Scott Morrison snubs plea from UK to ease quarantine for cricket
‘There’s no special deals’ Australian PM Scott Morrison snubs plea from Boris Johnson to ease quarantine rules so England’s cricket team can be joined by their families for the Ashes
- Scott Morrison hinted the stars were no different to skilled workers or students
- Boris Johnson said Mr Morrison promised he would ‘see if he could find solution’
- The PMs had tried to thrash out a deal as they met in Washington DC this week
England’s cricketers and their families will be given ‘no special deals’ over quarantine for the Ashes, Australia’s Prime Minister has warned.
Scott Morrison suggested the players were no different to skilled workers or students so would have to self-isolate.
But Boris Johnson sounded a more positive note and said Mr Morrison had promised he would ‘see if he could find a solution’.
The pair tried to thrash out a deal as they met in Washington DC – following their trips to the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
England stars such as captain Joe Root are weary of bubble fatigue and the prospect of further restrictions while in Australia.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and Cricket Australia (CA) have been locked in talks throughout the year but there is yet to be a breakthrough.
Scott Morrison (pictured with Boris Johnson in the US on Tuesday) suggested the players were no different to skilled workers or students so would have to self-isolate
England cricket captain Joe Root (pictured with his wife Carrie Cotterell) could lead out an understrength team for the Ashes in Australia this summer
Stuart Broad (pictured with his fiancee Mollie King) has confirmed he will tour down under – but understands if other teammates stay home
Mr Morrison said: ‘I would love to see the Ashes go ahead, as I shared with Boris. But there’s no special deals there.
‘I don’t see a great deal of difference in skilled workers or students, who will be able to come to Australia when you reach the vaccination rates.’
Morrison reiterated international travel would resume at 80 per cent double-dose vaccination coverage, for over 16s.
But when asked about the talks yesterday, the UK Prime Minister sounded a more positive note.
Mr Johnson told reporters: ‘I raised it and he said he was going to do his best for the families.
‘He totally got the point that for cricketers it is very tough to ask people to be away from their families over Christmas.’
He added: ‘He merely undertook to come back and see if he could find a solution.’
The pair had dinner after the military pact they formed with the US enraged France because it led to Canberra cancelling a lucrative deal to provide submarines.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (pictured in New York) said Scott Morrison told him over dinner he will ‘look to find a solution’ for England’s players and their families ahead of the Ashes starting in November in Brisbane
Controversial Australian batsman Steve Smith (pictured in January) and his Australian teammates want to play a full strength English XI in the Ashes
CA’s attempt to finalise quarantine and biosecurity plans that satisfy all parties, including Queensland’s risk-averse state government, has proven to be difficult.
There is hope the coming weeks will deliver a breakthrough in talks between the ECB and its Test players, ensuring a near full-strength squad arrives for the iconic series.
England’s quarantine concessions will be dictated by whichever state they are staying in, with the itinerary believed to start with quarantine on the Gold Coast.
But the ECB is at the mercy of the federal government regarding its touring party’s size and entry to Australia, including questions about family members flying out.
Several England stars are wavering over the trip, as they may be away from their families for up to three months over Christmas.
Stuart Broad last week said he will fly to Australia but understood if teammates opted out of the tour, arguing CA had provided ‘minimal detail’ about restrictions.
It comes after England was accused of ‘failing a member of the cricket fraternity in need’ after pulling out of next month’s tour of Pakistan.
It was despite Pakistan playing here in bio-secure conditions last year, ensuring the ECB did not make huge losses.
It was agreed England would play their first internationals in Pakistan in 16 years, only for the ECB to say it was ‘sincerely sorry for the impact’ their decision would have.
England Cricket added that bosses remains committed to a full tour of Pakistan in 2022.
It follows New Zealand’s lead, after the southern nation pulled out of its tour citing security concerns.
England have been accused of letting Pakistan down after pulling out of next month’s T20 tour
The drastic decision comes after New Zealand’s hasty departure on security grounds last week
PCB chairman Ramiz Raja tweeted: ‘Disappointed with England, pulling out of their commitment and failing a member of their cricket fraternity when it needed it most.
‘Survive we will. A wake-up call for Pak team to become the best team in the world for teams to line up to play them without excuses.’
He added on Sky Sports: ‘It is disappointing to say the least because now was the time for England to help, hold our hand because that is what our small cricket fraternity does.
‘It is unfortunate and disappointing because it may have a domino effect.
‘New Zealand have pulled out because of a bizarre security threat that wasn’t shared with our security forces.
‘And now England have decided to pull out. Whatever sacrifices we made to help the Covid situation, that appears to have gone. We have learned a harsh lesson.
‘It is bizarre. When it comes to Pakistan Super League, all these England players are happy to travel, but as a group, they are spooked by the situation and are not willing to share it.
‘It is extremely frustrating. We are a resilient cricket nation, we will survive. It’s just that you feel cheated.’
PCB chairman Ramiz Raja has launched a stinging attack and admitted he now feels ‘cheated’
It was initially agreed that England would play their first internationals in Pakistan in 16 years
A high-level security threat aimed at New Zealand players saw their tour of Pakistan called off
Raja slammed the ‘western bloc’ of the 2019 World Cup finalists and Australia for not ‘accepting us as theirs’ and said the PCB will ‘only go as far as is in our interest’ now.
He said: ‘I am severely disappointed in England’s withdrawal but it was expected because this western bloc gets united unfortunately and tries to back each other.
‘This [England’s withdrawal] was expected but this is a lesson for us because we go out of our way to accommodate and pamper these sides when they visit.
‘And when we go there, we undergo strict quarantines and we tolerate their admonishments, but there is a lesson in this.
‘That is, that from now on we will only go as far as is in our interest. Our interest is that cricket will not stop in our country and if the cricket fraternity will not take care of each other then there’s no point to it.
‘New Zealand, then England, now we have a West Indies series that can also be hit, and Australia who is already reconsidering.
‘This – England, Australia, New Zealand – is all one block. Who can we complain to? We thought they were our own but they haven’t accepted us as theirs.’
Eoin Morgan’s side had been due to play two Twenty20s in Rawalpindi on October 14 and 15 and England women were scheduled to feature in five matches.
But the trip was canned 72 hours after New Zealand responded to a high-level security threat aimed at their players by calling off their tour at the last minute.
In a statement, the ECB confirmed its board had convened over the weekend and had decided to withdraw.
It read: ‘The mental and physical well-being of our players and support staff remains our highest priority.
‘We know there are increasing concerns about travelling to the region and believe going ahead will add further pressure to a group who have already coped with a long period of operating in restricted Covid environments.
‘We believe touring under these conditions will not be ideal preparation for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, where performing well remains a top priority.’
The cancellation will not cost the ECB financially, as it was a goodwill tour rather than being part of international cricket’s Future Tours Programme.
- England’s five-Test series against Australia is slated to start in Brisbane on December 8, while the women’s Ashes is set to start in Canberra on January 27
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