England players to hold talks over Ashes

Joe Root’s England lost 4-0 on their most recent Ashes tour in 2017-18

England men’s players will meet with the England and Wales Cricket Board as some consider pulling out of this winter’s Ashes if their families are not allowed to travel to Australia.

Talks between players, the ECB and the Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA) are due this week.

Australia has some of the strictest Covid-19 protocols in the world.

Players who take part in the T20 World Cup and the Ashes face the prospect of being away from home for four months.

The first Ashes Test in Brisbane begins on 8 December, but players who also take part in the T20 World Cup – starting in October – are due to leave the UK in mid-September.

They would then potentially not return home until after the final Test in Perth ends on 18 January.

An update to the ECB from Cricket Australia and the Australian government is due in early August.

The situation is complicated by parts of Australia being in lockdown, while the five Ashes Tests will be played in five different states, which have their own regulations.

England are due to train in Loughborough on Wednesday, before the squad for the first Test against India at Trent Bridge, which starts on 4 August, assembles at the weekend.

There is thought to be concern among the players, a number of whom have young families. One has indicated to BBC Sport that he would be reluctant to take a full part in the Ashes series if his family are not allowed to travel.

Historically, families have joined England players on Ashes tours, which span Christmas and New Year.

The Ashes is due to take place without travelling England fans and limited representation from overseas media.

If England are not at full strength, the credibility of the oldest Test series in cricket would come into question.

One solution could be for the series to be delayed by a year, with England instead touring Pakistan, where are they due to visit in late 2022.

That would tie in with a T20 World Cup due to be held in Australia in the autumn of 2022, but would require Australia to reschedule Tests against other opponents.

England are due to leave for Bangladesh, where they will begin their preparations for the T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates and Oman, on about 19 September.

Those taking part in the Ashes will head to Australia after the World Cup, which ends on 14 November.

They will join a group of red-ball specialists who will leave the UK in early November.

All members of the England party will be required to quarantine for 14 days when they enter Australia, regardless of where they arrive from.

Australia players who take part in the T20 World Cup will be in the same situation.

England are set to warm up for the Ashes with a series of intra-squad matches also involving England Lions.

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