11.19am So, that's broadly speaking the end of today's dramas. There has been a resolution of the immediate situation, with India committing to reschedule the outstanding Test, probably next summer, but this is by no means the end of the fall-out from this saga.
Among the immediate concerns are those at a local level, with Daniel Gidney, Lancashire's CEO, stating on Sky that the club faces 'multi-million pound losses' due to the late cancellation. "We will need ECB help," he says, with all the hospitality overheads - staff wages, wasted food bills, loss of bar takings etc - all stacking up.
There's also some question about what the status of this rescheduled game will be. For all that England would like to have the chance to square the series at 2-2, the most pressing issue for the ECB is doubtless the bottom line - and the need to get it played to fulfil their broadcasting requirements. Tom Harrison on Sky raised the possibility that it could yet be treated as a "one-off" Test.
"I think [it's] a standalone situation," Harrison tells Sky. "We've also been offered other options. Being a few hours into this, we probably need to take a look.
"The glass-half-full version of this is the prospect of us playing a one-off Test match against India as a focal point on this ground, to come back and give fans the thing they've missed out on this time, let's try and work on that and see if we can deliver it. It would be wonderful. It would be the only good news that comes out of a day like today."
More broadly, this scenario underlines once again the absurdity of cricket's global schedule. There is simply too much cricket. India have been in England since early June, and the build-up to the World Test Championship final. They are due to embark on the IPL in nine days' time, then the T20 World Cup, then a tour of New Zealand. And England, as we well know from their rest-and-rotation policy, are feeling the strain of constant touring as much as any side. Something has got to give, and the magnitude of this moment brings it all to a head.
11.12am Dinesh Karthik, India's former wicketkeeper and current pundit, who flew home ahead of this Test to prepare for the IPL, has expressed similar fatigue sentiments with Sky.
"I spoke to a few of the guys. The general feeling is, after the fourth Test, this is tiring. Almost all of the games have gone down to the wire, they're tired and they have only one physio right now. They had two but one went down, along with a couple of the coaches.
"So they had one physio and they'd done a lot of work with that man and now he tests positive. That is the problem. If it was somebody else, somebody helping with logistics, they wouldn't be this afraid. But when this person got it, that's when they got the jitters.
"You also have to understand as soon as this finishes they have the IPL, soon after that the World Cup, and soon after that the NZ series. You're talking about one-week turnarounds, how many bubbles can they do? They assembled in India on May 16, it's four months almost now."
How many bubbles can they do?@DineshKarthik says the latest positive Covid test in the India backroom staff has given the squad a few 'jitters' at the end of a long tour. #ENGvIND
11.04am Tom Harrison, the ECB chief executive, is on the BBC now, and has acknowledged it is a case of mental fatigue for India, rather than a Covid issue per se, and given that England's own players lobbied to leave their tour of South Africa last December in similar circumstances, he has expressed some sympathy.
"It's been a long night. It's just really sad," he says. "You can't be flippant about issues of mental health, and this is what this is about. India have been wonderful tourists, but they have been here for a long time.
"Playing at this level, week after week, is difficult. Even if we feel we are emerging from the pandemic, life is different for the players. When Covid creeps into an environment, it can accelerate very quickly.
"Hopefully we can get this Test on some other time, but it won't be the same as it having the conclusion after four brilliant matches.
"The BCCI, this India team and their captain want to make their mark in Test cricket. I don't think the IPL should worry people who feel there is an agenda is at place here.
"I was on the phone all night. Once those fears creep in they can be very hard to shift. There are no winners in this one.
"100% the BCCI wanted to get this game on. There is a strong relationship between the ECB and BCCI. We will definitely come through this, probably even stronger than we went in."
10.49am We are ten minutes out from the scheduled start of the Test, and we've already had more developments this morning than in many morning sessions. We still await the ECB's response to the BCCI's offer of a rescheduling, although Tom Harrison, the chief executive, is due to speak to the media shortly.
Here, incidentally, is England's schedule for 2022, as confirmed by the ECB earlier this week. Three Tests each against New Zealand and South Africa, sandwiching India's white-ball tour in July.
Not a lot of wriggle-room at first glance. The logical gap would be the first fortnight in August, prior to the South Africa Tests, by which stage the India squad would have been in England and acclimatised. Failing that, the second half of September might work ... details, details...
10.28amThe series is still live! The BCCI says that the two boards will look to reschedule the Test... remarkable scenes...
"In lieu of the strong relationship between BCCI and ECB, the BCCI has offered to ECB a rescheduling of the cancelled Test match. Both the Boards will work towards finding a window to reschedule this Test match."
Wow, that's a development. Quite how and when they will do this remains to be seen. Although India are due to return to the UK in 2022 for three T20Is and three ODIs, so there's some feasibility there. Apart from anything else, James Anderson will be 40 years by then... but Ben Stokes and maybe even Jofra Archer could be back for the decider...
"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.
"The BCCI would like to thank the ECB for their co-operation and understanding in these trying times. We would like to apologise to the fans for not being able to complete an enthralling series."
10.24am Lancashire have issued a statement, with Daniel Gidney, the chief executive, saying the club is "absolutely devastated about the late cancellation" of the Old Trafford Test.
"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. After the last 18 months we've all experienced through the pandemic, it's a fixture cricket fans in the North West have looked forward to for the best part of 18 months.
"You can't underestimate the work that goes into preparing for a five-day Test Match and I'd like to thank all our supporters, guests, suppliers, partners and all those involved for their continued support. I'd also like to thank all of the amazing staff who work at Emirates Old Trafford who have worked tirelessly to prepare the ground for the Test. We have an incredibly loyal and talented group of people who have worked very long hours in the run up to this game.
"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.
"The Club would like to once again express it's sincere apologies for all inconvenience and disruption caused to all involved."
10.10am A reminder that the IPL begins in the UAE in just nine days' time - which is a medium-sized elephant in the room as this situation reaches its final shake-down. Remember the stories earlier this summer, that the ECB had been requested to rejig the summer schedule to ensure a window for the prompt start of the tournament.
It remains to be seen if India will be seeking to fly out of the UK early, but if there are fears of Covid cases within their camp, that would be problematic, you'd imagine...
In the United Kingdom, any person who receives a positive PCR test for Covid-19 is obliged to self-isolate for 10 days. Anyone identified as a close contact was also required to self-isolate for 10 days, but an exemption came into law from August 16 for all those who are more than 14 days past their second vaccination, meaning those who are double-jabbed no longer have to self-isolate as close contacts.
Close contacts can be those who live in the same household as those who have tested positive for Covid-19, anyone who has had a face-to-face conversation within one metre, someone who has been within one metre for longer than a minute without face-to-face contact, or someone who has been within two metres for a period of 15 minutes or more. Or sharing a dressing-room during emotional matchwinning scenes at The Oval...
9.51am It's a little way down the immediate priorities for the two teams, but the question of "cancelled" versus "forfeited" could have significant implications for the 2021-23 World Test Championship, which came down to the wire for these two teams last time out as well. A Covid outbreak is considered an acceptable reason for non-compliance by the ICC, therefore the series could be simply reclassified as a four-match series, with India taking the rubber 2-1 and a recalculated percentage of the available points.
But if the ECB, as seems to be their current stance, decide that this is not acceptable non-compliance from India, the result will go to the ICC's Dispute Resolution Committee. As things stand, India will take 26 WTC points and England 14 out of the total available of 48 points.
9.47am Nagraj Gollapudi has updated our main news story on this drama, with remarkable details about the to-ing and fro-ing within the India team hotel in the past 24 hours. If ever there was any doubt this is a "live situation"...
"A sense of confusion had spread among the Indian camp in the last two days even as the BCCI was in discussions with ECB over whether to carry on with the series or cancel the final Test. While the discussion carried on through the middle of Thursday night, the Indian contingent remained unaware of the what decision the BCCI was going to take.
"However, it is understood the BCCI did ask the players to keep their bags ready to fly out to the UAE for the IPL well ahead of the scheduled departure date of September 15, when the bulk of the India and England players were to board charter flights to join their franchises.
"Then on Friday morning, a few hours before the official toss time, the Indian camp received a message on their team WhatsApp group. The first message said: "The match has been called off. It's impt that each one of you stay in your room." About 10 minutes later another message popped up on the group: "We are unable to arrange breakfast in your room so if you want you can go to the restaurant to have your meal."
9.35am The parallels between this scenario and the Oval 2006 Test continue apace, because the behind-the-scenes wrangling at board level are sure to continue for a while yet.
It is understood that the ECB are still pushing hard for this match to be considered a "forfeiture" - ie, India declining to play - because they fear that their insurance payments for the match may not apply if it is considered a bilateral "cancellation", especially given that India's squad returned a full round of negative tests on Thursday, so it is not - in their view - a straightforward Covid cancellation.
The matter is complicated by the suggestion that it was the players themselves who lobbied for the match to be called off, despite the BCCI initially supporting its go-ahead. Privately, there is also a feeling that it was the book launch last week, attended by the India squad and after which Ravi Shastri, the head coach, returned a positive test, that is considered "patient zero" for this outbreak.
9.23am The capacity of Emirates Old Trafford is approximately 21,500, so that's going to be a lot of disappointed supporters over the next five days. They will all be reimbursed as per the ECB's cancellations policy, but it's a big hole in Lancashire's finances all the same. And who knows where it sits with the ECB's broadcasting deal - that will be one of the major issues to be thrashed out between the two boards in the coming hours. Ironic, really, seeing as Old Trafford was one of the bio-secure venues that ensured the 2020 summer schedule went without a hitch.
9.12am So many questions about what happens next, but none of them look like being answered in a hurry. The ECB and BCCI are still resolving the immediate fall-out of a situation.
Sky Sports News are reporting that ICC match referee, Chris Broad, will determine the result of the series - 2-1 with a cancellation, or 2-2 if India are deemed to have forfeited the match. Shades of The Oval Test against Pakistan in 2006...
Following ongoing conversations with the BCCI, the ECB can confirm that the fifth LV= Insurance Test at Emirates Old Trafford, due to start today, will be cancelled.
8.58am The ECB has confirmed that the "forfeiture" line in their statement was amended after publication, adding that they are "working through details with BCCI right now, so bit of a live situation".
8.45am So that's it then. The Old Trafford Test has been cancelled without a ball being bowled.
A statement has just landed from the ECB: "Following ongoing conversations with the BCCI, the ECB can confirm that the fifth Test between England and India Men due to start today at Emirates Old Trafford, will be cancelled.
Due to fears of a further increase in the number of COVID cases inside the camp, India are regrettably unable to field a team.
We send our sincere apologies to fans and partners for this news, which we know will cause immense disappointment and inconvenience to many.
Further information will be shared in due course."
The initial wording of the statement from the ECB, as per their website, stated that India would be "forfeiting" the match, meaning the series would finish 2-2. That word is missing now, so we await clarification of what this means for the series.
8.07am Good morning and welcome to what should be the first morning of the fifth Test between England and India at Emirates Old Trafford. Unfortunately, we've just got word that there will be no play today.
ESPNcricinfo understands that a number of India players have expressed reservations about taking the field in the wake of India's assistant physiotherapist Yogesh Parmar testing positive for Covid-19. Although the entire squad returned negative RT-PCR tests on Thursday, they will now undergo a further round, with the hope that the match may be able to start over the weekend.