England bowler Stuart Broad has fired back at Australian counterpart Mitchell Starc as the pair's slanging match ahead of the Ashes continues. Broad had prompted a decisive response from Starc after he suggested earlier in May that the last Ashes series, which Australia hosted, was 'void' due to the visitors having to go through two weeks of quarantine amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Starc responded to Broad's suggestion last week, noting that unlike most Australian travellers at the time, who were confined to a hotel room for two weeks upon arrival, that the England team had been allowed to bring their families with them and have the run of a Gold Coast resort, including access to a pool and golf course. England were also permitted to train at Metricon Stadium in the weeks leading up to the first match of the series.
While there was no doubt the pandemic did affect the series, with then England coach Chris Silverwood forced to miss one Test after testing positive for the virus, Starc said it was a stretch to suggest England's quarantine had been a significant factor in Australia's 4-0 whitewash. However, as the Ashes draws ever closer, Broad wasn't about to take that response lying down.
He took to Twitter to chide Australia by pointing out that they didn't play a single Test match overseas for the majority of the pandemic era. Australia didn't play an overseas Test between the 2019 Ashes series in England and their 2022 tour of Pakistan.
“How many Test matches did Starcy play away from home during Covid?" Broad said in an Instagram comment. "Trying to do the maths on it. Zero wasn’t it?”
Australia had been scheduled to play a series in South Africa in 2021, but withdrew citing safety concerns. However it hasn't been just Starc to bite back at Broad's comments.
Last week, Nathan Lyon also rejected suggestions that the series didn't count. He told Wide World of Sports that Broad was simply playing some mind games ahead of the series.
“It was definitely a 4-0 victory to Australia,” Lyon said. “At the end of the day we should be really grateful and really humble in what we’re able to do … even thought it was in Covid times.
“They were still out here in Australia, which is probably the best country in the world. Pretty poor from Stuart, but he’s probably just trying to get under our skin.”
Aussie players weigh in on Stuart Broad's bold statement
Former Australian skipper Steve Smith also chimed in, saying the pre-series banter was simply part of the fun. He argued that the circumstances were less than ideal for both teams, given the circumstances around the world at the time.
“We were all there and playing so it was a little bit odd, you know? He‘s a nice guy and loves throwing out some good banter, so it’s all part of it,” Smith said.
“It certainly wasn‘t ideal scenarios. But the whole world was going through it and we were in the middle of a pandemic, so we couldn’t really complain too much.
“We were actually out there being able to do what we love, so I don‘t really have much more to add to it.”
The 2021-22 Ashes series was nearly a failure to launch for a variety of reasons, with England threatening not to travel at all unless they were allowed to quarantine with family members, a concession that was eventually agreed upon. Though the coronavirus pandemic had threatened the viability of the series on a number of other fronts, Starc said Broad's suggestion made a mockery of the various concessions the travelling party had for their quarantine.
“But in my mind I don’t class that as a real Ashes. The definition of Ashes cricket is elite sport with lots of passion and players at the top of their game," Broad said earlier in May.
“Nothing about that series was high level performance because of the Covid restrictions. The training facilities, the travel, not being able to socialise. I’ve written it off as a void series.”
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