England and Australia in Ashes hold their ground as Joe Root’s side demands more Covid guarantees hosts refuse to give… as ECB says nothing will be done against visitors if they opt out
- England players were briefed on Sunday about the terms and conditions for the 11-week Ashes tour
- A video conference call took place with the hierarchy of the ECB and Cricket Australia
- An English Lions squad will also be selected if the ECB commits to a five-game series
- Last week, England captain Root himself stopped recording series
England’s players demanded more clarity on their proposed Ashes tour terms on Monday, as ECB Cricket Australia warned it is not guaranteed that the Premier series of Test cricket will continue this winter.
Sports post understands that Cricket Australia’s video presentation of the tour plans on Sunday night has left players unanswered about the exact nature of the ‘softer’ quarantines their families could receive and concerned about what would happen in the event of a lockdown.
As evidenced by India’s belated withdrawal from the fifth Test against England at Old Trafford last month, players are increasingly concerned about being trapped abroad in the event of a Covid outbreak.
The ECB will decide later this week whether they can meet their Ashes obligations this winter
Players and the ECB hierarchy, including Tom Harrison, were involved in a video call on Monday
It was hoped that the weekend address with the players would be the chance for an imminent decision on individual availability.
However, the ECB set out in a statement that the current situation threatened to derail the 11-week trip, with no travel waiver granted to return home if Australia closed its state and national borders – due to reopening next month – a bottleneck.
“We remain in a regular and positive dialogue with Cricket Australia on these arrangements as the picture is constantly evolving,” it said.
“With health and wellness at the forefront, our focus is to ensure the tour can continue with conditions for players and management to perform at their best.
Cricket Australia informed them of the conditions they and their families would have to meet during the 11-week tour
“We will continue to talk to our players this week to share the latest information and ask for feedback.
“Later this week, the ECB Governing Council will meet to decide whether the existing conditions are sufficient to allow the tour to go ahead and allow the selection of a selection that fits a range of this significance.”
It seemed a clear message to their rival governing body to push the Australian government harder to secure the right of international passage.
ECB chiefs Ashley Giles (left) and Tom Harrison (right) say nothing will be held against players
It’s something Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s regime, apparently concerned about granting special dispensation to the England cricket team at a time when thousands of its own citizens are trapped abroad, don’t want to entertain.
The timing of these personal decisions also causes fear in the English group.
England cricket director Ashley Giles, who addressed them on Sunday along with ECB CEO Tom Harrison, has repeatedly made it clear that nothing will be done against those who choose not to tour.
However, it has not escaped the attention of the player group that the central contracts, which were to be announced last week, have yet to be finalized.
A roster of approximately 30 players will be selected if the ECB indicates the tour will go ahead
The players remain concerned that despite the promises, such a decision could change the terms and conditions offered. It would arguably change a player’s decision if they knew how they would be rewarded financially.
The situation is not helped by the fact that those who in the past had expected full contracts have not received them – an example of this is Moeen Ali two years ago.
It has been made clear that families arriving in late November with players involved in multiple formats of the game will have a less restrictive quarantine as they will travel from the ICC’s Twenty20 World Cup bubble in the UAE – but the players have asked for more specific details about what that means.
England had hoped to pick a tour group – of up to 30, including a Lions group – by the end of this week for the final twist in the story.
Stuart Broad has already categorically stated that he will travel to Australia if selected
But Jos Buttler (front) and Root (back) have stopped to fully commit to the tour