India cricket chief defends players' England Test boycott

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Sourav Ganguly
Sourav Ganguly
Punit PARANJPE / AFP

India cricket chief Sourav Ganguly has insisted his country's players must not be blamed for the cancelled Test against England ahead of flying to London this month to try to arrange a new match.

India were leading the series 2-1 before the final Test was called off just two hours before it was supposed to start, because of fears in the India camp over a coronavirus outbreak.

"The players refused to play but you can't blame them," the president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) told Kolkata daily The Telegraph.

"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, who said he will fly to London on 22 September, also acknowledged the financial hit suffered by the English board.

"They have incurred a lot of losses and it's not going to be easy on the England and Wales Cricket Board," he said.

"Let things settle down a bit, then we can discuss and decide. Whenever it's held next year, it should be a one-off match since it cannot be a continuation of the series anymore."

Reports say India have offered to stage the match next year when they visit England for one-day and Twenty20 games.

The Covid-19 crisis in the India camp erupted after head coach Ravi Shastri and other support staff contracted the virus and were isolated.

Concerns spread among the team because India captain Virat Kohli and other players had attended the launch of Shastri's new book ahead of the Oval Test.

But Ganguly said Shastri should not be singled out either.

"How long can you stay confined to your hotel rooms? Can you stay locked at your home day in and day out?" he said.

"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 also dismissed talk that the match had been cancelled to protect the Indian Premier League, which resumes in the United Arab Emirates on 19 September. The BCCI "will never be an irresponsible board," said Ganguly.

Several former players, including ex-England captain Michael Vaughan, linked the match cancellation to the short time between the Test and the IPL.

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