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22 Oct 2021 9:40
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  •   Home > News > Politics

    Shane Warne urges UK and Australian governments to ensure this year's Ashes series goes ahead

    Australian cricket great Shane Warne calls on both the UK and Australian governments to make sure the 2021 Ashes series goes ahead, amid concerns English players may boycott over bans on their partners travelling with them.

    Australian cricket great Shane Warne has called on both the UK and Australian governments to make sure the 2021 Ashes series goes ahead, because "it will put a smile on so many faces".

    The English team will be allowed into Australia for the five-Test series under a special exemption, but the sticking point has been whether the players' partners and families will be given exemptions, leading to fears England may send a second-string team or that the series may even be cancelled.

    On Thursday Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned that English players travelling to Australia "won't get any special deals", with Australia's borders set to remain closed until 80 per cent of the population over 16 are double-vaccinated.

    Several English team members have warned they would not travel if it meant they had to be isolated over the Christmas period, with the tour stretching from November to January. 

    But Warne said he was confident that negotiations between governments and cricketing bodies would garner a good result.

    "All of us are hoping that the Ashes will be the best England team, the best Australian team, everyone's available, (and that) the governments and the boards can work it all out," he told the ABC.

    Cricket Australia is in talks with the state and federal governments about quarantine arrangements for the players.

    Last summer the families of Indian players were given exemptions to travel to Australia, and a Cricket Australia spokesman said they were "supremely confident that the full [England] contingent will come and will play the full five Tests".

    "We're hearing there's sort of a resort [for quarantine] where they can have a swimming pool and golf course for their families," Warne said. 

    "I wouldn't mind doing that quarantine," he added.

    Warne said the prospect of a successful summer Test series would be good for people in Australia after months of lockdown.

    "If The Ashes can go ahead and help people have to feel a bit better about it and enjoy the sport and put a smile on people's faces," he said.

    "I think the cricketers owe that, to try and do that as well."

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he had spoken with Mr Morrison about finding a solution, and reportedly warned him at a dinner in Washington this week that the tour was at risk of collapsing if the rules were not relaxed.

    "I raised it and he said he was going to do his best for the families," Mr Johnson said. 

    "He totally got the point that for cricketers it is very tough to ask people to be away from their families over Christmas."

    'Accept' some players won't tour: Warne

    Warne said it was understandable players had reservations about travelling with such strict quarantine requirements, and that it would inevitably turn some players away.

    Warne has been in England for several months as a coach to the men's London Spirit team in new limited overs format The Hundred, he contracted COVID-19 last month but only experienced mild symptoms.

    "For the sportsmen to be in these bio bubbles, it does have a toll after a period of time," he said.

    "You can understand some players not wanting to go into basically lockdown, hotel, cricket ground all the time. 

    "We have to accept that there are some players that don't want to go."

    Earlier this year former England Test captain Michael Vaughan said the Ashes tour would be a "farce" if players' families were not given travel exemptions, and another former England captain, Graham Gooch, said if England's best players were absent it would be bad for the game.

    "They can't afford to have players missing, or (they) need to put their best XI out to compete against Australia," Gooch told the ABC.

    "I'm hopeful that won't happen."    

    He said while he understood the Australian government’s point of view and the hard-line messaging from government, he himself thought it was a political bluff.

    "Politicians, they have to please the public and they have to say the right thing for the public, but I'm sure behind the scenes they're working to get this series on," Gooch said.

    Warne also called on all Australians to get vaccinated to ensure major sporting events can continue to take place. 

    "Let's go and get double-vaxxed everyone, because that means we might not get locked down and we can travel and have a little bit more normality," he said.

    "I think all of us are hoping that the Ashes will be the best England team, the best Australian team, and we see a great Ashes series in Australia this year."

    [sports newsletter]

    © 2021 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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