Picture: 123RF/RICHARD THOMAS
Picture: 123RF/RICHARD THOMAS

Former England captain Nasser Hussain has criticised Australia’s lack of empathy for England’s players as doubts continue over whether Joe Root and his team will travel for the 2021 Ashes series.

England are scheduled to play the first of five Tests against Tim Paine’s team at the Gabba in Brisbane from December 8, but doubts have been raised over whether Root and his players will travel due to Australia’s strict quarantining measures.

“England have played 18 Test matches since the start of the pandemic in March 2020,” Hussain wrote in his Daily Mail column. “That's five more than anyone else, and 14 more than Australia, whose four Tests all came at home against India last winter.

“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.

“It’s draining. Mental health has suffered. So for people in Australia to start lecturing them, and telling them they should simply suck it up, is a bit rich.”

Cricket Australia (CA) has been negotiating with authorities and England’s board over travel conditions and whether players’ families can visit during the Christmas and New Year period.

Australia has caps on international arrivals and there is a mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine even for the fully vaccinated.

Paine said last week the Ashes would go ahead regardless of some England players’ reluctance to travel.

“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,” wrote Hussain.

“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.” 

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) will decide this week whether the proposed arrangements in Australia are sufficient for the Ashes tour to go ahead, it said on Monday.

The ECB said it has been in talks with its players and management, while the board also remains in constant contact with CA.

“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,” the ECB said in a statement.

“Later this week the ECB board will meet to decide whether the conditions in place are sufficient for the tour to go ahead and enable the selection of a squad befitting a series of this significance.”

Reuters

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