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England and Australia hold Ashes crisis talks amid concerns that the Omicron Covid-19 variant could disrupt series


Several players in Joe Root’s squad were already concerned about Covid-19 in Australia (Picture: Getty)

England have begun crisis talks with Cricket Australia amid growing fears that the new Omicron Covid-19 variant could disrupt the upcoming Ashes series.

A number of England’s senior players had their reservations about committing to the tour Down Under amid the strict Covid-19 restrictions in place, but were convinced to travel after an agreement was reached, that meant their families could travel with them.

But there are now fears that the new variant could cause more issues, which may include certain states preventing player’s families from entering. 

Various states have already began to tighten their restrictions again, after two passengers arriving in Sydney from Qatar on Saturday tested positive for the variant.

England’s managing director, Ashley Giles, has confirmed that there are fears throughout the England camp over the new variant, but has pledged to do everything he can to make sure that the series runs as smoothly as possible. 

‘It’s very early days but we are starting that conversation,’ Giles said. 

Ashley Giles has confirmed that talks have begun between the ECB and Cricket Australia (Picture: Getty)

‘There are going to be changes to border controls in terms of our families being allowed to travel and we clearly hope that’s not going to affect us. But we are in the hands of national and local governments.’

‘We always knew things could change. I guess we hoped things would change positively as we went through the series but, as we’ve been aware over the last two years with variants, things can also change negatively.

‘Can we prepare for everything? It’s not really possible actually because of the big moving parts even around quarantine times and rules around different states.

‘We will do everything we can to make sure the families are accommodated and of course that the players are happy.’

Whilst none of the Ashes venues have changed yet, The Western Australia Cricket Association chief executive Christina Matthews has described the chances of the final Test going ahead in Perth as planned as ’50/50.’

‘I’d probably say at the moment I’m 50/50. I’d gone as high as 97 percent but I’ve gone back to 50/50. We’ll wait and see,’ she said.

The fifth Test may have to be moved from Perth’s WACA ground (Picture: Getty)

‘It’s a matter of whether cricket can meet those demands or not.

‘One of the difficulties for cricket is just the high level of technology that’s needed around the broadcast and the number of people that are needed around the broadcast compared to an AFL (Australian Football League) broadcast.

‘It’s one thing getting the players in (but) it’s another thing getting the people who have to broadcast.’

The series is due to get underway at the Gabba in Brisbane on December 8.


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