ECB admits the Ashes could remain in DOUBT this winter as they continue to review tour terms

ECB President Ian Watmore has admitted that England’s participation in the Ashes could remain in doubt until the plane carrying Joe Root’s side departs for Brisbane on November 6.

In his first public comments since the ECB infuriated Pakistan by withdrawing from two Twenty20 matches scheduled for next month in Rawalpindi, Watmore apologized for last week’s late withdrawal.

He insisted that England commit to a full tour consisting of three tests and five one-day internationals next winter.

ECB President Ian Watmore admitted Britain’s entry into the Ashes may remain questionable

Watmore admitted plans are uncertain until the plane carrying Joe Root's she leaves this year

Watmore admitted plans are uncertain until the plane carrying Joe Root’s she leaves this year

Watmore’s focus has now shifted to ensure this winter’s Ashes series continues with a full team from England – with the ECB reviewing the tour terms and quarantine provisions they received from Cricket Australia last Friday.

While those circumstances are considered less onerous than the ECB feared and should allow the players’ families to travel, the situation in Australia is constantly changing.

The threat of rapid lockdowns remains. This was illustrated when Tasmania withdrew from a Sheffield Shield match in Queensland half an hour before the game started for fear of being stuck on the mainland after just four new cases of Covid-19 were reported in the state.

England’s players fear they will find themselves in a similar situation, with the ECB expected to seek guarantees that tourists will be exempt from travel restrictions imposed by Australian or state governments. There are no such commitments yet.

England will travel to Brisbane in two separate batches - with testing specialists departing earlier

England will travel to Brisbane in two separate batches – with testing specialists departing earlier

While it was hoped that a final decision would be made this week on the tour and composition of the England squad, that prospect is now gone.

To complicate matters further, England will travel in two separate parties. Root and test specialists such as James Anderson and Stuart Broad will fly out on Nov. 4.

But multi-format players, including Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow and Chris Woakes, may not arrive until 10 days later as Eoin Morgan’s cue ball reaches the final stages of the T20 World Cup in the UAE.

The first test will start on December 7 at the Gabba in Brisbane, although the schedule is subject to change.

“There is no simple date for the decision to be made, except when that plane goes to Australia,” Watmore said Sports post.

The first test between England and Australia is set to start at the Gabba on December 7

The first test between England and Australia is set to start at the Gabba on December 7

“Joe and the players not involved in the World Cup are leaving in the first week of November, so we have until then to change things. We try to build a picture, confident or not, of the circumstances.

“There are problems to be solved with Cricket Australia, there are problems for CA to solve with their government and for the federal government to solve with state governments. It’s a complicated picture.

“CA knows what we need to make the tour successful and they are working to deliver it. We need to see the details, see it with the players and management and either push back or commit.

“It is not a red line discussion, but we are working hard to provide an environment where our players and their families want to go and perform at their best.

Watmore wouldn't rule out sending a weakened team to Australia if senior stars hold back

Watmore wouldn’t rule out sending a weakened team to Australia if senior stars hold back

“If Australia can deliver on that, fine, if not, then maybe we should have more challenging discussions.”

Watmore wouldn’t rule out sending a weakened team to Australia if senior players are reluctant to make the trip, but insisted the vast majority want to travel despite their concerns.

“Every player I’ve talked to, if you dangle an Ashes for them, that’s the most important thing to them,” he said. “They want to prove themselves on that podium. We need to focus on getting terms with Australia that will allow us to move our best team forward.”

Watmore also drew to a close the controversy surrounding the canceled trip to Pakistan by apologizing for the first time and confirming that England’s players had not been consulted before the board made their decision, as reported by Sports post last week.

“I am very sorry to anyone who feels hurt or disappointed by our decision, especially in Pakistan,” he said. “The decision the board made was extremely difficult and the board took it with the main consideration being the well-being and mental health of our players and staff.

It has been confirmed that England's players have not been consulted on Pakistan's withdrawal

It has been confirmed that England’s players have not been consulted on Pakistan’s withdrawal

‘The board made the decision based on its own estimates and did not enter into consultations.

“If we had decided to go ahead with the tour, we should have made proposals to the players, but we didn’t succeed.

“We have recommitted ourselves to a real tour, a planned tour, through Pakistan next year and will continue planning for that. We have more time to plan that trip.

“I don’t know if you can read President Biden’s mind, but I didn’t know he was going to evacuate Afghanistan or New Zealand was going to pull out of their tour while they were effectively warming up on the field.”

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