The Ashes: ECB says player welfare 'main priority' ahead of tour plans

The five-test series between England and Australia is scheduled to begin on December 8 in Brisbane.

FILE - Ben Stokes in action for England in a test match. Leading English cricketers, including Stokes face the prospect of being apart from their families for four months prior to the Ashes, which is being looked into by ECB for the players' welfare.   -  AP

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) will make player and staff welfare the main priority as it discusses provisional plans to visit Australia for the upcoming Ashes series, the board said on Friday.

The debate over whether the series should go ahead or be postponed by a year has started to grow due to restrictions put in place by Australian authorities prohibiting all but a small number of arrivals into the country as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Leading English cricketers, including Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler, face the prospect of being apart from their families for four months, including over Christmas and New Year, due to their commitments at the Twenty20 World Cup prior to the Ashes.

The ECB, in a joint statement with the Professional Cricketers’ Association, said it had held meetings with the England team and the Team England Player Partnership to discuss provisional plans for the five-test series, which is scheduled to begin on December 8 in Brisbane.

"All parties are collaborating and will continue to work together to understand protocols around bubble environments, family provision and quarantine rules that will be in place for the tour during the current COVID-19 pandemic," the statement said.

The board further stated that the player and management's welfare was paramount and it will plan operations with Cricket Australia accordingly.

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"All stakeholders are committed to putting player and staff welfare as the main priority and finding the right solutions that enables the England team to compete with the best players and at the highest possible standard that the Ashes series deserves," it added.

Former Australia captain Greg Chappell has called on England's cricketers to put aside concerns over quarantine restrictions and commit to travelling to Australia for the series.

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