My whole focus right now is getting myself physically ready for what I’ve put down to be the most unusual of Ashes tours.
Clearly there is a lot going on at board level to negotiate acceptable arrangements for the England team and my message to our bosses at the ECB is simple: give us the best possible chance to be mentally strong in January with the environment being created.
Let’s try to make ourselves as comfortable as possible, because if you go somewhere to Australia and need bunkering, you won’t like being in one of the best places on earth – and won’t be winning at cricket either.
England bowler Stuart Broad has admitted he would love to fly to Australia for the Ashes
It’s now only a few weeks before a roster is selected, but players won’t be able to sign up for anything until they know what they’re signing up for.
If you ask me if I’d like to get on a plane to Australia in November, I’d say yes. I work tirelessly to get there. I don’t feel like there’s going to be a delay. In my mind it is 100 percent clear that an English team will start the tour with a certain description.
But if another player called me and told me they couldn’t commit, I would totally accept it.
Everyone has to make their own decision and Ashley Giles, the England cricket director, has made it clear that a player’s chances of being selected in the future will not be hurt if they opt out in these circumstances.
But the Mail on Sunday columnist has stated that players need answers before they commit
The ECB has tried to keep us as informed as possible with the information they receive from Cricket Australia. It’s just that minimal details have been available. I don’t think anyone can say hand-on-heart that we won’t be living in a bubble out there and that will be a huge challenge.
In my career I’ve played three or four test matches with the flu or a bad cold, and you can get through it, but with Covid you shut out completely.
Catch it on the second test of five, and you’ll most likely miss the rest of the series, given the length of isolation period it takes and the time it takes to build up competitive fitness.
I have lived in a way designed to minimize the chances of me contracting Covid, but there has to be a sensible balance. For example, I wouldn’t go to an Ed Sheeran concert at the MCG, of course, but it shouldn’t stop me from playing a round of golf.
England cricket director Ashley Giles said players’ futures will not be affected if they opt out
We have lived in bubbles where we were not allowed to go outside our rooms. In India last winter we couldn’t even go to the hotel reception for a cup of coffee. But I would hope Australia would be less restrictive.
Remember, the weather is fantastic there, so if you can eat out at a restaurant, and you could eat outside, you probably would every night of the trip.
With the situation Australia is in – with their own citizens struggling to get into the country – I don’t think we can just fly in without quarantine, like we’re living a normal life, because the world is not a normal life. place at the moment.
But what will our quarantine look like? You can’t expect a top sports team to sit in hotel rooms for 14 days and then expect players to play at high intensity again.
Broad (right) has revealed he has resigned for not seeing his fiancée Mollie (left) on tour
If you went back to training right away, there would be a very high risk of injury. It would be a nightmare scenario for someone like me going through calf rehab.
We have to be in a situation where we are allowed to train between two and three hours a day. An international bowler rarely goes two weeks in a year without bowling.
This is the biggest series you can play and England have only won twice from home in 50 years. It’s give and take, because we don’t just go on holiday. We fly in to compete in top sport.
It’s the kind of tour you want your parents and partners to come along. It’s abnormal to go away for such a long period of time, to play the kind of games that some people play once in a lifetime, and not be able to share them or Christmas and New Years with your family.
The 35-year-old said he understood India was panicking about Covid-19 being so close to their flights
Personally, because my fiancé Mollie works, I’ve already resigned myself to the fact that she can’t be with me at any time – because by the time she’s completed two weeks of quarantine, she should be back on the radio.
But I’m in a lucky position because Mollie is extremely understanding of my job, we don’t have kids and I’m 35 so these opportunities won’t come along too often.
That’s why I’m determined to go. It’s a very different scenario if you’re not at the start of the Indian Premier League this weekend or if you have kids.
We’ve seen pressure to be away from home for a long period of time, most recently, with India returning zero positive Covid tests within their group but still feeling anxious enough not to play a test match. I get it.
I’m certainly not going to preach that what they did was wrong, because I remember how I felt before the last test match in Ahmedabad, after being locked up in hotel rooms for 10 weeks.
We hadn’t seen any other people, were kept away from our families, had slow wifi and couldn’t even stream Netflix.
By the end we were exhausted and the thought of possibly contracting the virus during those last few days of the tour – and having to spend another 14 days locked up – left me feeling pretty unstable.
I know Michael Vaughan was quite vocal and said India’s decision was all about the IPL wealth – and I’m not saying it didn’t matter – but I can understand why they panicked so close to their flight.