England tour of Australia, Joe Root, Covid, quarantine, retirement hint

England captain Joe Root says he is “desperate” to play in the Ashes but cannot yet commit to tour Australia due to uncertainty over coronavirus protocols.

Players and team management have yet to learn the exact conditions under which the five-Test series will take place, with those who have young families particularly concerned about the potentially stringent rules.

Talks between the England and Wales Cricket Board and their counterparts at Cricket Australia are ongoing and it is hoped a specific set of plans could be in place ahead of a squad announcement next week.

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Joe Root (L) and Tim Paine has yet to commit to touring Australia but says he’s desperate to play in the Ashes. Photo: Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Root, who has two young children, refused to say if he would be available to lead England’s bid to regain the Ashes in a series scheduled to start in Brisbane on December 8.

“I feel it’s so hard to make a definite decision until you know,” Root said on Tuesday. “It’s a little bit frustrating but it’s where we are at.

“From a player’s point of view we just want to know what the position is and then we can make decisions.”

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The 30-year-old, named the Professional Cricketers’ Association men’s player of the year, added: “I’m desperate to be part of an Ashes series. I always am. It’s that one series as an England player that you want to be involved in and that will never change.

“The position I’m at in my career, it could be the last opportunity I get to go, so of course it’s something you’re desperate to do, desperate to hopefully make history over there and be part of something very special.”

Although the fifth Test is scheduled to take place in Perth, it could be moved to another venue given the mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival in Western Australia.

And the emergence of four new coronavirus cases in Queensland, the venue for the Ashes opener, led to the postponement of a first-class Sheffield Shield match against Tasmania at just an hour’s notice on Tuesday.

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Such a move will do little to allay the concerns of England players who have doubts about touring.

Root said: “I think it’s really important everyone makes a decision that they’re comfortable with. There’s so many different factors that fall into it and hopefully we’re in a position where it’s not an issue.”

Root has so far enjoyed a memorable 2021, scoring 1,455 runs at an average of 66.13 in 12 Tests, with two double hundreds and four centuries but he is yet to score a Test century in Australia.

Reminded of his lack of a Test ton in Australia, he replied: “I’m very aware of that and it’s something that I desperately want to put right.”

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