Australia’s Aaron Finch indicates Ashes series resolution is close

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Australia’s one-day captain Aaron Finch has indicated this winter’s Ashes series is looking likely to go ahead.

England’s tour has been in doubt due to the difficulties presented by coronavirus restrictions, most notably Australia’s strict quarantine laws.

It is thought that quarantine arrangements for the families of players have been one of the main concerns, with captain Joe Root among the players yet to commit.

England captain Joe Root (centre) is among the players yet to commit to this winter's Ashes
England captain Joe Root (centre) is among the players yet to commit to this winter’s Ashes (Tim Goode/PA)

Discussions between the England and Wales Cricket Board and Cricket Australia over entry requirements and bubble conditions have been held and it is hoped a resolution can be reached this week.

And on Wednesday Finch suggested talks have progressed well.

“I can really sympathise with them and I am glad everyone is coming to a resolution,” he said. “The quarantine conditions sound really positive.”

Speaking on a media call ahead of the T20 World Cup, Finch said he fully understands why England’s players might be reluctant to commit without certain assurances.

He said: “It’s obviously a difficult situation for them. They’ve been dragged from pillar to post with their schedule over the last couple of months, so I can understand where they’re coming from.

Australia’s Aaron Finch crosses his arm while on the field
Australia’s Aaron Finch has thrown his support behind England to tour Down Under (Dan Mullan/PA)

“Having families around… especially in a pandemic – guys are on the road for a lot longer than what tours used to go (for), when you add on quarantine at the start and potentially at the end – so I sympathise fully with them. It is difficult.

“I think it is up to the individual. Personally I would do it but we have been in a different situation to England.

“They have played so much cricket in the last 18 months to two years. I can understand their want and need to have partners and families and as much comfort as they can. It is a really big issue.”

Another figure close to the negotiations is Todd Greenberg, the chief executive of the Australian Cricketers’ Association. He too believes the outlook is now positive.

“For the England players, they needed some level of surety from us that what’s happened in the previous three months is probably not indicative of what might happen in the next three,” Greenberg told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.

“We’ve talked to them about that, we’ve talked to them about the vaccination rates, about the planning with governments.

“The long and the short of it, for me, is the England players have handled themselves really well, they’ve asked the right questions, they’ve been really professional in the way they’ve dealt with that and all credit to them.

“They’re going to get a good result here because the conditions they’ll tour in will be fantastic, and we’ll have a great Ashes summer.”

Despite the progress, Finch does admit he is concerned about the impact playing in such tight bubbles for a prolonged period could have on players’ mental health.

He said: “What we will find on the back of this, in my opinion, is there is gong to be a mental strain on a lot of people, not just players but administrators, coaching staff, people who have done so much work and spent so much time in isolation and bubbles. It does make it really challenging. ”

Sir Ian Botham has questioned the desire of some England players
Sir Ian Botham has questioned the desire of some England players (Mike Egerton/PA)

Not all views on the causes of the Ashes uncertainty have been as conciliatory, however.

With the matter having become a long-running issue, former England all-rounder Sir Ian Botham questioned the desire of some players to play in the series.

The 65-year-old told the Daily Telegraph: “It’s the ultimate test and — I don’t know — I start to wonder maybe if some of these guys don’t fancy the ultimate test.

“You have to start to worry about it. Playing for England is the ultimate. To play Test cricket for England is the ultimate and to play against Australia in Australia, and win, is magnificent.

“I just wish that we could actually put a positive spin on something and my positive spin is: ‘Let’s get out there, let’s see if we can beat the best in their own backyard.’ Because Australia don’t lose very often in their own backyard.

“I suggest it’s a challenge and if I was in their boots, I’d already have my bags packed.”

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