Australia Test skipper Tim Paine has said the upcoming Test series between Australia and England - the Ashes will go ahead even if few England players are not keen on playing the series. Several senior England players, including skipper Joe Root and vice-captain Jos Buttler have expressed their concerns over playing the series in strict COVID-19 protocols. Root had said that he can’t make a call on Ashes participation unless there is clarity on the COVID-19 restrictions that will be in place in during the series.
Many players of late have cited bio-bubble fatigue as a reason to skip several big cricketing events. Ben Stokes has taken an indefinite break from cricket due to the same, while this could well be the reason behind Moeen Ali’s sudden retirement from Test cricket. However, Paine is confident the series will go ahead even if senior England players are not part of it.
“The Ashes are going ahead. The first Test is on 8 December – whether Joe is here or not,” said Paine. Speaking to radio station SEN Hobart, he added: “It’ll be worked out above us and then they’ll have a choice whether to get on that plane or not. “No-one is forcing any England player to come. That’s the beauty of the world we live in – you have a choice. If you don’t want to come, don’t come.”
Former England cricketer Kevin Pietersen recently asked England to boycott the Ashes if the series in played under strict bubble rules. “There is NO WAY I would go to The Ashes this winter. ZERO chance!” he tweeted. “Unless the ridiculous quarantine rules were squashed and my family could travel with zero restrictions,” Pietersen had said.
However, Paine paid no heed to Pietersen’s comments and said it’s his individual opinion as none of the England players have spoken about the same. He added that Pietersen wants to stay in the limelight which is why he makes such statements. He advised Pietersen to leave the decision on the players. “If you want to know anything on any topic in the world, you just ask Kevin Pietersen. He is an expert on everything,” added the captain.
“We have not heard one England player come out and say they will not be coming. I think it’s been beat up and people like Kevin like to get themselves a little bit of exposure in the media.”
Cricket Australia (CA) have sent a proposal to England Cricket Board (ECB) about the restrictions that will be in place. However, players want some more clarity before they take a call.