In the wake of the England and Wales Cricket Council (ECB) decision to cancel the short tour of its men’s and women’s teams to Pakistan in mid-October, he now faces a barrage of problems delicate concerning the impending male ashes. tour in Australia.
The first is the pressure from the Australian authorities to continue the tour. The stake is some 144 million dollars in revenue.
The Australian cricket team have not played a test match abroad since touring England in 2019, having pulled out of a series against South Africa in April 2020. At the same time, one team, missing a few players due to injuries or unavailability, made short tours to England, New Zealand, West Indies and Bangladesh, playing mostly T20 cricket, in preparation for this month’s T20 World Cup next. In this context, a lack of income for its board and serious playing time for its elite cricketers are all too evident.
Second, there is great uncertainty about what tour conditions the Australian government will allow. Some players are reluctant to commit to the two-month tour unless their families can accompany them. Others ask for clarification on the severity of the biosecure bubbles that will be imposed.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked his Australian counterpart if special allowances could be granted, only for the latter to say that “there are no special agreements there”.
Given the historic scale of the cricket rivalry between England and Australia, this is no surprise, as no favors will be given to the tour. In addition, the uncompromising approach taken by Australian authorities to deal with the pandemic, which has seen the borders largely closed to foreign visitors since March 2020, means that special treatment for families of the visiting cricketers be politically popular.
Nevertheless, there is cause for optimism. Australia plans to reopen once 80% of the population is fully vaccinated. At the current rate of progress, this could be achieved “no later than Christmas,” according to a minister.
Third, the timetable is not yet finalized. This reflects the different approaches taken by state governments and the different rates of infection. Sydney is expected to come out of lockdown on October 10. October 11, Melbourne. 26, followed by a gradual relaxation of restrictions. In Brisbane, where the test series is scheduled to begin on December 12. On the 8th, the National Rugby League final was due to be played in front of some 50,000 spectators on Sunday, but a local outbreak of four COVID-19 cases had raised concerns and prompted the Tasmanian cricket team to choose to return home. her a few minutes before her game against Queensland which must begin.
A big doubt centers on the fifth test scheduled for Perth on January 14. The Western Australian government has a 14-day quarantine policy in place for all arrivals, leaving no room between the end of the previous match in Sydney on January 9. Faced with this feverish environment, potential English tourists remain worried. It should be remembered that England players have been involved in more cricket conditions and bubble biosecurity than most of their counterparts in other countries.
Fourth, Cricket Australia has now provided the ECB with details of proposed tour arrangements with the ECB. These will be shared with players before October 31st. 4, when asked to specify their availability. This is an action that was not even taken in connection with the canceled tour of Pakistan, according to the Team England Player Partnership which represents the players under central contract. Already an experienced player has declared his retirement from Test Cricket before the deadline.
Other younger or single players reported positive attitudes towards participation. Both councils want the tour to continue. Depending on the conditions offered by the Australians for quarantine and biosecurity and any factors as yet unforeseen, it is likely that the tour will continue, but that England could be deprived of some of their more experienced players. Getting involved in a series against Australia is the pinnacle of cricket for most players and for some it may be their last chance and for others their first or only opportunity.
No doubt they hope conditions will be different from those experienced by the Indian Women’s Party, which recently went through two weeks of confinement in a Brisbane hotel, with the Australian team, who were all confined to their rooms and were unable to meet or train.
The enthusiasm shown by the ECB for the tour contrasts sharply with that shown for the tour in Pakistan. It drew a lot of criticism from respected commentators and former players. In particular, the act is seen as a slap in the face of the Pakistanis who selflessly toured England in mid-July, before many pandemic-induced social restrictions were lifted, to play three T20 matches and ODI.
It also generated the feeling of a schism between the “big three” – India, Australia and England – and the nine other full members of the International Cricket Council, in the sense that the three will prioritize a series between them against the backdrop of a frenzied international calendar that has been ravaged by the pandemic and political unrest.
If those feelings are to be quashed, then those with the power in the game will need to show that they can match the appropriate responsibility with that power. This means acting for the good of all participating countries and all players and not just those who are able to profit from the financial and commercial returns provided in the most revenue-generating tournaments. Recent evidence suggests that the prospects for reducing this inequality are not good.