Former England captain sounds off on Australia’s border restrictions ahead of the Ashes

Former England Test cricket captain Michael Vaughan has doubled down on his stark warnings about this summer’s Ashes series, claiming multiple visiting stars could decide to skip parts or even all of the tour Down Under unless the state and federal governments act soon.

Ahead of Friday’s National Cabinet meeting, Vaughan urged Australia’s politicians to announce they would grant the vaccinated families and partners of English cricketers exemptions from arrival caps and allow them to travel with the team around the nation.

He said the packed cricket schedule meant multiple English players are facing the prospect of being away from their families for several months, unless exemptions are granted.

“If Australia continue to lock the borders and make it very, very difficult there will come a stage where a sports team decides not to come,” Vaughan, who is now a high-profile commentator, said during an interview with the ABC.

“I’m not saying that will be the England cricket team but … as we speak, I would be amazed if England have a full-strength team for the Ashes.”

The English team is due to arrive in Australia in November, ahead of the first Test in Brisbane, in December.

But some multi-format cricketers with young children, like Ben Stokes or Jos Buttler, are likely to first play in the T20 World Cup in the UAE before flying directly to Australia.

England’s Ben Stokes is a player who Vaughan believes could withdraw from part of the Australian tour.(

Reuters: Lee Smith


Before that, the side also has brief warm-up tours of Pakistan and Bangladesh, which come off the back of a busy northern summer, where players have been in secure bubbles.

Cricket Australia is in talks with the state and federal governments about providing exemptions for the Ashes.

It was successful in getting exemptions last summer for the families of Indian players and is hopeful major Australian cities will no longer be in lockdown by the time The Ashes begins.

Exemptions will be politically tricky

A close shot of Morrison speaking, with an Australian flag visible in the background.
Scott Morrison is facing criticism for his handling of border restrictions and the vaccine rollout.(

ABC News: Ian Cutmore


Granting travel exemptions for the families of famous foreign cricketers in the current environment would likely lead to some criticism, just months out from a federal election.

Many Australian citizens remain stranded overseas, cut off from their families and have been since the pandemic began, due to the government’s strict border policies and quarantine arrangements.

The nation is also currently grappling with COVID-19 outbreaks and the Prime Minister is under pressure due to delays with the vaccination program.

“We’re in a different era,” Vaughan said, when asked why players could not travel without their families for long periods like they did in the past.

“That’s back in the day, 20, 30 years ago.”

He added that England probably would not be competitive in Australia unless it brought a full-strength side.

“I don’t think you can cancel the Ashes.

“Your teams aren’t travelling anywhere else, look at your Australian cricketers, seven decided not to go the Caribbean.

“Australia and New Zealand have pulled out of the Rugby League World Cup in the UK.”

The Ashes is due to begin on December 8 and run until mid-January.

In the recent past, English players have been joined by their families for parts of the tour, often over Christmas and New Years.

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