England await Ashes restrictions news as Morrison warns ‘no special deals’

  • Players will be sent quarantine details in the coming days
  • Australian PM insists no favours will be done for tourists

The fog of uncertainty that has hung over preparations for this winter’s Ashes tour could start to lift over the next few days as England’s players are sent details of the Covid restrictions that will apply to their trip to Australia, and finally learn about the quarantine and bubble conditions that will be imposed upon them as they play five Tests in six weeks across five different states.

During lengthy negotiations between the ECB and Cricket Australia the prospective tourists had sought assurances that their families would be able to travel. With Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, now promising “no special deals” their primary concern has shifted to the conditions they themselves will face. The key question is whether they will have a degree of freedom once they complete their initial quarantine on arrival in the country, or whether they will be expected to live in strictly enforced bio-secure bubbles.

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Pakistan feel ‘used and binned’ by England’s withdrawal, says PCB chair

  • Ramiz Raja has no faith in England’s promise of 2022 tour
  • ECB made ‘independent’ decision, says High Commissioner

Pakistan have lost faith in English cricket and the promise of a tour in 2022, with contingency plans set to be drawn up amid a belief they will once again be left in the lurch.

The decision by England to cancel a short visit to Pakistan next month and renege on their show of gratitude for the biosecure summer tour last year has drawn widespread criticism with Ramiz Raja, chair of the Pakistan Cricket Board, saying his country feels “used and binned”.

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England accused of ‘making excuses’ after pulling out of Pakistan tour

  • Men’s and women’s trips cancelled due to security fears
  • ECB has failed member of cricket fraternity, says PCB chair

England have been accused of “failing a member of their cricket fraternity” and “making excuses” after cancelling the tour of Pakistan next month and citing mental wellbeing as one of the driving factors behind the decision.

The short trip was to be England’s first visit to Pakistan since 2005, featuring two double-header men’s and women’s Twenty20s in Rawalpindi on 14 and 15 October before Heather Knight’s women’s side stayed on for three further one-day internationals. But it was plunged into doubt last Friday when New Zealand withdrew their men’s team from the country in response to a “specific” and “credible” security threat that was relayed to their government by intelligence services.

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Pressure for change is building to protect cricketers from burnout | Ebony Rainford-Brent

A crowded calendar is causing injuries and a player like Jos Buttler could miss matches because of his young family

Cricket has become a sport that never stops, but though the Indian Premier League restarts this weekend and the bandwagon keeps rolling we have also reached the end of the British summer, as good a time as any to take stock and assess where we are and what the future holds.

For England, there are some easy answers and some harder ones. In terms of cricket it has been a solid few months, with success in the short-form game balancing out some disappointment in the Tests. But the way the men’s international summer ended, with the abandonment of the fifth Test of a superb series against India, demonstrated a sport in the middle of a transformation.

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Rikki Clarke prepares to leave crease for the last time … with one regret | Andy Bull

Surrey’s indefatigable 39-year-old is retiring at the end of the season, and is left to rue how his international career ended

Somewhere among his old kit and other bits, Rikki Clarke has a fat scrapbook, full of dog-eared clippings from the summer of 2002. He was 20 and on a run of form that took him from Surrey’s second XI into the England team in the space of three months.

“Clarke in Like Flynn” was the Guardian headline when he hit 153 against Somerset, “Clarke’s Flash of Lightning” when he smacked three sixes in an innings against Yorkshire and “Rikki’s a Rare Talent” was above a full-page profile in the Observer when he won his first England call-up for the Champions Trophy that September.

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England v India: player ratings for the unresolved Test series

Jasprit Bumrah, Virat Kohli and Ollie Robinson stood out during the series, which remains incomplete with India leading 2-1

By Gary Naylor for the 99.94 Cricket Blog

Joe Root: 564 runs, average 94; one wicket, average 40; seven catches
Joe Root was monumental with the bat, at times carrying his team as Atlas carried the globe, his performances no less remarkable just because they are expected these days. But his captaincy, in the key moments, was dismal, letting Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah get away from England at Lord’s with a wit that wouldn’t sit well with a schoolboy XI’s skipper. At other times, easy singles to fielders not quite saving one ceded the momentum of the match to India and his reluctance to bowl Craig Overton was inexplicable, preferring to flog his thoroughbred, Jimmy Anderson. He out-batted his opposite number by a distance, but was out-captained by the same margin. Grade A-

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England’s summer of frustration does not augur for unique Ashes series | Ali Martin

One win in six Tests before an abrupt ending mean Joe Root’s side have more questions than answers as Australia tour looms

During the discussions that preceded the postponement of England’s one-day series in South Africa last December, Tom Harrison is said to have sent an email to Ashley Giles, with their South African counterparts still included on the chain, asking who exactly was running the tour.

It transpired the answer to this pointed question from the chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board to his director of cricket – albeit one unlikely to have been tapped out in reply – was their players. Covid-19 had breached the team hotel and, with fears over what this could mean for onward travel so close to Christmas, Eoin Morgan’s men simply downed tools.

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Woakes, Malan and Bairstow withdraw from IPL to prioritise England duty

  • Woakes is now expected to feature in T20 World Cup
  • Malan in England’s Ashes plans after impressing against India

Chris Woakes, Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow have withdrawn from the Indian Premier League, choosing to put England first before a busy winter that features the T20 World Cup and the Ashes.

The collapse of the fifth Test between England and India at Old Trafford will see players from both sides flying to the United Arab Emirates this weekend to begin a six-day quarantine before the IPL restarts on 19 September. But while Moeen Ali and Sam Curran are the two players from England’s most recent Test squad set to travel, Bairstow, Woakes and Malan have told their franchises they are no longer available. Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler had already withdrawn, while Jofra Archer is out until 2022 with an elbow injury.

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‘We had friends coming from India’: cancelled Test leaves fans devastated

Disappointed fans at Old Trafford react after the final Test between England and India was cancelled at the last minute

It was a perfect morning for bowling. An autumn sun squinting through milksop skies, a damp wind tickling the flags flying over the pavilion. But there were no bowlers, and there was no Test between England and India. Instead, the groundsmen stood in huddles over the playing surface, watering with abandon – and why not? There are no more matches at Old Trafford this season. In the concourses, the fans mulled over what might have been: swinging between bafflement, resignation and disappointment. Was it Covid? Was it the IPL? Was it the players?

Anup, here with friends, had travelled from Preston. “It’s a bit shocking, we were looking forward to this match for a long time. It is not an easy process to buy tickets. Once you get a ticket, it’s like winning the lottery, and then arranging a day off and all the other things. I’m heartbroken. The schools are open and if one child is Covid-positive, only one child is isolating, not the whole class, and I think that rule should apply here.

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England fight for India to return after Test called off amid Covid outbreak

  • Cloud of uncertainty hangs over result of Test series
  • ECB staring at a £40m financial black hole after decision

English cricket will fight to ensure India return for a one-off Test match that averts a £40m financial black hole after the series finale in Manchester was called off at the 11th hour in response to a Covid-19 outbreak among the tourists.

Senior officials at the England and Wales Cricket Board were privately fuming at the decision by India’s players to call off the much-anticipated fifth Test less than two hours before the toss, with nearly 90,000 ticket-holders now due a refund and the result of the series set to be decided by the International Cricket Council.

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Kohli intent on cementing legacy with series win for India in England | Ali Martin

Joe Root’s team must win at Old Trafford to draw the series but tourists have the edge despite another Covid scare

Australia’s cricketers partied long into the night on the outfield here two years ago. They had taken a 2-1 lead over England, retained the Ashes and, to empty stands and with beers in hand, gave a drawling rendition of True Blue by the folk singer John Williamson.

Tim Paine, their captain, looked to gee up his players before the subsequent fifth Test at the Oval, dubbing it their “Grand Final” in a nod to the other major codes back home. But what followed was the performance of a team that had experienced its moment a week earlier. England won, the series was drawn 2-2 and Cricket Australia’s fly-on-the-wall documentary did not get the final flourish its editors had hoped for.

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India players overcome Covid scare before fifth Test against England

  • Players clear emergency round of testing on Thursday
  • Fourth member of India staff had tested positive for virus

English cricket breathed a sigh of relief with news that India’s players have cleared an emergency round of Covid-19 testing and Friday’s fifth Test at Old Trafford should go ahead as planned.

Virat Kohli’s tourists, who sit 2-1 up with one to play, looking to secure their first series win in England since 2007, were forced to remain in their hotel rooms on Thursday and cancel their scheduled training session after a fourth member of their backroom staff tested positive for the virus.

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Jos Buttler: ‘I certainly haven’t played my best by a long stretch’ | Tanya Aldred

The England vice-captain has struggled with the bat but he insists his side can beat India in the fifth Test to level the series

Jos Buttler has no taste for revealing his innermost thoughts to a hungry press pack. So it was little wonder that he was cagey on his return to the Test team, after a match off to attend the birth of his second daughter, Maggie.

Buttler will take back the wicketkeeping gloves after Jonny Bairstow slipped into the caretaker role at the Oval – generally going about his business unobtrusively, but dropping Shardul Thakur in the first innings on 43.

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Tymal Mills earns England T20 World Cup squad place after four-year absence

  • Sussex fast bowler gets chance owing to Jofra Archer injury
  • Stokes continues to take indefinite break from all cricket

The Sussex fast bowler Tymal Mills returns to the international setup for the first time in four years in the England T20 Men’s World Cup squad announced on Thursday. Mills gets his chance with Jofra Archer ruled out by injury, while Ben Stokes continues to take an indefinite break from all cricket to prioritise his mental wellbeing.

Mills has been impressive this summer in the Vitality T20 Blast, where he has helped Sussex reach finals day at Edgbaston later this month. He also showcased his skills will great accomplishment in the Hundred, helping Southern Brave lift the men’s trophy in the tournament’s inaugural year. Mills’s last England appearance came in a T20 defeat to India in Bengaluru in February 2017.

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Root calls for Buttler but serving up a win could be hindered by burnout | Andy Bull

Captain has got plenty to ponder heading into England’s final Test against India and wants Test cricket to be a priority

Here’s one thing Joe Root is certain about – Jos Buttler will be back in the England team as wicketkeeper and vice-captain for the fifth Test at Old Trafford. Beyond that, Root has got plenty to ponder: about the make-up of his bowling attack, whether England ought to rest either Jimmy Anderson or Ollie Robinson, if they should pick Jack Leach as a second spinner alongside Moeen Ali, what Buttler’s return means for the men who covered for him, Jonny Bairstow and Ollie Pope, if there’s anything he can do to help fix his rickety slip cordon, and when, exactly, one of his middle order is going to give him some proper support by scoring a century.

Between them, Robinson and Anderson have already bowled 330 overs in this series, the other seven bowlers England have used have only got through another 354. And while Root was confident both were fit, he was cagey about whether that meant they would both play. “You never want to go into a Test match playing someone under risk of injury.”

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