Markram replaces Malan at Kings as bubble fatigue, demanding winter prompt English withdrawals
Several of England’s all-format players have withdrawn from this year’s IPL as a result of bubble fatigue and in anticipation of a long winter.
Bairstow (Sunrisers Hyderabad), Woakes (Delhi Capitals), Malan and Buttler (Rajasthan Royals) have all been named in England’s T20 World Cup squad and might expect to be named in England’s Ashes tour party, too. As a result, they face the prospect of more than four months away from home including time in quarantine as they move from country to country. Buttler and Woakes are the fathers of young children, with Buttler having just celebrated the arrival of his second child.
It has emerged in recent days that all players heading to the IPL (which resumes on September 19) would be required to undergo six days of quarantine. This may well have been a contributory factor in the abandonment of the Manchester Test.
Moeen Ali, Sam Billings, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, George Garton, Eoin Morgan, Chris Jordan, Adil Rashid, Liam Livingstone and Jason Roy are the England players still expected to participate in the IPL. Some are expected to fly to the UAE today (Saturday) on a commercial flight. One or two others may not depart until after T20 Finals Day (on September 18). From that group of players, only Sam Curran and Moeen are expected to be named in the Ashes touring party, though it would be no surprise at all if Moeen, a father of two young children, withdrew from that.
Indeed, the future of that tour looks more precarious than ever after the events at Emirates Old Trafford. A significant number of senior players remain deeply uncomfortable with the prospect of a two-week quarantine at the start of that tour and, even more so, at the prospect of putting their families through the same. As a result, a number of high-profile withdrawals seem inevitable.
In relation to the Ashes tour, Tom Harrison, ECB chief executive, told Sky Sports on Friday: “Now that this Test series has come to an early conclusion, that becomes priority number one for us to work through with the players. It’s a conversation which now takes the centre stage, because it’s looming large on the horizon.”
While the ECB are adamant the tour will go ahead, the prospect of a second-string England side competing in the Ashes is real. Whether that is deemed to compromise the integrity of the events remains to be seen.
A crucial issue for the England players is the uncertainly surrounding travel to Australia at present. While there has been talk of allowing them to serve a relatively soft quarantine – perhaps in a resort hotel on the Gold Coast which would allow them access to golf courses – there are no guarantees. Perhaps more importantly, there are no guarantees such privileges would be extended to traveling family members. There is also the prospect of further quarantine requirements as the tour party moves between states.
“We should always have that ambition in mind to go to Australia with our best possible team,” Harrison said. “It’s an iconic Test series to play in, all England players want to be part of it.
“I totally understand the players’ perspective on families being present and the conditions under which families are present. I also don’t think there’s anything unreasonable about the way that debate has been positioned.
“It’s a conversation we’re having in partnership with Cricket Australia and the Australian government, all trying to get to the right solution for everyone to feel comfortable about going.”
What events at Emirates Old Trafford underline, however, is the power of modern players and their refusal to be cajoled into endless tournaments. Not even the IPL or the Ashes are immune to such pressures.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo