The convoluted battle between the England Cricket Team, the ECB and Cricket Australia is headed towards an outright Ashes boycott or a tour by a second-string team led by a new captain, ESPNcricinfo reported on Wednesday.
According to the report, the England players are unhappy with their board's response to their demands for a partial or complete postponement of the series. These demands have originated from their fear of hard quarantines in Australia, for both themselves and their family members.
As things stand right now, the visiting group, some of whom will be coming directly from the bio-secure bubble in the T20 World Cup, will have to undergo a 14-day quarantine. This will include a daily permit for only two to three hours of training outside the rooms. The bubble restrictions after these two weeks are likely to be strict as well.
In response to this, some England players have floated the idea of holding the series next year or splitting it into two parts. However, the ECB is adamant to go forward with the series as planned, which has left many players disappointed.
Some in the squad are now considering a total boycott of the tour to show their displeasure. However, a few single-format players might still go ahead with the tour which could mean a depleted, second-string side will have to clash with a full-strength Australia at home. ESPNcricinfo also reported that senior pacer Stuart Broad might be chosen as a captaincy replacement if the latter takes place.
More clarity is expected in the coming days as the ECB has asked its players to explain their stance by September 30.
Joe Root's stance on a possible pull-out by England's players
During the recently concluded India-England Test series, Joe Root had put forward his stance on the controversial issue. The skipper remained mostly non-committal and said all will depend on close communication with the ECB. He said:
“I think it’s really important we keep talking about it as a squad, working closely with the ECB. There is still a lot to consider. We will keep trying to do everything we can to keep good communication through the right channels. There’s a few things we could do without right now. But this is how things are at the moment. You have to just take it in your stride as a team."
As of now, the Ashes are set to begin on December 8 at the Gabba in Brisbane.