Townsville Bulletin



THE Ashes will go ahead even if England captain Joe Root follows through on his claims players won’t travel to Australia if quarantine conditions are deemed too harsh.

Australian captain Tim Paine is adamant this summer’s series would start on December 8 “whether Joe is here or not” amid ongoing uncertaint­y about the level of restrictio­ns the tourists may face.

Cricket Australia is still negotiatin­g with the federal government and the England and Wales Cricket Board over the exact nature of travel conditions and whether players’ families will be able to come.

Earlier this week Root couldn’t confirm he would travel and there is ongoing speculatio­n several other stars may not make the trip, which follows the T20 World Cup, if families couldn’t come.

On Friday morning, Paine suggested the ongoing speculatio­n was more smoke and mirrors, adamant the fiveTest series would happen.

“There’ll be a squad of England players coming here and the First Test will be starting on December 8,” Paine (pictured) said.

“The Ashes are going ahead. The First Test is on December 8th – whether Joe is here or not. They all want to come, there’s no doubt about that. It’ll be worked out above us and then they’ll have a choice whether to get on that plane or not.

“No one is forcing any England player to come. That’s the beauty of the world we live in – you have a choice. If you don’t want to come, don’t come.”

It is understood the England players and their families will be able to quarantine in a resort-style facility in Queensland before the opening Test at the Gabba, and not be restricted to just their rooms.

Paine rebuked former England batsman Kevin Pietersen who said England players shouldn’t travel if they were placed under any restrictio­ns, given most have been lifted in the UK. “There is NO WAY I would go to The Ashes this winter. ZERO chance! Unless, the ridiculous quarantine rules were squashed and my family could travel with zero restrictio­ns,” he posted on Twitter.

Paine said Pietersen did not speak for the current players.

“We have not heard one England player come out and say they will not be coming. I think it’s been beat-up and people like Kevin like to get themselves a little bit of exposure in the media,” he told SEN Hobart.

“If you do want to come and represent your country and play in an Ashes series which Joe Root said ‘that’s what they all want to do, that’s what they dream about doing’ then come do it. Kevin (Pietersen), mate, leave it to the players. Let them speak.

“The great thing about it if anyone is talking to Kevin (Pietersen) is no one is forcing you to come.”

Paine said he was progressin­g well from invasive neck surgery last month, and would be ready for the opening Test in Brisbane.

“I’m feeling so much better than I was the first week and the second week,” he said.

“Looking to start running next week and then hopefully into some cricket not long after that. I’ll be fine, I’ll be playing some games for Tasmania before the Ashes.”

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