Australia captain Tim Paine emphatically responded to reports that several key England players could pull out of the Ashes due to Covid restrictions Down Under.
Australian captain Tim Paine has insisted the Ashes will go ahead regardless of some England stars’ doubts surrounding quarantine restrictions.
Paine’s comments come after Joe Root and a number of other English players have raised concerns about the tour Down Under this winter, with many suffering from ‘bubble fatigue’.
Many players are reluctant to travel as their families will not be able to go with them due to Australia’s strict restrictions, and Jos Buttler is hoping for clarity over the situation soon after he reiterated he would not travel if his family were unable to join him.
Paine is not particularly worried about whether English players want to come or not, and offered them the chance to simply opt out of the Ashes series.
“The Ashes are going ahead,” the Australian captain insisted on radio station SEN Hobart. “The first Test is on December 8 – whether Joe is here or not.
“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.”
The two bodies are discussing travel conditions, while Cricket Australia are also in contact with authorities to find out whether players’ families can come.
Australia currently has a compulsory 14-day hotel quarantine even for fully vaccinated individuals, while the country also has a limit on the number of international arrivals.
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Former England batsmen Kevin Pietersen took to social media to let his feelings be known that no member of the visiting team should travel if they are to be placed under any restrictions.
“There is NO WAY I would go to The Ashes this winter. ZERO chance!” The 41-year-old tweeted. “Unless, the ridiculous quarantine rules were squashed and my family could travel with zero restrictions.”
Paine simply dismissed Pietersen and said the decision to go and play or not should be up to 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,” Paine added with more than a hint of sarcasm.
“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.”
It is unclear whether England vice-captain Buttler will participate in the Ashes series due to the restrictions. He is preparing to fly to the United Arab Emirates next week for the Twenty20 World Cup.
Despite being an established and respected figure within the English team, Buttler wants to spend more time with his family after the birth of his second daughter.
If his family cannot attend with him, Buttler will not partake in the Ashes.
“If I had to do a World Cup and an Ashes – four, five months without seeing my family – I wouldn’t be comfortable doing that,” the 31-year-old said. “We’re still waiting for more information, as soon as possible.
“Hopefully in the next few days, there’ll be more information. As soon as you get that it makes it easier to know what decision you’re making.
“The ECB and Cricket Australia will be working very hard together to make it as good as possible. It’s tough to make a decision when you don’t have all the answers. In Covid times, there is always going to be some sort of question that is difficult to answer.
“It could be changeable, it would be naive not to say so in the times we’re living in, but you want to go there with as many assurances as possible.”
The first Test in the 2021 Ashes series begins on December 8 while the second Test will begin on December 16.