England v Australia T20Is - Men's
British PM puts fresh doubt on Aussies' UK white-ball tour
Uncertainty over potential winter tour to play limited-overs games against England remains after Boris Johnson ruled out a return for pro sport anytime soon
Cricket Network with AAP
11 May 2020, 08:05 AM AEST
Hopes of Australia's white-ball tour of England taking place this winter have been clouded with fresh uncertainty after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the brakes on any imminent return for professional sport in the country.
In a TV address on Sunday, Johnson said the coronavirus transmission rate was still too high to significantly ease the lockdown.
Sport in the UK has been at a standstill for almost two months while the government's official reported death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic approached 32,000, the second highest in the world behind the United States.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has already postponed the launch of The Hundred competition until next year and tentatively pencilled in a July 1 return for the County Championship.
Australia have been scheduled to meet Scotland in a T20 on June 29 before playing three T20s and three ODIs against the 50-over World Cup holders England from July 3-16.
But discussions have taken place with Cricket Australia about the matches potentially being played in early September.
"We want to encourage more and even unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise," said Johnson.
"You can sit in the sun in your local park, you can drive to other destinations, you can even play sports but only with members of your own households."
Further details about England's lockdown are expected in guidance to be published on Monday but the message would seem to rule out the prospect of professional athletes going back to training anytime soon.
Australia batsman David Warner conceded late last month that the UK tour was "highly unlikely".
"At the moment it's highly unlikely we're going to go over there given what's happened in England," Warner told cricket.com.au on March 28, citing the COVID-19 infection to Johnson as an indicator of the seriousness of the problem there.
"He's back up on his feet now and that's fantastic news, but there's a lot more to this than just sport being played," Warner added.
"The biggest picture is making sure we're doing all the right things we can to flatten this curve and doing what we can do to play our bit in that.
"We've done a great job so far and all Australians should be credited."
Australia has already seen a two-Test tour of Bangladesh that had been scheduled for June called off, while a planned limited-overs home series against Zimbabwe in August is also unlikely to proceed.
The ECB has suspended all cricket in the country until at least July 1, meaning England's Test series with the West Indies set for June has already been rescheduled.
The ECB chief executive Tom Harrison has said any further delays to their season starting would likely mean "losing cricket rather than rescheduling" with England also hoping to play Tests and T20s against Pakistan and ODIs against Ireland in their season.