Rob Key says Tim Paine comments “completely irrelevant” to status of upcoming Ashes tour

Former England batter Rob Key has said that Tim Paine’s comments about the upcoming Ashes series are “completely irrelevant”, and believes that he has no say as to whether the tour goes ahead or not.

The viability of the tour has been questioned in recent weeks, with the ECB and England players and management reviewing potential quarantine restrictions upon arrival into the country.

A number of England players have refused to publicly commit to touring. The ECB stated that discussions would take place in the coming days as to whether England would make the trip.

Australia Test captain Paine told radio station SEN Hobart last week that the tour would go ahead “with or without” top England stars, such as England captain Joe Root.

He said: “The Ashes are going ahead. The first Test is on December 8 – whether Joe is here or not.

“It’ll be worked out above us and then they’ll have a choice whether to get on that plane or not. No-one is forcing any England player to come. That’s the beauty of the world we live in – you have a choice. If you don’t want to come, don’t come.”

Key on Paine comments

Key – who works as a pundit for Sky Sports – has described Paine’s comments as “completely irrelevant” to the situation.

Speaking on the Hussain and Key Cricket Show, he said: “Tim Paine has clearly been told, Cricket Australia have said to him, ‘You put some pressure on this England team now. We have to make sure we are doing everything in our power to make sure that England come over, and put as much pressure on England to come over.’

“But England hold all the cards here as far as I’m concerned. Cricket Australia has to make sure that it’s a palatable thing for the England players to have to do.

“Tim Paine can spout off as much nonsense as he wants, it’s completely irrelevant. As far as I’m concerned, the captain has absolutely no say in whether or not that tour will go ahead.

“It’s slightly different for Joe Root and his players. Tim Paine can say whatever he wants, I think he’s a small player in the game.”

The Ashes is scheduled to begin on December 8. The first Test due to played in Brisbane.

Sky Sports have reported this morning that the tour is now expected to go ahead. They add that local reports suggest that players’ families will be able to quarantine at a resort in Melbourne – and that they will not be confined to their rooms.

The report also says that the quarantine period for arrivals into Australia could be reduced from 14 days to seven from mid-November onwards.

If England reach the final of the upcoming men’s T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates, they would participate in that game on November 14. That date is 24 days before the Ashes is due to begin.

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