Tim Paine started the war of words when England were negotiating for quarantine relaxations during the Ashes tour, by saying “no one is forcing” England to tour. “If you don’t want to come, don’t come". It escalated pretty quickly with many former players criticizing Paine for his insensitive remark, especially when Australia haven't played a single away Test since the onset of the pandemic. With now England naming a full-strength squad after Cricket Australia's verbal promise, they are set to honour the tour but that hasn't stopped James Anderson to hit back at the Aussie skipper.
“It is dangerous to start talking like that, especially when we already have one player [Ben Stokes] missing because he is looking after his mental health,” Anderson said. “I get it that this is an Ashes series and we are going to have this bit of pantomime stuff away from the cricket, but let’s just keep it respectable," Anderson said, reported the Telegraph.
“It is important everyone knows what to expect when we get there,” Anderson said. “There is always a lot of hype and noise around the Ashes in the build-up to it. Making everyone aware of that and having ways of blocking it out are important. It is designed to distract us. There are always little things that crop up. That is inevitable but it is important we try to focus as much as we can on cricket. That is our job. Our job is not really to get involved in any off-field war of words. We have to focus on our jobs on the field and perform for our country.”
In what is a great news for England's campaign, Ben Stokes returned to the nets for the first time since July and with Ashes still over a month away, he has an opportunity to make it to the squad. However, Anderson stressed Chris Silverwood's statement of not rushing him back before he is fully ready.
“It was really exciting to see him in the nets. He obviously feels he is getting somewhere near to coming back, which is fantastic. Chris Silverwood said he is not going to rush him back and it is the same from the players’ point of view as well. We will be there to support him and whenever he is ready we will welcome him back with open arms.
"We saw in 2019 he is a match-winner with bat or ball and even in the field. He can turn matches by himself and have that special gift makes a massive difference to us. It would also have an effect on Australia when they see him in our team. It just makes them think slightly differently and helps balance our side. Whenever he is ready to come back he would make an amazing difference.”