Shastri, outfield coach R Sridhar, bowling coach Bharath Arun and physio Nitin Patel were found to be infected during the oval test and when junior physio Yogesh Parmar tested positive ahead of the fifth test in Manchester, the match was controversially called off with India leading the series. 2-1.
It was reported that people were not wearing masks at the event.
“I have absolutely no regrets because the people I met at that reception were fabulous. And it was good for the boys to go out and meet different people rather than constantly being in their rooms,” said said Shastri in an interview with ‘The Guardian’. .
“During the Oval Test, you were climbing stairs used by 5,000 people. So finger pointing at a book launch?” He asked.
“…but I wasn’t worried because the incubation probably takes weeks. There were about 250 people there and no one got COVID from that party.”
Speaking about his isolation, Shastri said: “It was funny because in my 10 days I had no symptoms other than a little sore throat. I never had a temperature and my oxygen level was 99% all the time.
“I didn’t take any medicine for the 10 days of my isolation, not a single paracetamol. I tell the guys, ‘Once you get double-bitten, it’s a fucking 10-day flu. That’s it ‘.”
The book launch drew even more attention after the fifth test was canceled, with the outcome of the series yet to be determined.
When asked if he had become the scapegoat following the abandoned test, Shastri replied that the truth was otherwise.
“I didn’t get it at my book launch because it was the 31st (August) and I tested positive on the 3rd September. It can’t happen in three days. I think I got it had in Leeds. England opened on July 19 and suddenly the hotels were back, the lifts were back. No restrictions.”
Shastri said he was not involved in the decision not to play the Manchester Test while self-isolating in London. He also did not discuss the matter with the players.
“No. I didn’t know who had it. I didn’t know (the junior physio) had it suddenly and tested positive. He physically treated five or six players. I think that’s where the problem kicked in. We knew the incubation period meant someone might get it in the middle (of the test).
“A lot of players had their families there. So it became a situation where you don’t know what that player is thinking. He has a young child, you know, he has to think about them. It was a bit, I would say, susceptible.
Shastri is also confident that BCCI and ECB will settle the outcome of the series out of court.
“The ECB has been outstanding and their relationship with Indian cricket is great. People talk about money, but I can guarantee the ECB will earn all of that with interest.
“I don’t know if it’s a standalone test next year or if they give them two more T20 games, but the ECB won’t lose a penny because of the relationship that exists. In 2008 when we had the (terrorist) explosion in Mumbai, England came back and played the Test. We don’t forget that.”
Bilateral T20s should be reduced, watch the football:
Shastri is also of the belief that the bilateral T20 series should be curtailed to ease the relentless international schedule.
“I would like to see less and less bilateral T20 cricket. Look at football. You have the Premier League, the Spanish league, the Italian league, the German league. They all come together (for the Champions League). There has few bilateral football (friendly matches) now.
“National teams only play for the World Cup or World Cup qualifiers (and other major tournaments like the European Championships, Copa America and Africa Cup of Nations).”
He said skipper Virat Kohli and other Indian players also shared his view on the matter.
“They all believe the same thing. There’s enough franchise cricket. It works. But what’s the use of bilateral? In my seven years with this Indian team, I don’t remember a single ball game If you win a World Cup final you will remember it and that is the only thing I have left as a coach.
“I don’t remember a single match (white ball). Test matches? I remember every ball. Everything. But the volume is too big. We beat Australia 3-0 in the T20 series. We We beat New Zealand 5-0 in New Zealand. Who cares? But beating Australia in two Test series in Australia? Winning Tests in England? I remember that.”
Cricket councils like to hold cue ball matches as it generates more revenue, but Shastri believes the right balance can be maintained.
“Money is important because it can be invested in grassroots football. The best players always want to play test match cricket but, with the exception of England and Australia, very few countries win money from it.
“In India it’s starting to pick up because of the way India are playing. We’re aiming for victory because Test cricket is the ultimate,” Shastri added.