Vodafone Men's Ashes
Labuschagne hoping for full-strength England in the Ashes
Star batsmen confident an agreement can be reached for England's leading players to travel to Australia for the Ashes this summer
2 September 2021, 07:21 AM AEST
Marnus Labuschagne admits England's concerns about travelling to Australia for this summer's Vodafone Ashes have merit, but the star batsman expects a resolution will ensure he confronts a full-strength opposition.
Australia's strict border policy is unlikely to be drastically eased by the end of this year, while interstate travel also remains clouded by COVID-19.
England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler has made it clear he would likely opt out of touring Australia if his family aren’t able to travel or are forced into hard quarantine, while captain Joe Root noted he is waiting for more information.
The issue has been bubbling away in recent months, during which Cricket Australia (CA) has been in talks with state and federal governments.
England superstar Ben Stokes has already taken an indefinite break from the sport, with CA and its English counterpart both worried about the impact of biosecurity bubbles on players' mental health.
Labuschagne couldn't recall discussing the issue with Root and veteran paceman Jimmy Anderson, whom he crossed paths with while playing county cricket this year.
But he understood the tourists' unease.
"The welfare of players and making sure families can come out here is important," Labuschagne said at the launch of Play Cricket month in Brisbane.
"You don't need to be a cricketer to recognise the importance of making sure the mental health of all players is in a good space.
"Especially with a Twenty20 World Cup followed by an Ashes, it's a really long four or five months.
"But I have no doubt, between the government and Cricket Australia, we'll be able to sort it out and get ourselves in a position where we can have a full-strength England against a full-strength Australia."
Injured spearhead Jofra Archer is already a confirmed omission for the series but Labuschagne, steeled for his first home Ashes series, is keen to lock horns with 39-year-old Anderson.
"Everyone out here wants to see Jimmy come to Australia," he said.
The future of coach Justin Langer was a topic of intense speculation in recent weeks, but players have seemingly agreed to move on, and Langer has received public support from CA CEO, Nick Hockley as well as Test skipper, Tim Paine.
Labuschagne, who has gone from strength to strength under Langer since being thrust into the 2019 Lord's Ashes Test as a concussion substitute, is looking to move on.
"It's been spoken about, that it comes to a head now. Conversations have been had, we can all move forward," he said.
Labuschagne remained upbeat that Australia's one-off Test against Afghanistan in Hobart will proceed as planned despite the recent political upheaval in that country.
It shapes as Australia's first Test since losing to India in January.
"We all want more Test cricket, Labuschagne said.
"That's not always possible."
Vodafone Men's Ashes v England
First Test: December 8-12, The Gabba
Second Test: December 16-20, Adelaide Oval
Third Test: December 26-30, MCG
Fourth Test: January 5-9, SCG
Fifth Test: January 14-18, Perth Stadium