England fifth Test against India at Emirates Old Trafford was cancelled after some of the tourists’ backroom staff tested positive for Covid-19.
India 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 that India, who led the series 2-1, had forfeited the final Test and the series was drawn 2-2. The statement has since been amended to say: “India are regrettably unable to field a team.”
The final result is unclear.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) says it has made an offer to the ECB to reschedule the match.
“In lieu of the strong relationship between BCCI and ECB, the BCCI has offered to ECB a rescheduling of the cancelled Test match,” said a BCCI statement. “Both the Boards will work towards finding a window to reschedule this Test match.
“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.”
Head coach Ravi Shastri tested positive during India’s 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.
“We are working closely with the England and Wales Cricket Board on next steps and the finer detail that will follow as a consequence of this cancellation. The club will contact ticket and hospitality holders.”
Although England rescheduled all of 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
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.