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Sport STUART BROAD: Would I get on the plane to Oz? Yes but we need answers

02:25  19 september  2021
02:25  19 september  2021 Source:   dailymail.co.uk

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My entire focus at the moment is getting myself ready physically for what I am resigned to being the most unusual of Ashes tours.

There is obviously a lot going on at executive level to negotiate acceptable arrangements for the England team and my message to our bosses at the ECB is simple: Give us the best possible chance to be mentally strong come January with the environment that is created.

Let's try to make it as comfortable as possible for us because if you go somewhere like Australia and have to bunker down, you won't enjoy being in one of the greatest places on earth — and aren't going to win at cricket either.

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It is now just a couple of weeks away from a squad being selected but players can't sign up to something unless they know what they are signing up for.

If you ask me if I would be happy to get on a plane to Australia in November, I would say yes. I am working tirelessly to get there. I don't feel there will be a postponement. In my mind, it is 100 per cent clear that an England team of some description will embark on the tour.

But if another player called me and told me they couldn't commit, I would totally accept it.

Everyone has to make their own decision and Ashley Giles, England's director of cricket, has made it clear a player's chances of selection in the future will not be harmed if they opt out in these circumstances.

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The ECB have tried to keep us as informed as possible with the information that they are getting from Cricket Australia. It's just that minimal detail has been available. I don't think anyone can say hand on heart that we won't be living in a bubble out there and that will be extremely challenging.

Over my career, I've played three or four Test matches with flu or heavy colds, and you can get through, but with Covid it rules you out completely.

Catch it during the second Test of five say, and you will most likely miss the rest of the series given the length of isolation period required and the time then needed to build up match fitness.

I've been living in a way that is designed to minimise the chances of me catching Covid but there has to be a sensible balance. For example, I naturally wouldn't go to an Ed Sheeran concert at the MCG but it shouldn't stop me being able to play a round of golf.

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We've lived in bubbles where we haven't been allowed outside our rooms. In India last winter, we couldn't even go to hotel reception for a coffee. But I would hope Australia would be less restrictive.

Remember, the weather there is fantastic so if you are allowed to go out and eat in a restaurant, and you could eat outside, you'd probably do that every night of the trip.

With the situation Australia is in — with their own citizens struggling to get into the country — I am not thinking we will just be able to fly in with no quarantining, as if we are living a normal life, because the world is not a normal place at the moment.

But what will our quarantine look like? You cannot expect an elite sports team to sit in hotel rooms for 14 days and then expect players to go out and play again at a high intensity.

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If you went straight back into training like that there would be a very high risk of injury. It would be a nightmare scenario for someone going through a calf rehabilitation as I have.

We need to be in a situation where we are allowed to train for between two and three hours a day. An international bowler rarely goes two weeks in a year without bowling.

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This is the biggest series you can play and England have won just twice away from home in 50 years. There has to be some give and take because we are not just going on holiday. We are flying in to compete at high-level sport.

It's the sort of tour that you want your parents and partners to come on. It's abnormal to go away for such a long period of time, to play in the kind of games some people play once in a lifetime, and not be able to share them or Christmas and New Year with your family.

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Personally, because my fiancee Mollie works, I am already resigned to the fact that she cannot be with me at any point — because by the time she has completed two weeks of quarantine she will have to be back on the radio.

But I am in a fortunate position because Mollie is extremely understanding regarding my job, we don't have children, and I am 35 so these opportunities won't come around too often.

That's why I am committed to going. It's a very different scenario if you are away from the start of the Indian Premier League this weekend or if you have kids.

We have seen the pressures of being away from home for a long period of time most recently with India returning zero positive Covid tests within their group but still feeling anxious enough to not play a Test match. I get that.

I am certainly not going to preach that what they did was wrong because I remember how I felt for the last Test match in Ahmedabad, having been locked away for 10 weeks in hotel rooms.

We'd not seen other human beings, been kept away from our families, had slow wi-fi and couldn't even stream Netflix.

By the end of it we were worn down and the thought of then potentially catching the virus during those final few days of the tour — and having to spend another fortnight locked away — made me feel quite unstable.

I know Michael Vaughan was quite vociferous, saying India's decision was all about the IPL riches — and I am not saying it didn't play its part — but I can understand them panicking so close to their flights out.

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