Test captain Tim Paine has revealed Prime Minister Scott Morrison reached out to him for a player’s perspective as the federal government worked with Cricket Australia to ensure the Ashes went ahead.
Confirmation that England will send a close to full-strength squad for the five-Test series is imminent after captain Joe Root agreed to quarantine conditions laid out by CA boss Nick Hockley to him earlier this week.
Those conditions had been thrashed out in a series of talks between CA and government officials with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson also raising the issue of the tour with Morrison last month.
Paine revealed he shared “a few messages” with the Prime Minister as those talks went on to give a “player’s perspective” on the issues at play.
“I’ve had a little bit of contact with him, but I have over my period. He always touches base,” Paine told his SEN program on Friday morning.
“He was keen to find out what the sticking points might be from a player’s perspective. I shared a few text messages with, I suppose, the boss. He loves his cricket.”
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Paine said everything he was hearing out of England was “really positive” about the calibre of players who would come for the Ashes amid talk some, like keeper Jos Buttler, were still wavering about making the trip without their families.
“Most, if not all, things that were asked for have been delivered,” Paine said of the quarantine and biosecurity measures set to be used for both England and Australian players.
“Cricket Australia want the conditions to be good. The boards and the governments were working together to get everyone the best conditions.
“I’m hearing a lot of their players will commit. We will see a really strong England side.”
A statement from the ECB this week said the Ashes picture was “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,” it said.
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.”
Paine also rebuffed some stinging criticism from a raft of former England players and commentators after his comments last week that the Ashes would go ahead “whether Joe (Root) comes or not”.
“I thought I played it with a straight bat, gave some facts,” he said.
“But it comes with the territory playing against England. They go at you.”
The opening Ashes Test is scheduled for December 8 in Brisbane.