Tom Harrison says ECB 'working closely with Cricket Australia' to ensure Ashes goes ahead
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fairly difficult
ECB chief reiterates importance of player welfare with Australia's Covid rules possibly preventing families on tour
Tom Harrison , the ECB chief executive, says that England and Australia will use every diplomatic channel available to ensure that this winter's Ashes can go ahead as planned, in spite of the players' fears that their families may not be permitted to travel due to Australia's stringent Covid-19 restrictions.

The prospect of a postponed Ashes tour has become increasingly realistic in recent weeks, amid concerns that a number of England's senior players - in particular multi-format players such as Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and Mark Wood - would be reluctant to head straight from the T20 World Cup in the UAE to Australia, and spend up to four months away from their young families.

Several former England captains have expressed their reservations about the tour taking place in such circumstances, most recently Andrew Strauss , who captained England's last victorious Ashes tour in 2010-11, and said this week it would be "unrealistic" to expect the players to tolerate such lengthy enforced absences.

Harrison, however, in a briefing before the start of the second LV= Insurance Test between England and India at Lord's , insisted that the ECB's "people first" policy would remain intact in spite of the "critical" importance of an Ashes tour to the finances of international cricket. He added that the lengths to which the board had gone to ensure a smooth passage for this summer's series, including representations to the Prime Minister's Office to enable India's families to travel, was proof that the sport's hotline to government was open, and that the relevant authorities were listening.

"Managing player welfare, keeping players safe and with their families near and around, has been a real key theme through this pandemic," Harrison said. "We've taken the view that people come first, and we will continue to take that approach as we continue to navigate this crisis for as long as it takes.

"We are working very closely with Cricket…
Andrew Miller
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