Boris Johnson bids to save Ashes by urging Aussie PM to let England players’ families travel Down Under

, Boris Johnson bids to save Ashes by urging Aussie PM to let England players’ families travel Down Under, The Evepost BBC News

Boris Johnson has personally intervened in an attempt to save the Ashes this winter by directly calling on his Australian counterpart to lift a travel ban against the families of England’s cricketers.

The Prime Minister used his high-level meeting in Washington with Scott Morrison to seek assurances after players warned of revolt if loved ones remain banned over Christmas.

Australia has some of the strictest Covid-19 protocols in the world, but Mr Johnson sounded an optimistic note around the possibility of exemptions.

“I raised it (with Mr Morrison) and he said he was going to do his best for the families,” Mr Johnson told reporters afterwards.

“The cricketers, it’s very tough to be away from their families for so long over Christmas. He merely undertook to go away and come back with a solution.”

The five Ashes Tests take place from December 8 until January 18, and the England and Wales Cricket Board is poised to receive final details from Cricket Australia on travel plans this week.

As it stands, only the team can be guaranteed entry under Australia’s Covid rules which permit travelling under “exceptional circumstances”.

Lord Ian Botham, recently named Mr Johnson’s trade envoy to the country, and English-based fans are certain to remain barred from travelling.

However, a potential allowance for player families would ease mounting worries that some will refuse to travel, having already been subject to some of the strictest bubble arrangements in elite sport.

, Boris Johnson bids to save Ashes by urging Aussie PM to let England players’ families travel Down Under, The Evepost BBC News


Scott Morrison and Boris Johnson met for dinner in Washington on Tuesday evening


Credit: GETTY IMAGES

When quarantine arrangements and provisions for families are confirmed by the weekend, England players will then make individual decisions on their participation before the Ashes squad is announced in the first week of October.

, Boris Johnson bids to save Ashes by urging Aussie PM to let England players’ families travel Down Under, The Evepost BBC News

A host of players are understood to be uncertain about travelling, although Stuart Broad recently said he “would be happy to get on a plane to Australia”.

Britain this month sent four million Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines to Australia, and the ECB is hopeful that good relations between the countries will help.

After 18 months in biosecure environments England’s players have stressed the need for their families to be allowed to travel to Australia, with the ECB stating that “the integrity of the Ashes is going to be paramount”.

“We need to go through to get the assurances that we need to be comfortable, that our players can get on the plane to Australia and feel confident that they can be at their best and they can perform at their best,” ECB chief executive Tom Harrison said last month. “Those assurances have been highlighted to Cricket Australia. They’re taking it very seriously. And they understand the issue at hand.”

England players also involved in the T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates and Oman – for which they depart on October 8 – face the prospect of being away from home for almost four months.

The bar on entry to all British nationals was on the agenda when Mr Johnson met Mr Morrison for dinner in Washington on Tuesday evening.