Chris Woakes on Monday hit back at suggestions England’s cricketers were ducking the challenge of an Ashes tour to Australia over concerns about strict coronavirus quarantine restrictions.
The England and Wales Cricket Board named a strong squad on Sunday for the tour “Down Under” starting on December 8, after agreeing “conditional approval” with the players to proceed.
There were fears the Ashes would be cancelled after months of concern over tough Covid-19 quarantine guidelines which England’s players and their families will have to follow in Australia.
England legend Ian Botham claimed some players “don’t fancy the ultimate test”.
However, Woakes rejected those suggestions and spelled out the impact of living in biosecure bubbles International cricketers have been forced to cope with restrictions to daily life, often in hotels for months, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“There was never too much doubt that everyone was keen to go and play,” the 32-year-old told reporters.
“People want security around what life is going to be like once we are there. I don’t think there’s any hiding behind Covid.
“We would be chomping at the bit. There are a group of players in the England team with an opportunity to go to Australia and hopefully win an Ashes series. That’s huge. It’s still the pinnacle and everybody knows that.”
Woakes added he is yet to decide whether to travel with his young family to Australia, with the possibility of a 14-day quarantine on arrival and limited contact with their loved ones between matches.
For the next month, the all-rounder’s focus is on the T20 World Cup, which starts later in October in the United Arab Emirates and Oman.
“We have a big World Cup in front of us. You don’t want to get to the end of the World Cup and think, ‘I wasn’t fully engaged’,” he added.
“It is a great opportunity to lift some silverware for your country and this T20 World Cup could pretty much be won by anyone.
“That is what is so exciting and it will be a great tournament to be part of. The Ashes stuff will have to be parked — we have to give this our full attention.”