ENGLAND cricket chiefs have warned the Ashes could be CANCELLED this week.
The all-powerful ECB Board will make a decision on whether the Covid restrictions in place in Australia are considered acceptable to the players.
It comes after a Zoom meeting on Sunday between England players, management and administrators confirmed the belief that some are close to suffering from so-called bubble fatigue.
Cricket Australia are desperate for the iconic series to take place because otherwise they will lose tens of millions of pounds in TV revenue.
The tour remains likely to happen and the ECB’s stance could be interpreted as putting pressure on Cricket Australia and the Aussie government to offer less strict Covid protocols to the team and their families.
The delay means players including Dawid Malan, Mark Wood, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Curran, Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes and Liam Livingstone flew to the UAE on Monday for the T20 World Cup not knowing if they will be away for six weeks or 15 weeks.
The ECB statement said: “Over the weekend, we have been talking to England men’s players and management to provide them with the latest information about the proposed arrangements for this winter’s scheduled Ashes tour.
“We remain in regular and positive dialogue with Cricket Australia over these arrangements as the picture is constantly evolving.
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“With health and wellbeing at the forefront, our focus is to ensure the tour can go ahead with conditions for players and management to perform at their best.
“We will continue talking to our players this week to share the latest information and seek feedback.
“Later this week, the ECB Board will meet to decide whether the conditions in place are sufficient for the Tour to go ahead and enable the selection of a squad befitting a series of this significance.”
Buttler is one player who has expressed doubts about taking part in the Ashes while captain Joe Root refuses to commit publicly – although it is very likely he will go.
Among those who say they will travel come what may are senior bowlers Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson, as well as Essex batsman Dan Lawrence.
Jofra Archer (elbow injury) and Moeen Ali (retired from Test cricket) will not take part while Ben Stokes is unlikely to be involved as he manages his mental health.
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