New Delhi: The Indian men’s cricket team led by Virat Kohli refused to take the field for the fifth and final Test against England due to Covid fears, but the players cannot be blamed for their decision, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Sourav Ganguly has said.
In an interview with Kolkata-based newspaper The Telegraph published Monday, Ganguly initially declined to comment on whether it was appropriate for India head coach Ravi Shastri’s book launch event to take place prior to the fourth Test, and then stated that “no permission was sought” from the BCCI for the event.
“The players were devastated when they came to know that physio (Yogesh Parmar) 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,” Ganguly elaborated.
Parmar, the junior physio attached to the team, had tested positive for Covid-19 on 9 September, the evening before the fifth Test was scheduled to begin at Old Trafford, Manchester.
‘Shastri never sought permission’
Parmar’s positive test came days after head coach Shastri, bowling coach Bharat Arun and fielding coach R. Sridhar all tested positive, leaving the Indian players without the services of most of their senior coaching staff.
Held on 31 August, the indoor launch event for Ravi Shastri’s new book ‘Star Gazing: The Players in My Life’ had come under the scanner as a potential superspreader, as the coach and team captain Kohli were both seen in close contact with members of the general public at the event, while not wearing masks.
According to Mid-Day, Shastri had defended his decision to attend his own book launch with Kohli, citing the lifting of Covid restrictions by Prime Minister Boris Johnson throughout the UK since July.
While saying that “no permission was sought”, Ganguly also backed Shastri’s decision, clarifying that the BCCI will not take any action against the head coach.
“How long can you stay confined to your hotel rooms? Can you stay locked at your home day in and day out? You can’t be restricted to a life where you go from the hotel to the ground and return to the hotel. This is humanly not possible,” Ganguly said.
(Edited by Arun Prashanth)