‘Don’t tell me the Test was cancelled for any other reason but the IPL’: Michael Vaughan questions India pulling out of Old Trafford showdown with England as stars arrive in UAE on private chartered flights less than 24 hours later
- England’s fifth Test against India was cancelled on Friday due to Covid concerns
- Tom Harrison insisted Test was called off on mental-health grounds and not IPL
- But India’s Mumbai Indians stars were seen landing in the UAE for quarantine
- Michael Vaughan therefore believes the competition is behind cancellation
Michael Vaughan has questioned India’s motives for cancelling the final Test match against England at Old Trafford after their stars were seen arriving for the Indian Premier League just 24 hours later.
Friday’s last-minute cancellation of the fifth Test of the series – which Virat Kohli’s tourists were leading 2-1 – came as a result of Covid concerns in the Indian dressing-room after junior physio Yogesh Parmar became the fourth member of their backroom staff to test positive.
ECB chief executive Tom Harrison insisted the Test had been called off on mental-health grounds and that the IPL, which is due to restart this month after being interrupted earlier this year by the pandemic, had played no part in India’s thought process.
Michael Vaughan has questioned India pulling out of the Old Trafford Test after stars like Jasprit Bumrah (right) were seen arriving for the IPL on Saturday
But Mumbai Indians stars Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah and Suryakumar Yadav were among the India stars pictured on Saturday arriving in the UAE on private chartered flights to begin their quarantine ahead of the September 19 restart.
Reports in India have also suggested Royal Challengers Bangalore are preparing similar transport for Kohli and Mohammed Siraj from Manchester to Dubai, and that has led former England captain Vaughan to question the reasons behind the Test being cancelled.
‘IPL teams chartering planes .. 6 days quarantining required in the UAE .. 7 days till the tournament starts !!!! Don’t tell me the Test was cancelled for any other reason but the IPL…’ Vaughan tweeted.
The 2005 Ashes-winning captain’s comments come as reports emerge that England stars Chris Woakes, Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow have withdrawn from the IPL.
The fifth and final Test was called off due to Covid concerns within the visitors’ camp
All-rounders Moeen Ali and Sam Curran are still set to travel to participate for Chennai Super Kings, but the other trio have reportedly chosen to put England first ahead of a hectic winter schedule including a T20 World Cup and the Australia series Down Under.
Former India batsman Dinesh Karthik, who had been commentating on the series, however defended Kohli’s men on Sky Sports, claiming tiredness after a long stint in England – which began in May ahead of the World Test Championship final defeat by New Zealand – has taken its toll.
‘I spoke to a few of the guys. The general feeling is, after the fourth Test, they are tired. They only have one physio right now, they have done a lot of work with that man, and now he tests positive,’ he said.
‘You have to understand that soon after, they have the IPL, the World Cup soon after that, the New Zealand tour, one week turnarounds. How many bubbles can they do?’
Rishabh Pant was seen leaving India’s Manchester hotel and is expected to play in the IPL
Ishant Sharma was also spotted leaving their hotel after the Old Trafford Test was cancelled
The BCCI have offered to reschedule the Test match, though if that proves impossible the ECB will push for a forfeiture and a 2-2 series draw – a decision that will be ultimately be made by the ICC.
India return in July 2022 for six white-ball matches, but the only gap in England’s schedule – 16 days between the third Twenty20 and the first Test against South Africa in August – has been reserved for the Hundred.
And the failure to play the match this week has still left the ECB fighting to avoid potential losses of £40m.
As Sportsmail reported earlier this week, India head coach Ravi Shastri tested positive after attending a busy book launch at a London hotel, where around 150 unmasked guests attended and mixed freely among themselves.
ECB chief executive Tom Harrison insisted the Test had been called off on mental-health grounds and not the IPL
It is understood the touring party assured the ECB that the evening – to mark the publication of Shastri’s own book, Star Gazing: The Players in My Life – would consist of no more than a team dinner.
But there was anger in the England dressing-room and boardroom at the tourists’ lax approach to the virus after it emerged several Indian players had been spotted out and about in Manchester during the build-up to the Test.
And just 11 hours before the scheduled start in Manchester, a group of four senior Indian players, led by Kohli, insisted they did not want to proceed with the fifth Test as fears spread about their proximity to Parmar.
Jonny Bairstow (left) and Dawid Malan (right) have pulled out of the IPL to focus on England