England captain Joe Root slams squad bubble system amid Ashes withdrawal fears

The participation of key England players in this winter's Ashes tour of Australia is still in doubt, according to skipper Joe Root.

England captain Root has suggested that members of the squad could withdraw from the eagerly-anticipated series, as concerns over the players’ mental well-being in bubble environments continue to grow.

While the Ashes is still expected to go ahead, concerns are growing among pundits and broadcasters that, if a number of key players pull out, a second-string side could be used instead.

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England captain Joe Root slams squad bubble system amid Ashes withdrawal fears

At a glance: 5 key points

- England players have already held discussions with the ECB over travel arrangements for this winter’s Ashes series.

- Star man Ben Stokes has taken an indefinite break from cricket for mental health reasons.

- Skipper Joe Root has bemoaned “the cost” of extended time spend in isolated team bubbles, and claimed a decision will be made “over the coming weeks”

- Due to tight restrictions, the travelling England party could be stopped from bringing family members with them to Australia.

- Last week, the Australian government brought in their military to enforce Sydney's lockdown following a rapid rise in Covid-19 cases.

What’s been said

Joe Root told BBC Sport: “Every single player as a kid, they want to go Australia; they want to win the Ashes; they want to lift the urn out there.

"We're all desperate to go and do that - it's just to what cost, and what environment we're going to be living in off the back of 18 months of being in these bubbled environments.

"We need to work closely with the ECB so they can be very aware of where we're at, and they can have good, honest conversations with Cricket Australia.

"Once we know where we stand, what it's going to look like, then we'll make a decision. We'll have to see how things unfold over the coming weeks."

Background

Ahead of tomorrow’s first Test match in a series against India, England’s players – a number of whom have been involved in the new The Hundred competition - are back in a team bubble, which restricts them to their team hotel in Nottingham.

The side, in various formats of the game, have spent much of the past 12 months away from their families, in a particularly busy period that has included tours of India and Sri Lanka, with a hectic autumn – the T20 World Cup begins in October – and winter still to come.

The conversation over the impact of bubbled environments on sports stars has intensified this week, following Ben Stoke’s decision to take an indefinite break from the game for mental health reasons.

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