England legend Ian Botham has hit out at any England players wavering over whether they will go on the Ashes tour of Australia this year, insisting he would “already have my bags packed”.
A number of the England players hold concern over Australia’s strict quarantine measures for overseas travellers which would affect their families coming out during the tour, with the England and Wales Cricket Board issuing a statement that a decision would be made this week.
“We remain in regular and positive dialogue with Cricket Australia over these arrangements as the picture is constantly evolving. With health and wellbeing at the forefront, our focus is to ensure the tour can go ahead with conditions for players and management to perform at their best,” an ECB statement read.
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“We will continue talking to our players this week to share the latest information and seek feedback.
“Later this week the ECB Board will meet to decide whether the conditions in place are sufficient for the Tour to go ahead and enable the selection of a squad befitting a series of this significance.”
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Australia has offered for England players’ loved ones to use a resort on a winery in the Yarra Valley in Victoria as a base to quarantine in ahead of the Boxing Day and New Year’s Tests.
The players are still believed to be concerned, but Botham, who has been appointed government trade envoy to Australia recently, revealed he was sick of such talk.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph in the UK, Botham said: “It’s the ultimate test and – I don’t know – I start to wonder maybe if some of these guys don’t fancy the ultimate test. You have to start to worry about it.
“Playing for England is the ultimate. To play Test cricket for England is the ultimate and to play against Australia in Australia – and win – is magnificent.
“Do you think we should perhaps stop talking in the negative? Because I get a bit fed up. I’ve had two years of negativity. ‘40 million people are going to die of this pandemic’. No. Wrong.
“I just wish that we could actually put a positive spin on something and my positive spin is: let’s get out there, let’s play what we do best, and let’s see if we can beat the best in their own back yard. Because Australia don’t lose very often in their own back yard.
“I suggest it’s a challenge. And, if I was in their boots, I’d already have my bags packed.”