English cricket leaders are “very confident” the upcoming Ashes series will go ahead as planned despite ongoing negotiations over COVID-related travel restrictions.
England's players are concerned about the possibility of families being unable to join them on the trip given Australia’s tight border controls, as well as the prospect of lengthy quarantines and restrictive bubble environments.
Talks involving the Professional Cricketers’ Association have been ongoing for some time and while Tom Harrison, chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board, acknowledged on Thursday there are plenty of complications before a final green light could be given, he suggested the necessary exemptions would be attained.
“All the right conversations are happening at government level in Australia, and we will be using our own diplomatic channels in the UK to ensure that the view of the players and the ECB (is heard),” Harrison said at Lord's during the second test between England and India.
"This is not players asking for anything unreasonable, these are very reasonable requests that we are asking the Australian government to give some leniency, frankly.
“It's going to be important for us to ensure that we can give comfort to players that their families are going to be able to be in Australia and that those conditions in which they are quarantined will be reasonable, enabling the players to be at their best in that test series,” he continued.
“It’s a conversation that’s going to take place over the next few weeks, but I am very confident we will get to a place where we can fulfill our obligations to tour.”
Harrison has played down speculation the Ashes could be postponed by a year to allow England fans to attend. He also cannot see England players sitting out the tour if loved ones were not permitted to travel.
“The Ashes is so important to global cricket, much like an England-India series, but even more so in certain parts of the world and for global cricket fans,” he said. "We never want to compromise the integrity of the series for any reason. Cricket Australia understand this, just as well as we do.
“The issue at the moment," he continued, “is the process that we need to go through to get the assurances that we need to be comfortable, that our players can get on the plane to Australia and feel confident that they can be at their best and they can perform at their best, without having to cope with the mental weight of being massively concerned about the conditions.”