth member of the backroom staff (a physio) said to have tested positive.
The players are reported to be in isolation in their rooms awaiting results of another round of tests (those results are due on Thursday evening). If results came back positive, the game would be in major doubt. Both ECB and BCCI were nervously awaiting those results.
A cancellation would have significant financial implications for the ECB, with days one to three of the 21,5000-capacity stadium are sold out, and the broadcast revenue is worth millions of pounds.
There is not even a Test match at Old Trafford next summer to roll ticketholders overs to (many of those with tickets for this game had initially bought them for a match last summer that was eventually held behind closed doors.
Buttler said England knew little about the situation.
“We don’t know too much about it at the moment,” he said. “It would be naïve to speculate on what’s going on. At the moment we’re fully expecting the game to go ahead and we’re preparing that way so fingers crossed the game will go ahead.
“All’s well in our camp. We trained well this morning and we’re looking forward to the game tomorrow.”
A complicating factor is the resumption of the Indian Premier League in the UAE in 10 days’ time, which the BCCI would desperately want to protect. To do that they need to leave England as scheduled next week with a clean bill of health.