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Dom Bess 'would never turn Ashes down' as England players head for talks

Australia's strict Covid-19 restrictions raise prospect of senior players' withdrawals

Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller
Dom Bess, the Yorkshire and England offspinner, has said that the prospect of being selected for his maiden Ashes tour this winter is something he "would never, ever turn down", amid concerns that a number of England's senior players may be reluctant to commit to the tour due to Australia's strict Covid-19 restrictions.
England's Test players are expected to seek clarity this week over the Ashes arrangements, with the series due to begin in Brisbane on December 8 before concluding six weeks later in Perth on January 18. With England's multi-format players likely to head straight to Australia from the T20 World Cup in the UAE, the final of which takes place on November 14, it means that those players with young families, such as Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler, are likely to undergo several months of separation.
Michael Vaughan, the former England captain, wrote in his Telegraph column on Wednesday that in the event families were unable to join the touring party, Cricket Australia "either have to delay the Ashes by a year or the series will go ahead and be a farce with an under-strength England side".
However, Bess - who turned 24 last week, and who admitted earlier this season that he had begun to "hate cricket" after enduring a tough tour of India last winter - insisted that, at this early stage of his career, with no family commitments to distract him from his cricket ambitions, he wouldn't hesitate to travel if selected.
"It gives me goosebumps talking about it," Bess said. "It is the pinnacle. Just watching the 2005 Ashes and then being at school and staying up all night to watch the 2010-11 when Cooky [Alastair Cook] scored hundred after hundred. That is pinnacle of the career - everyone thinks about it.
"It is a tough ask," he added. "Obviously I don't know what will be happening about Australia and their regulations - but I think if your name was on the ticket and you were going to an Ashes series as a 24 year old, a young lad, you would never ever turn that down.
"I think it would be very tough leaving family and supporters at home, but it is an Ashes series away from home - something you dream of, playing against Australia in Australia and looking to win there. Certainly you wouldn't turn that down. I don't think anyone who dreams of doing that would be able to turn that down."
Bess has been named in England's 17-player squad for the first two Tests against India, at Trent Bridge and Lord's next month, and while Jack Leach is likely to be England's first-choice spinner at this stage of the series, he is feeling upbeat about making a return to the Test bubble, with the return of crowds likely to make a big difference to the team environment, compared to the behind-closed-doors experience in 2020.
"It is so good to have fans back in the ground," he said. "You look at these Hundred games, it's been amazing. But with bubbles, it was very taxing by the end of it. At the start of last summer we went to Southampton, up to Manchester, back to Southampton … we didn't see anyone, no one in the crowd, empty stadiums, then we had a bit of a break, then straight to Sri Lanka, then India.
"Obviously, I am only one of the Test specialists, but you look at the one-day and T20 guys, and you can understand why people get burnt out and mentally fatigued, and how much it has an impact on your actual game.
"That was something I had to learn to try and deal with during India," he added. "I was mentally tired and physically tired by the end of it, because you'd play or not play, go back to your room, do nothing, then next day get the bus to the ground, do your work, go back to the hotel … day in, day out.
"It will be a bit easier being at home, knowing you are in England, knowing you are two or three hours away from family. But most importantly, it will be so good to see the fans back in. I was there at [Edgbaston] when England played Pakistan, and to see the place thumping was really good.
"I think it will be different - we have learned how to cope with it and, fingers crossed, we are on the way out of it in terms of strict bubbles. You have to cope and find some strategies."
Earlier in the summer, Buttler admitted that winning the Ashes "would be a huge challenge, especially when you are accustomed to being able to take your family", while Kevin Pietersen, another former England captain, suggested that it would be "utter madness" for players to be separated from their families for four months.
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Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket