Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has declared there will be no special treatment for the families or partners of England’s Ashes team this winter.
The Ashes is due to start on December 8, and there are fears it may not go ahead at all with the current pandemic still raging around the world. Recently, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tried to intervene, with The Independent reporting that he sent a plea to Morrison to ease the travel ban. That plea appears to have fallen on deaf ears,
“I would love to see the Ashes go ahead, as I shared with Boris last night,” Morrison replied. “But there’s no special deals there, because what we’re looking to have is vaccinated people being able to travel.”
“I don’t see a great deal of difference in skilled workers or students who will be able to come to Australia when you reach those vaccination rates. Those who are coming for that purpose when it comes to their profession, which is playing cricket, I don’t see the difference between that and someone who’s coming as a skilled, qualified engineer or someone who’s coming to be ready for study.”
Despite Morrison refusing to budge, Cricket Australia are supremely confident the five tests will go ahead as planned this winter. It comes against a backdrop of wide travel by England; they’ve played 12 tests away from home since October 2019, including tours of India and Sri Lanka this summer. Australia have not played a single test away in that time.
The Ashes is an eagerly awaited cricket event, always contested by Australia and England. It has been in existence for 139 years, as confirmed by Bwin’s look at ‘The Ashes History’, and England are looking to reclaim the trophy after Australia’s historic win in 2019. If the tournament does go ahead, England will be hoping to draw the series level, with their current standings being 32 wins compared to Australia’s 33. However, all of that history may not matter if this debate cannot be resolved.
The crux of the matter is the timing of the competition; England’s players will be away over the festive period, and that was why Boris Johnson got involved. “I raised the Ashes [with Morrison], and he said they were going to do their best for the families,” Johnson has previously said. “He totally got the point that for cricketers, it is very tough to ask people to be away from their families over Christmas.”
The emphasis is now on Cricket Australia to confirm what conditions will be placed on players, coaches, and families. Once the ECB have that information, a final decision can be made on the Ashes. With England due to travel to the T20 World Cup in the UAE, they’re hoping to be able to then head straight to Australia for the winter showcase event. The fear is that even if the Ashes are given the green light, some players may opt to withdraw from the tournament if their loved ones cannot travel.
Whilst some may withdraw, Stuart Broad and Dan Lawrence have both committed to travel, with Lawrence adding it was ‘above his paygrade’ to find out what was going on, but that if selected, he would have no issue heading to Australia. The ECB will hope the rest of the squad feels the same if a resolution is not found.
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