Ian Botham questioned the mindset of the current crop of cricketers.© AFP
Ashes hero Ian Botham has questioned the willingness of England players to face the “final test” of the tour of Australia as cricket chiefs try to strike a deal to allow the tour to go ahead. England are scheduled to play a five-Test series starting December 8 in Brisbane but concerns over player welfare and Australia’s strict coronavirus restrictions have put the tour in doubt. Players are understood to allay fears about quarantines, bubble environments and access to families, something even captain Joe Root has refused to commit so far.
The England and Wales Cricket Board will meet this week to decide whether the Ashes can go ahead, according to reports that there have been positive talks with Cricket Australia.
Botham, who has won several Ashes campaigns and is touted as one of England’s greatest players, questioned the mindset of the current crop of cricketers.
The 65-year-old former all-rounder wrote in The Daily Telegraph, “It surprises me that maybe some of these people don’t like the final exam.”
“You need to worry about that. Playing Test cricket for England is the last and it’s great to play and win against Australia in Australia.
“Australia doesn’t lose in their backyard very often. It’s a challenge and if I were in their shoes, I would have already packed my bags.”
Australia has largely sealed its borders to international travelers during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it would be “flexible and practical” on the tour.
Players in multi-format England potentially face months of travel and living in a biosecure bubble. The T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates and Oman begins on October 17, ahead of the Ashes series in December and January.
Australia are the current holders of the Ashes in 2019 after retaining the urn after a 2-2 draw in England. They won the final series “Down Under” 4-0 in 2017/18.
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