England captain Joe Root has conceded he can’t commit to travelling to Australia for this summer’s Ashes until the “lay of the land” is sorted amid concern players won’t travel if their families can’t accompany them.
Several England Test stars are believed to be weighing up whether to travel as Cricket Australia works through a process of trying to obtain exemptions for their families to come too.
Last week former England captain Michael Vaughan said the Ashes would be a “farce” if top-line stars didn’t travel and the series should even be delayed until the best players were available.
“You cannot go to Australia, the hardest place to play, with only half your first-choice team. Broadcasters did not pay a lot of money to show a series like that. It would lack credibility,” Vaughan wrote in the Telegraph.
Speaking ahead of a home Test series against India, Root said every single player dreamt of being part of an Ashes series in Australia.
But he said the decision of teammate Ben Stokes to step away from the game having spent a long part of the past 12 months in bubbles and away from family showed the impact it could have.
Root said he couldn’t make a decision about travelling until all the details were clear.
“As long as I’ve played we’ve always spent long periods away from home and that is a challenge in itself,“ Root said. ”But certainly it has been heightened by the environment we find ourselves in, and it’s just important we keep talking about it.
“We‘ve said from the outset that we don’t think this is a sustainable way of living and playing and we’ve tried to manage it as best we can. If you find it getting too much you have to talk to people and give yourself the best chance of staying in a good place.
“What I will say is that having the opportunity to lift that urn is one of the things you dream about from being four or five years old. That does not change.
“From a players’ point of view, until we know what the lay of the land is, it’s very hard to make any sort of decision. Until then we have to continue conversations with the ECB so they can work with Australia to try to come up with what it’s going to look like when we get there.”
Current rules only allow 3000 people into Australia each month, which could make it hard for a large group of partners and children of the England players and coaches to travel.
Some England players could be on the road for up to four months, with the Ashes set to be follow the T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates in October and November.
Root said the decision was not a simple one.
“Of course there are challenges, but everyone is desperate to be part of an Ashes series in Australia,” he said.
“It’s just at what cost.
“We are still very passionate about Ashes cricket, we know our responsibilities as players, wanting to look after the integrity of Test cricket and the implications of this tour, so of course any decision that is made will not be made lightly.”