English cricket bosses to make a call on Ashes this week, two months before scheduled start

Just over two months out from the scheduled start of the first men’s Ashes Test, English cricket bosses will this week meet to decide whether they are comfortable sending players to Australia if it means long stretches in quarantine.

Strict quarantine requirements for international arrivals and potential isolation between states has caused concern for English cricketers who want some freedoms when they tour.

Many players, including England captain Joe Root, have expressed concerns about the impact that more time in isolation could have on their mental health, especially if their families are not allowed to join them.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said it spoke to the men’s players and management over the weekend about all the proposed arrangements for the tour.

“We remain in regular and positive dialogue with Cricket Australia over these arrangements as the picture is constantly evolving,” the ECB said in a statement.

“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.

“We will continue talking to our players this week to share the latest information and seek feedback.

The English men’s team has been one of the most active in the world throughout the pandemic, hosting the West Indies, Ireland, Australia, Pakistan, New Zealand and Sri Lanka, and touring South Africa, Sri Lanka and India since July last year.

Many English players have also participated in limited-overs tournaments around the world.

Meanwhile, Australia has not played a men’s Test since the home series against India last summer, with no other men’s teams coming to Australia since restrictions started in March 2020.

They have also only travelled to England, the West Indies, New Zealand and Bangladesh for limited-overs series since then, with most of the top names pulling out of the Bangladesh tour in August this year.

Nasser Hussain calls out Tim Paine for lacking empathy towards English team

A group of cricketers have a laugh during a training session.
Australia has been far from the most active cricketing nation in the world since the start of the pandemic.(

AP/PA: Bradley Collyer


Last week, Test captain Tim Paine was roundly criticised in the UK for saying with certainty the Ashes would go ahead.

“The Ashes are going ahead. The first Test is on December 8th — whether [England captain Joe Root] is here or not. They all want to come, there’s no doubt about that,” Paine said on SEN on Friday.

“It’ll be worked out above us and then they’ll have a choice whether to get on that plane or not.

“No-one is forcing any England player to come. That’s the beauty of the world we live in — you have a choice. If you don’t want to come, don’t come.

He used less absolute language later on Twitter, saying he “[understood] all of the difficulties involved” and hoped for “the best conditions possible for the Eng players and families”, but the damage was done.

Former England captain Nasser Hussain was the latest to take aim at Paine for an apparent lack of empathy in a column in the Daily Mail, pointing out the English team has played 18 Tests since last March, while Australia only had the one home series.

“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,” Hussain wrote.

Ben Stokes has already walked away from cricket indefinitely due to his own mental ill health, while Moeen Ali retired and cited not wanting to go into strict quarantine in Australia as one of his reasons. 

“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.

“It’s a delicate balancing act for Root and Ashley Giles, the director of cricket.

“They need to be considerate about the players’ mental health as they prepare to enter yet another bubble on one of the toughest tours of all. But they also know their only chance of winning in Australia is if everyone is on board.

“That’s why I don’t like these easy judgments from the other side of the world. If the last 18 months have taught us anything, surely it’s the importance of empathy.”


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