England players poised for mass Ashes withdrawals

For our free coronavirus pandemic coverage, learn more here.

England are preparing for mass withdrawals from the Ashes tour if players are told on Friday that they will be confined to hotels under strict bubble conditions, after their concerns shifted from family quarantine rules.

Most players are coming around to the fact their families will receive no special treatment or reduction in quarantine rules from the Australian government. They will be given priority for exemption visas and be allowed to travel, but hopes that they would then be given dispensation from strict 14-day hotel quarantine are fading.

The England and Wales Cricket Board is prepared for mass withdrawals from the summer Ashes tour.Credit:Getty

However, it is understood the biggest stumbling block now will be the bubble restrictions once the players emerge from quarantine, with Cricket Australia due to inform the England and Wales Cricket Board of the conditions that it will impose this winter.

If players are confined to hotels and not allowed to live a normal life in Australia then the ECB is preparing for mass pullouts.

But if players are free to visit restaurants, cafes and play golf, for example, and leave their hotels, then most will accept the fact they may be apart from their families for the tour if partners, especially those with young children, decide not to go through two weeks of hotel quarantine.

The fear among the players is that as Australia gradually reopens, COVID-19 cases will inevitably rise and Cricket Australia will worry about an outbreak among a squad, causing the last-minute cancellation of a Test.

Tim Paine and Australia’s campaign to retain the Ashes is due to begin on December 8.Credit:AP

Sources have indicated England players worry that if one of them tests positive, CA will implement a crackdown on freedoms and they will be stuck in their hotel rooms, only allowed out to train and play, as happened to India in Sydney when they toured last year.

Restrictions vary from state to state. In Queensland and South Australia, there are almost zero cases, so players will be given more freedoms in Brisbane and Adelaide, the venues for the first two Tests.

However, in Victoria and New South Wales they are likely to face stricter bubble restrictions for the second half of the series, on the Sydney and Melbourne leg. The fifth Test in Perth may well be switched to Sydney, because Western Australia has a hard border, and enforces two weeks’ quarantine on domestic travellers.

Cricket Australia was given a deadline of the end of this week to provide answers to questions about conditions for families and bubble restrictions. The ECB will meet with the players early next week and ask who is willing to go to Australia. The Ashes squad will then be selected.

Scott Morrison, the Australia prime minister, last night said there would be no special treatment for the families of the England players.

Boris Johnson discussed the issue with Morrison in Washington this week and asked for him to ease quarantine rules. However, Morrison stuck to his insistence that Australia will open up when 80 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated. Australia is expected to hit 80 per cent in early December. “I’d love to see the Ashes go ahead, as I shared with Boris,” Morrison said. “But there’s no special deals there.”

The first Test starts in Brisbane on December 8.

Telegraph, London

Sports news, results and expert commentary. Sign up for our Sport newsletter.

Most Viewed in Sport

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article