28th November 2020



James Anderson welcomes prospect of England’s bio-bubble break

James Anderson says he would welcome a return home if England’s players are allowed to break free of their biosecure bubble between Test series.

The ECB are considering a proposal to allow their players to leave the team camp that they have occupied for nearly a month, and visit their families between the end of the current series against West Indies and the start of the first Test against Pakistan on August 5.

“I’ve heard whispers of it,” said Anderson from the Sky Sports player zone during the fourth day of the second Test against West Indies, from which he is being rested. “Nothing confirmed.

“Obviously it’d be nice if we can get home for a few days in between the series but, yeah, at the moment we’ve not had anything confirmed so we’ll just keep our fingers crossed on that one.”

Any break from the biosecure arrangements is likely to be for a maximum of three nights and would be subject to approval from the UK government and the Pakistan Cricket Board.

It is understood that Pakistan would not object to the England players being allowed to return home for a few days before their series and would not seek a release for their own squad to emerge from their training bubble.

Several members of Pakistan’s touring squad tested positive for Covid-19 before leaving their home country, which has been hit hard by the pandemic. All served an isolation period and returned negative tests before travelling to the UK.

Anderson said while a break would be welcome, he could understand if it didn’t happen. “Yeah, it’s been different, but it’s not… I can’t say it’s been hard because we’re in a hotel, you know, we’ve got nice surroundings,” he said.

“We’re looked after well. And yes, we’ve had to do things slightly differently, but we’re getting to play cricket which is, you know, amazing really after the last few months. So we’re just grateful for that.

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“If we can get home for a few days in between games then brilliant. If not, we’ll just have to knuckle down and realise it’ll be another three or four weeks through that Pakistan series before we can get home properly.”

The third Test against West Indies is due to finish at Emirates Old Trafford on July 28 and the first of three Tests against Pakistan begins in Manchester on August 5.

Players would have to undergo Covid-19 testing upon reuniting as a squad, possibly on August 1, which allows only five days between leaving the outside world and playing a match.

Jofra Archer, who made an unauthorised visit to his home after the first Test against West Indies, was omitted from the second as a result. He is currently serving a five-day isolation period in his hotel room at Old Trafford.

Archer went for a run on the outfield early on Sunday morning wearing gloves and a face mask with team staff watching on. The ECB and Cricket West Indies gave approval for Archer to schedule a bowling session with England team staff in the nets later in the day.

Archer’s omission meant England entered the second Test with three fresh seamers in Stuart Broad, Sam Curran and Chris Woakes, with Anderson and Mark Wood resting. Anderson admitted he had pulled up a little sore but was feeling good.

“There was some stiffness there but to be expected really,” he said. “I think most of the bowlers had stiffness, after such a long layoff, and then bowling 40 overs in that game there’s bound to be some sort of stiffness but feels good now after a few days resting.”

Anderson said was unsure which of the remaining Tests he would play this summer, but said four of the total of six matches against West Indies and Pakistan was reasonable.

“There’s no plan, as such, as to what I’ll play for the summer,” he said. “Similarly with the other bowlers… I’ve been honest, I think the bowlers getting through four out of six would be pretty good.

“Four out of six Test matches after a long break, and six Test matches that are in a really short space of time, I think that’s probably what the hope is for both the coaches and medical team.”

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