Home > Sports > The ash 2021-22-England could put ash holders under-strength as the ECB resists postponement

The ash 2021-22-England could put ash holders under-strength as the ECB resists postponement

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The prospect of a boycott remains on the cards while players await clarity on quarantine and bubble life

The prospect of England putting up a significant force in the ashes seems to have grown after talks between the team and officials at the ECB.

ESPNcricinfo understands that some members of the squad and some members of the team management were overwhelmed by the ECB’s refusal to even see a partial or even complete postponement of the trip. As a result, they are considering their options. One of these options is understood to be the entire team – including coaching and support staff – making a collective decision to boycott the trip.

Although players generally appear reasonably vocal about the prospect of a two-week quarantine for themselves, they are reluctant to put their families through it. And with some players away in the best part of four months (IPL followed by the T20 World Cup and the ashes), they are understandably reluctant to not see their families throughout the period.

The nature of quarantine is also understood to have disappointed the players. Although there has been talk of allowing them to use a resort on the Gold Coast, it is now implied that they will probably only be allowed to have two or three hours out of their hotel rooms each day for training. There is also a possibility that the squad will be required to remain in a sort of ‘bubble’ throughout the trip to avoid difficulties in moving between states. Families, meanwhile, may still be required to undergo a ‘tough’ quarantine involving 14 days in a hotel room.

Given the current quarantine requirements in Australia, the team – in a Q and A with Tom Harrison in recent days – had asked the ECB to raise the possibility of a postponement of the series with their colleagues in CA. One suggested option is thought to have been a suggestion that the tour be split in two, with two or three tests played throughout the Christmas period in 2021-22, and two or three more played in a similar period next year. Another proposed option was to move the entire series 12 months back in the hope that families and followers from the UK could participate.

However, it is understood that the ECB was reluctant to consider such options. Although they reiterated the offer that players – and support staff – could opt out without consequences, they insist that the trip should continue this year. This reaction is understood to have disappointed some players who feel that their concerns are not appreciated by the authorities.

As a result, it is still possible that the entire team – including management, coaches and support staff – could make a collective decision not to tour to highlight their discomfort at the situation. However, it is increasingly likely that more players – especially those who are not all-format players – will eventually choose to leave. Either way, it seems inevitable that England will be forced to field a significantly understaffed squad. It may even include naming a new captain for the series, with a senior player like Stuart Broad a possible option.

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