Speaking on the latest episode of the Wisden Cricket Weekly Podcast, former England opener Mark Butcher was critical of the prospect of England players turning down the opportunity to tour Australia this winter for the Ashes.
ESPNcricinfo reported last week that England could be forced to send an under-strength squad Down Under, with players expressing concerns over quarantine conditions they and their families could potentially face. Last month Jos Buttler told The Sunday Times that he wouldn’t rule out missing the tour due to the amount of time he would be away from his family.
The Test series between the two sides is scheduled to begin on December 8 and end on January 18.
“I’m slightly furious about the idea that players are thinking about not going on an Ashes tour because they’re worried about the quarantine requirements for their wives and kids,” said Butcher on this week’s show.
“Now, wives and kids going on trips in my time was very much a privilege, it wasn’t expected. I know times have changed a lot but given that everybody is having to make various sacrifices, lots of sacrifices, lots of things are different because of Covid…
“This is a one-off Ashes trip. Chances are, the next time it comes around, four years’ time, every thing will be relatively back to normal and you’ll have your families there for Christmas and all the rest of it. But this is your job. This is how you earn your money.
“If you’re earning that much money that it doesn’t matter to you whether you go on an Ashes trip anymore or whether or not there are no consequences for you pulling out of an Ashes trip, and you get just welcomed straight back into the side once again on the other side as though nothing has happened, then things have taken a pretty bad pass. And the future of touring, the future of long-form cricket, the future of these types of events start to become very much in jeopardy.
“At the moment, the only person who’s sort of stuck their head above the parapet has been Stuart Broad, funnily enough. He said ‘I’m going, it doesn’t matter whatever happens, I’m going, it’s an Ashes tour’. He understands what that means. I’d like one or two others to stand up and do the same thing.”
Writing in his Mail on Sunday column last week, Broad wrote that “Ashley Giles, England’s director of cricket, has made it clear a player’s chances of selection in the future will not be harmed if they opt out in these circumstances”.
Broad used the same column to express that he would travel to Australia for the five-Test series. “If you ask me if I would be happy to get on a plane to Australia in November, I would say yes,” Broad wrote. “I am working tirelessly to get there. I don’t feel there will be a postponement. In my mind, it is 100 per cent clear that an England team of some description will embark on the tour.”
James Anderson has also said he will tour Australia. “My family have already said they are not going to Australia,” he wrote in his Telegraph column earlier this month. “My kids are in school, the youngest has exams and there is no way they can do two weeks quarantine because by the time they come out I will be playing a Test match and might only see them for a few days before they have to go back for the start of term. I have got my head around that but I only play one format so it is easier for me. The India tour earlier this year was a couple of months and the Australia trip will be similar. It is fine, I can manage that. The bigger issue is for guys playing every format. They need some clarity.”