Tim Paine says the Ashes will go ahead as scheduled regardless of whether Joe Root and other key England players travel to Australia.

Root this week stated that he is "desperate" to do battle with fierce rivals Australia, but the England captain is not ready to commit to the tour until there is more clarity over coronavirus restrictions.

Jos Buttler is among the other England players who have made it clear they may pull out if their families are not allowed to head to Australia.

Talks between Cricket Australia and the England and Wales Cricket Board over what protocols may be in place are ongoing, with players having already spent long periods in bio-secure bubbles at home and overseas.

Skipper Paine says he will lead his side out at The Gabba on December 8 come what may.

"The Ashes are going ahead - the first Test is on December 8 whether Joe's here or not," the wicketkeeper told SEN Hobart.

"They all want to come, there's no doubt about it.

"They're trying to get themselves the best possible conditions they can, but at the end of the day, we all are.

"It will be worked out above us and then they'll make a decision whether or not they'll get on that plane. There will be a squad of England players coming here for the first Test on December 8th."

Australia prime minister Scott Morrison last month warned England will not benefit from any "special deals" regarding quarantine rules when they arrive in the country.

Gareth Southgate is cautious of overusing Jude Bellingham and Mason Greenwood and has left the young pair out of England's squad for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

Bellingham and Greenwood were high-profile omissions from the 23-man group named by Southgate on Thursday, along with injured defenders Trent Alexander-Arnold and Harry Maguire.

Borussia Dortmund midfielder Bellingham has started all 10 games at club level this season and played an hour for England in their 4-0 win over Andorra earlier this month.

Greenwood has been used regularly by Manchester United this term, meanwhile, starting seven times and featuring from the bench on one occasion.

Bellingham's 802 minutes of playing time this term is the most of any England-qualified player in Europe's top five leagues when taking all competitions into account, while Greenwood's 634 minutes is the fourth-most of any United player.

Speaking at a news conference after announcing his squad on Thursday, Southgate said: "They're both in similar situations, young players with heavy workloads at the moment.

"I've spoken to both of them. Jude at the moment is playing a high level of matches with Champions League games, league games. As an 18-year-old he had a full season last season and then into the Euros with no break.

"We have to remember these lads are still physically growing, so when we talk about young player development we have to be really careful in how we handle them.

"These are two players we think can be really exciting for England's future. We don't want to overload them, we want to make sure we are making the right decisions with them."

With Maguire missing out through injury, Milan centre-back Fikayo Tomori has been called up nearly two years since earning his one and only cap against Kosovo.

Tomori has helped Milan to nine clean sheets in Serie A since arriving at San Siro from Chelsea in January on an initial loan deal that has since been made permanent, a tally that has been bettered by only three others.

He also ranks 11th for successful passes among defenders in the Italian top flight over that period, which played a part in Southgate's decision to recall the 23-year-old.

"I like Fikayo in terms of his aggressiveness of defending," Southgate said. "Because he's got speed he's confident enough to defend on the front foot and he's improving on the ball as well.

"I have been very impressed. I thought he finished last season well. We were tracking him well last season and he is playing well this season. 

"He is at a club that's expected to win every week. I thought he did well against Liverpool and Juventus recently."

Reece James and Mason Mount have also been selected for the games with Andorra and Hungary over the next fortnight, despite missing Chelsea's 1-0 loss to Juventus in the Champions League on Wednesday as they continue to recover from injury.

Southgate explained: "They're clearly still to have appeared for their clubs so there's an unknown, but our understanding is Mason and Reece have a good chance for the weekend."

 

The other big news to come out of Southgate's penultimate squad selection of a memorable 2021 was the inclusion of Ollie Watkins and Aaron Ramsdale, the pair replacing Patrick Bamford and Nick Pope, respectively.

Ramsdale has made a positive start to life at Arsenal since ousting Bernd Leno as number one, his save percentage of 91.67 the second-best return of any keeper to have played at least three times for a team in Europe's top five leagues this term.

"Aaron was with us all summer and we had the opportunity to work with him for a long time and get to understand his strengths," Southgate said.

"Nick is still I think coming back from injury a little bit, but I think Aaron is just in a better vein of form at the moment.

"From Aaron's perspective, the move to a bigger club with higher expectations and a style of play where he is asked to build with his feet from the back, he's coping really well.

"I think that's an important factor for us when looking at the biggest matches, having a goalkeeper who has really adapted well to a move and is full of confidence."

 

England squad:

Sam Johnstone (West Brom), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal); Conor Coady (Wolves), Reece James (Chelsea), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Fikayo Tomori (Milan), Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid), Kyle Walker (Manchester City); Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United), Declan Rice (West Ham); Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Jadon Sancho (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa).

Khadija 'Bunny' Shaw scored her first hat-trick for Manchester City on Wednesday to propel the team into the semi-finals of the Women’s FA Cup where they will face Chelsea on October 31.

Leonardo Bonucci has continued to rub salt into the wounds of England after Italy's success in the Euro 2020 final, saying Declan Rice played a part in motivating the tournament winners.

West Ham midfielder Rice said ahead of the final in July that England would be 10 times more ready than their opponents for the Wembley showpiece.

Those words, and the repetitive playing of England's Three Lions song after the country's semi-final win over Denmark, fuelled Bonucci and his team-mates, who ultimately won the competition on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

"We didn't pay much attention to it [the Three Lions song] until the Spain game," Bonucci, who ridiculed England's 'It's Coming Home' catchphrase on the pitch after Italy's win, said in an interview with The Athletic.

"Then the anger inside of us began to mount. We wanted to show them that the final hadn't already been decided. That they hadn't already won. 

"Hearing that song on repeat and the comment from Declan Rice saying England were 10 times more motivated to win than us – well, they're the kind of mistakes young players make. 

"You don't say that. You should never say you want something more than somebody else, or you're better than somebody else.

"You should always put yourself on the same level as your opponent, keep a low profile and strike at the right moment. That's what we did."

 

Italy also won their semi-final against Spain on penalties, and Bonucci felt Roberto Mancini's men had the right mix of confidence and humility.

The Juventus defender added: "We never said we were going to win, just that we were an inch away from going all the way and getting the right result.

"We were never presumptuous about it. We stayed humble and that's what made the difference.

"We had a great team, a great coach and a great staff behind us. To give our country and ourselves that kind of joy was something truly special."

The Jamaica Sunshine Girls are set to take on England in a three-match series dubbed the ‘Vitality Roses Reunited’ set for London, in November.

The teams were originally set to face-off in a series in January but that was postponed due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and strict travel restrictions.  The upcoming series will still be subject to Covid-19 travel restrictions but will be played in front of a maximum capacity stadium, with measures regarding crowd sizes eased in England.

The series will help both teams begin preparations for the next year’s Commonwealth Games, which will take part in Birmingham, England next year.  The Jamaicans have not played in an official international competition since the World Netball Cup in 2020.

The series is set to tip-off on November 28th at the Copper Box Arena, before moving on to the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham, with consecutive games on December 4 and December 5.

England's travelling party for the Ashes will not benefit from any "special deals" regarding quarantine rules when they arrive in Australia, according to the country's prime minister Scott Morrison.

The first Test of England's tour of Australia begins on December 8, though it has been reported that a host of players are considering withdrawing from travelling.

This would be due to the strict COVID-19 protocols in place for travellers arriving in Australia, with new arrivals having to undergo a mandatory isolation period in a hotel.

Earlier this year, tennis stars such as Novak Djokovic had to spend up to two weeks in their hotel rooms prior to taking part in the Australian Open.

Australia do plan to ease those restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers, but only once 80 per cent of the nation's adult population have received both doses.

Prime minister Morrison says that figure will hit 50 per cent this week, while he discussed the matter with United Kingdom counterpart Boris Johnson in Washington D.C.

However, he insisted England's squad would have no special arrangements made for them.

"I would love to see the Ashes go ahead, as I shared with Boris last night," Morrison said, as reported by BBC Sport.

"But there's no special deals there, because what we're looking to have is vaccinated people being able to travel.

"I don't see a great deal of difference in skilled workers or students who will be able to come to Australia when you reach those vaccination rates.

"Those who are coming for that purpose when it comes to their profession, which is playing cricket, I don't see the difference between that and someone who's coming as a skilled, qualified engineer or someone who's coming to be ready for study."

Cricket Australia is set to provide details around the travel and quarantine arrangements for the tour to the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) this week. 

England players will then be able to make decisions on whether they wish to be included in. the squad, which will be announced in early October. 

Prime minister Johnson said: "I raised it and he said he was going to do his best for the families. He merely undertook to come back and see if he could find a solution."

Hungary have been ordered to play two home games, one suspended for two years, behind closed doors following the racial abuse of England players during their World Cup qualifier.

A 4-0 thrashing by Gareth Southgate's side in early September was overshadowed by reports of racial abuse directed at Raheem Sterling and Jude Bellingham by the home fans.

Objects were seen flying in Sterling's direction after his opener, with alleged monkey chants also coming from inside the Puskas Arena, as England coasted to victory.

FIFA's Disciplinary Committee has also issued the Hungarian Football Federation (MLSZ) a fine of 200,000 Swiss francs (£158,000), with a qualifier against Albania on October 9 the game that will be played without spectators in Budapest.

A suspended penalty of a second game was imposed by the world's governing body for a probationary period of two years.

"After analysing and taking into consideration all the circumstances of the case, specifically the seriousness of the incidents (racist words and actions, throwing of objects, lighting of fireworks, blocked stairways), the Committee decided that the MLSZ would play its next two home matches in FIFA competitions without spectators, the second match being suspended for a probationary period of two years," a FIFA statement released on Tuesday read.

"FIFA's position remains firm and resolute in rejecting any form of racism and violence as well as any other form of discrimination or abuse. FIFA takes a clear zero tolerance stance against such abhorrent behaviour in football."

This is not the first time Hungary have been punished by football's governing bodies. In July, Hungary were ordered to play three UEFA home competition matches without supporters after incidents of racism and homophobia at Euro 2020.

The ban applies only to UEFA competitions and so will not come into effect until the next edition of the Nations League, which will be held between June and September 2022.

Eddie Jones has left experienced quartet Billy and Mako Vunipola, Jamie George and George Ford out of England's 45-man squad for this month's training camp.

Eight uncapped players – Mark Atkinson, Jack Kenningham, Louis Lynagh, Gabriel Oghre, Raffi Quirke, Sam Riley, Bevan Rodd and Ollie Sleightholme – have been selected.

The large group also contains nine players who made their debuts for England in their last batch of fixtures, including Jamie Blamire, Trevor Davison and Alex Dombrandt.

There are also recalls for Ben Youngs, Manu Tuilagi and Joe Marler, as well as England's 10-strong British and Irish Lions contingent.

Despite overlooking the Vunipola brothers, George and Ford, Jones insists the door will remain open for all four players.

"This is an exciting squad made up of experienced players and young guys who did well in the summer and have earned their place again," Jones said on Tuesday.

"We have left out some experienced players but we're really clear the door isn't closed to them, and we're looking forward to seeing them work hard to get back into contention."

England's training camp will run from Sunday 26 until Tuesday 28 and forms part of their preparations for the internationals against Tonga, Australia and South Africa in November.

 

England's 45-man training squad

Forwards: Jamie Blamire (Newcastle), Callum Chick (Newcastle), Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter), Tom Curry (Sale), Trevor Davison (Newcastle), Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins), Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins), Charlie Ewels (Bath), Ellis Genge (Leicester), Joe Heyes (Leicester), Jonny Hill (Exeter), Ted Hill (Worcester), Maro Itoje (Saracens), Jack Kenningham (Harlequins), Courtney Lawes (Northampton), Lewis Ludlam (Northampton), Lewis Ludlow (Gloucester), Joe Marler (Harlequins), George Martin (Leicester), Beno Obano (Bath), Gabriel Oghre (Wasps), Sam Riley (Harlequins), Bevan Rodd (Sale), Sam Simmonds (Exeter), Kyle Sinckler (Bristol), Will Stuart (Bath), Sam Underhill (Bath).

Backs: Mark Atkinson (Gloucester), Owen Farrell (Saracens), George Furbank (Northampton), Ollie Lawrence (Worcester), Louis Lynagh (Harlequins), Max Malins (Saracens), Joe Marchant (Harlequins), Jonny May (Gloucester), Raffi Quirke (Sale), Adam Radwan (Newcastle), Harry Randall (Bristol), Dan Robson (Wasps), Henry Slade (Exeter), Ollie Sleightholme (Northampton), Marcus Smith (Harlequins), Freddie Steward (Leicester), Manu Tuilagi (Sale), Anthony Watson (Bath), Ben Youngs (Leicester).

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has confirmed the men's and women's teams will not travel to Pakistan for scheduled tours in October. 

England had been due to play two warm-up matches ahead of the men's T20 World Cup, with the women's team also set to play a double-header in the shortest format, followed by three one-day fixtures. 

However, following New Zealand's decision to withdraw from a white-ball series in Pakistan due to security concerns, the ECB has announced the upcoming tours will not now take place as planned. 

A statement released on Monday explained that "the mental and physical well-being of our players and support staff" remained the governing body's highest priority. 

The statement read: "The ECB has a longstanding commitment to tour Pakistan as part of the Men's Future Tours Programme in 2022. 

"Earlier this year, we agreed to play two additional T20 World Cup warm-up games in Pakistan in October, adding a short women's tour with double headers alongside the men's games. 

"The ECB board convened this weekend to discuss these extra England women's and men's games in Pakistan and we can confirm that the board has reluctantly decided to withdraw both teams from the October trip. 

"There is the added complexity for our men's T20 squad. We believe that touring under these conditions will not be ideal preparation for the ICC men's T20 World Cup, where performing well remains a top priority for 2021. 

"We understand that this decision will be a significant disappointment to the PCB, who have worked tirelessly to host the return of international cricket in their country. Their support of English and Welsh cricket over the last two summers has been a huge demonstration of friendship. 

"We are sincerely sorry for the impact this will have on cricket in Pakistan and emphasise an ongoing commitment to our main touring plans there for 2022." 

Pakistan did not host international cricket for six years following the attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in 2009. 

Friday's decision by New Zealand Cricket to pull out of the ODI and T20I series just hours before the start of the opening match was met with disappointment from the Pakistan Cricket Board. 

PCB chairman Ramiz Raja used social media to convey his sorrow at England "failing a member of their cricket fraternity when it needed it most" following the latest development in the situation.

"Disappointed with England, pulling out of their commitment and failing a member of their cricket fraternity when it needed it most," he posted on Twitter.  

"Survive we will inshallah. A wake-up call for Pakistan team to become the best team in the world for teams to line up to play them without making excuses."

England could follow New Zealand in cancelling their cricket tour to Pakistan amid new security concerns about visiting the country.

The England men's and women's teams are due to face Pakistan next month, with Eoin Morgan's side set for a two-match T20I series starting on October 13.

However, New Zealand's series against Pakistan was called off on Friday amid growing worries over player safety, and England are now assessing the situation.

The England and Wales Cricket Board said in a statement: "We're aware of New Zealand's decision to pull out of the Pakistan tour due to a security alert.

"We are liaising with our security team who are on the ground in Pakistan to fully understand the situation.

"The ECB board will then decide in the next 24-48 hours whether our planned tour should proceed."

Friday's decision by New Zealand Cricket to pull the ODI and T20I series, hours before the first match was due to be played, was met with disappointment from the Pakistan Cricket Board.

Pakistan captain Babar Azam echoed the PCB's sentiments, indicating that he trusted the security services would have ensured it took place in safe conditions.

"Extremely disappointed on the abrupt postponement of the series, which could have brought the smiles back for millions of Pakistan cricket fans," Babar wrote on Twitter.

"I've full trust in the capabilities and credibility of our security agencies. They are our pride and always will be! Pakistan Zindabad!"

European champions Italy are on a world record 37-game unbeaten streak, but they remain lodged at number five in the FIFA rankings.

The world governing body published its new list on Thursday and the only change in the top five saw England jump to third, nudging France down to fourth.

England were runners-up to Italy in the Euro 2020 final, losing on penalties at Wembley after a 1-1 draw, and two wins and a draw from World Cup qualifiers in September have seen Gareth Southgate's team edge ahead of Les Bleus.

It is the first time since 2012 that England have reached the top three, and third place remains the highest position they have achieved in the rankings.

Didier Deschamps' France could only manage two draws and a win in this month's international break, while Italy were held by Bulgaria and Switzerland before landing a 5-0 victory over Lithuania.

Italy have been a roaring success under the leadership of Roberto Mancini, who inherited a team that failed to qualify for the last World Cup and had plummeted to 21st in FIFA's rankings.

They set the record for the most games unbeaten at international level during their run of September games, staying in control as leaders of World Cup European qualifying Group C.

With FIFA's rankings offering significant weighting to World Cup tournament performance, Italy could make a significant leap should their strong form under coach Mancini continue into the Qatar 2022 finals.

Belgium remain top of the FIFA list, with Brazil in second. Copa America winners Argentina stay sixth.

 

Pace trio Andel Gordon, Johann Layne, and Isai Thorne bowled superbly to push the fifth Youth ODI down to the wire, despite West Indies surrendering the Royal London U19 series to England on Tuesday.

This was the second agonizing one-wicket defeat in the series, following a similar result on the second Youth ODI in Beckenham.

Left-arm quick Gordon, who claimed 3 for 37, stood out bowling with good pace and swing, highlighted by his dismissal of England opener William Luxton, clean bowled in the first over. He was well supported by his right-arm pace duo compatriots Layne, 3 for 40, and Isai Thorne, 2 for 40, as they kept West Indies in the contest by regularly taking wickets.

When Layne dismissed tail end batters Nathan Barnwell caught behind and Joshua Boyden comprehensively bowled in the space of two overs, West Indies were on the verge of pulling off a thrilling fightback win with England still needing 12 runs. However, George Bell, who had an unbeaten half-century of 60 from 115 balls, held his nerve alongside the number 11 batter Sonny Baker to take the home side over the line.

Earlier, Matthew Nandu (51) became the second West Indies batsman to score a half-century on tour alongside Teddy Bishop. His 57-run third-wicket partnership with Ackeem Auguste 32 had West Indies solidly placed at one stage on 101 for 2. But the innings never kicked on, with captain on the day Giovonte Depeiza (34) being the only other major contributor.

The two teams will return to the same venue on Friday for the series finale. First ball is 10:30 am (5:30 Eastern Caribbean/4:30 am Jamaica).

 

Australia Test captain Tim Paine will undergo neck surgery this week but expects to return in time for The Ashes in December.

A pinched nerve in his neck had caused problems in pre-season with Tasmania and the wicket-keeper has chosen to undertake surgery in Hobart on Tuesday.

The first Ashes Test starts in December in Brisbane, but Paine is estimated to be back to light training by the end of September, resume full training the following month and complete his recovery by the start of November.

"The consensus of the spinal surgeon and the CA medical team was to have the surgery now which will allow plenty of time to fully prepare for the summer," Paine said in a statement released by Cricket Australia.

"I expect to be able to restart physical activity by the end of this month and be back in full training in October.

"I will be ready to go by the first Test and am very much looking forward to what will be a huge summer."

Paine, whose finger injuries almost forced him into an early retirement in 2016, averages just 28.61 against England – making just two 50s in 16 innings – but has lifted the urn twice.

The 36-year-old was a part of the side that thrashed England 4-0 in the home 2017-18 series before a 2-2 away draw in 2019 saw his side retain The Ashes.

Australia have only played four Tests in the last 18 months but Paine also gave his backing to cancel November's Test against Afghanistan due to the Taliban's stance that women will not play cricket during their ruling.

Following Cricket Australia stating there was "no alternative" but to cancel the maiden Test, Paine added to SEN Radio last week: "I don't think we want to be associated with countries that are taking opportunities or things off literally half their population."

Fabio Capello claimed former side England have a "monkey on their back and then fail" when it comes to finals.

Gareth Southgate's men reached their first major final in 55 years at Euro 2020, but lost on penalties as Italy claimed their first European Championship since 1968.

England have enjoyed relative success in September's World Cup qualifiers, crushing Hungary and Andorra 4-0 before conceding a late equaliser to draw 1-1 with Poland.

In the latter game, Southgate opted to not make any substitutions – the first time the Three Lions have done so since the Euro 1996 semi-final against Germany.

And Capello believes there is a reason for the England manager's lack of substitutes in Warsaw after heartbreak in the Euro 2020 final two months ago.

"If [Southgate] doesn't make subs it means he wants this group to be convinced to be strong, as the results proved," Capello, who managed England for five years until 2012, told reporters.

"Bear in mind, they have just botched half a match versus Italy in the final, when they were overwhelmed by fear and stopped playing.

"I know England and their problems. They have that monkey on their back to get to the final and then they fail."

England are unbeaten in their last 16 international matches (W13 D3) – their longest streak without defeat since a 16-game run between September 1995 and November 1996.

While international teams pursue qualification for Qatar 2022, FIFA's chief of global football development, Arsene Wenger, is pushing a biennial plan for future World Cups.

The former Arsenal manager's proposition, which was put to FIFA in May, would see global football's most important tournament switch to a two-year cycle.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin greeted the suggestions with disdain, but Capello revealed he would support the proposed changes as a player.

"As a player, I would like the World Cup to be played every two years," the 75-year-old Italian continued.

"Four years is a long time and sometimes you are at the top of your game but when the World Cup comes you are not and you have no chance to shine.

"At the same time, waiting four years makes that trophy more coveted and important, it is bigger.

"Every two years, this value would decrease but again, as a player, I played the World Cup just once, and the second time I missed it for the width of a hair, so I would [play every two years]."

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is working with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to reschedule the fifth Test after it was called off due to coronavirus fears.

The final match in the series at Old Trafford, which India lead 2-1, was cancelled a little over two hours before the first day of action was due to begin at 11:00 BST as India felt they were unable to field a team.

India head coach Ravi Shastri tested positive for COVID-19 during the fourth Test victory at The Oval and has been isolating along with backroom staff members Bharat Arun, R Sridhar and Nitin Patel.

Another member of the tourists' camp, reported to be a junior physio, was next to test positive on Thursday, forcing India to cancel their training session on the eve of the match 

Despite each member of the India squad returning negative PCR tests on Thursday, the decision was taken to call off the fifth Test to prevent the respiratory disease from further spreading.

In a statement published on Friday, the ECB initially said that India had forfeited the Test and the series was therefore drawn at 2-2, but they later clarified that was not the case.

The BCCI has now stated the call to cancel the contest was a joint decision and the governing body is working closely with the ECB to find a window to reschedule the final Test.

"The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) along with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have jointly decided to call off the fifth Test match scheduled at Manchester in India's tour of England 2021," the statement read.

"The BCCI and ECB held several rounds of discussion to find a way to play the Test match, however, the outbreak of Covid-19 in the Indian team contingent forced the decision of calling off the Old Trafford Test match.

"In lieu of the strong relationship between BCCI and ECB, the BCCI has offered to ECB a rescheduling of the cancelled Test match. Both the Boards will work towards finding a window to reschedule this Test match.

"The BCCI has always maintained that the safety and well-being of the players is of paramount importance and there will be no compromise on that aspect. 

"The BCCI would like to thank the ECB for their co-operation and understanding in these trying times. We would like to apologise to the fans for not being able to complete an enthralling series."

Any prospect of rescheduling the match during the current tour seems unlikely as the Indian Premier League resumes in the United Arab Emirates on September 19.

England are already due to host India next year across three T20Is and three ODIs, including a T20 fixture in Manchester on July 1.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.