The upcoming Ashes series in Australia has been the point of conversation in the cricket fraternity for a while now. England players have made their reservations known about the strict Covid-19 protocols Down Under and both the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and Cricket Australia (CA) have been holding discussions to ensure the tour goes on smoothly. England are due to play five Test matches in Australia, with the series starting in Brisbane on December 8. Several former England cricketers have spoken in favour of Joe Root and his men and have demanded for relaxation of quarantine rules, which would allow families of the touring players to accompany them.
The England and Wales Cricket Board said on Monday it was in “regular and positive dialogue” with Cricket Australia.
“With health and wellbeing at the forefront, our focus is to ensure the tour can go ahead with conditions for players and management to perform at their best,” an ECB statement said.
“Later this week the ECB board will meet to decide whether the conditions in place are sufficient for the tour to go ahead and enable the selection of a squad befitting a series of this significance,” it added.
Multi-format England players potentially face months of travelling and living in bio-secure bubbles. The T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates and Oman starts on October 17 before the Ashes series in December and January.
Former England captain Nasser Hussain has weighed in on the ongoing debate and has lauded the English players for continuously being part of bio-bubbles and playing international cricket all over the world. Hussain, in his column for Daily Mail, wrote that the Australians, who have just played 4 Test matches throughout this period and that too at home, should not be lecturing the English players about their concerns.
“Right now, it feels as if England’s Test players are getting a lot of flak, particularly from Australia, about their attitude to quarantining at the Ashes. And that doesn’t sit comfortably with me. England have played 18 Test matches since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. That’s five more than anyone else – and 14 more than Australia, whose four Tests all came at home against India last winter,” Hussain wrote.
“I’m quite proud of the way in which England’s Test team have kept the show on the road in difficult circumstances, moving in and out of bubbles and spending time away from their families. It’s draining. Mental health has suffered. So, for people in Australia to start lecturing them, and telling them they should simply suck it up, is a bit rich,” the former England captain added.
Hussain was particularly upset with Australian Test captain Tim Paine’s stance on the issue.
Speaking recently about the Ashes series in his regular weekly segment on SEN sports radio, Paine was quite curt in his opinion. “Well, the Ashes are going ahead — the first Test is on December 8 whether Joe’s here or not,” Paine had said.
Hussain in his column wrote that Paine lacked empathy towards fellow professionals.
“When Tim Paine, Australia’s Test captain, spoke recently I didn’t hear much empathy from a fellow professional. Now others have jumped on the Ashes bandwagon, as if England are somehow trying to dodge an important series. I get all the arguments. Yes, England’s Test players are paid handsomely. Yes, representing your country, particularly in an away Ashes, is the highest honour there is for a professional cricketer. Yes, some of the players have chosen to add to their own burden by taking part in overseas T20 tournaments such as the IPL.
“I understand all that. But unless you’ve spent time in a bubble – and some of these guys have done it repeatedly – you don’t get to lecture other people on how they should behave,” Hussain wrote.
Nasser Hussain represented England in 96 Tests and 88 ODIs. He captained England in 45 Test matches, winning 17 and losing 15 of those.
(With AFP inputs)
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