England’s fifth Test against India at Emirates Old Trafford was cancelled after some of the tourists’ backroom staff tested positive for Covid-19.
India said they were unable to field a team because they fear further cases spreading through the squad.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said: “We send our sincere apologies to fans and partners.
“We know it will cause immense disappointment and inconvenience to many.”
The ECB statement initially said India, who lead the series 2-1, forfeited the final Test and the series was drawn 2-2. The statement was later amended to say: “India are regrettably unable to field a team.”
The result of the series is unclear.
“The result is not one for today,” ECB chief executive Tom Harrison told BBC Test Match Special. “Thoughts will turn to that soon.
“It’s a decision for the International Cricket Council, in the context of the World Test Championship.
“It’s about making the right decision, given what has taken place, and about being fair to each side. That process will take place over the coming weeks. It is not something that concerns us unduly.”
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) says it has made an offer to the ECB to reschedule the match.
“Both the boards will work towards finding a window to reschedule this Test match,” read a BCCI statement.
“The BCCI and ECB held several rounds of discussion to find a way to play the Test match. However, the outbreak of Covid-19 in the Indian team contingent forced the decision of calling off the Old Trafford Test match.
“The BCCI has always maintained that the safety and well-being of the players is of paramount importance and there will be no comprise on that aspect.”
India are due to travel to England to play three Twenty20 and three one-day internationals in July next year, presenting one opportunity for a Test to be played.
“Hopefully we can get it on at some other time,” said Harrison. “Clearly it’s not going to be the same as having a fifth Test after four brilliant matches.”
England v India – results, scorecards & reports
India head coach Ravi Shastri tested positive during their fourth-Test win, forcing bowling coach Bharat Arun, fielding coach Ramakrishnan Sridhar and physiotherapist Nitin Pate to isolate.
Another member of the backroom staff tested positive on Thursday.
India cancelled Thursday’s training session, but a subsequent round of testing showed no positive results among players and it was declared that the Test would go ahead as planned.
However, the announcement to cancel the match was made just over two hours before it was due to begin at 11:00 BST on Friday.
Old Trafford was a sell-out for the first three days, with 22,000 tickets sold for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Another 13,000 had been sold for Monday’s fourth day.
Lancashire chief executive Daniel Gidney said: “As a club, we are absolutely devastated about the late cancellation.
“We’d like to unreservedly apologise to ticket holders and all those that have or are due to travel to Emirates Old Trafford. A full refund will be issued, but we appreciate for many supporters, attending this Test match is more than just the monetary worth.”
Although England rescheduled all their home fixtures in 2020, this is the first home men’s international to be cancelled since the beginning of the pandemic.
England postponed three one-day internationals in South Africa in December because of coronavirus fears.
Any attempt to reschedule the fifth Test during the current tour would have been complicated by the Indian Premier League, which will resume on 19 September.
The tournament, originally played in India, was postponed in May and begins again in the United Arab Emirates.
‘The IPL would have a lot to do with this’ – analysis
BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew
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This is quite bizarre because last night the players all passed their PCR tests. We went to bed thinking the match would go ahead.
I suspect the IPL would have a lot to do with this. It starts in 10 days’ time. The players are on huge contacts. The IPL is worth £300m to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
They are desperate to protect their product and the players protect their contracts. This stands to cost the ECB £20m, one assumes there would be some negotiations about that with the BCCI.
It is a shame Covid has interfered with a brilliant series.