Former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan has warned that the upcoming Ashes series in Australia could descend into farce if the families of England players are not allowed into the country.
With the visiting team facing a gruelling months-long schedule likely to be subject to a host of pandemic-related restrictions, Vaughan said some players may choose not to make the trip if they cannot see their loved ones for such a long time.
Australia has imposed strict cap on the number of people entering the country throughout the pandemic and states have been quick to close their borders to prevent interstate movement as a way of tackling Covid-19 outbreaks.
But Vaughan, an Ashes-winning captain in 2005 turned commentator, urged the Australian federal and state governments to consider how they could give exemptions for players’ friends and family.
“If Australia continue to lock the borders and make it very, very difficult there will come a stage where a sports team decides not to come,” Vaughan told the ABC.
“I’m not saying that will be the England cricket team but … as we speak, I would be amazed if England have a full-strength team for the Ashes.”
Although Vaughan stressed that he did not believe the Ashes would be cancelled, sports tours have posed difficult problems for administrators.
The Australian one-day team have been in the West Indies for several weeks but several players – including star batsmen Steve Smith and David Warner – decided not to make the trip.
They also declined to travel to Bangladesh where Australia is due to play a five-match T20 series next month when they finish in the West Indies.
Concerns will have grown after the team’s second one-day international in Barbados on Wednesday was called off just before the first ball was due to bowled when a member of the West Indies staff returned a positive Covid test.
England are due to arrive in Australia in November with the first Test starting in Brisbane on 8 December before ending in January in Perth. But before that many of the players will be on duty for the T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates between October and November.
Families have traditionally joined the players for at least part of such tours in past but with more than half of Australia’s population in lockdown and concerns about the spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19 the number one issue in the country, it could be difficult for politicians to grant exemptions for travel.