Bombshell report reveals fat shaming, drinking in England camp
A bombshell report into England’s disastrous Ashes campaign has revealed worrying details about the preparation, culture and performance that culminated in a 4-0 drubbing.
The tourists saved their worst for last, collapsing in humiliating fashion to cough up the final Test in Hobart inside three days. They failed to pass 300 at any stage of the series and serious questions are being asked about the need to blow up the structure of English cricket and start again.
A damning insight into the tour from hell by English cricket writer Nick Hoult for The Telegraph outlined the issues around quarantine that hampered the team’s ability to prepare for the series — including inclement weather and lack of practice matches resulting in more indoor than outdoor training — and put the spotlight on poor selections.
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The report outlines angst with particularly invasive Covid testing procedures, especially in Sydney, where a more uncomfortable swab was required as the virus threatened to derail the series.
As outlined in The Telegraph: “Some players refused to do it, others did it and then made a stand saying they would not let their partners and young children go through the same procedure. It led to the biggest row between players and management of the whole tour and was only resolved by the resumption of normal PCR testing for those who refused.”
The report goes on to detail fitness issues within the camp. “One player refused to take part in the skin-fold test — a gauge of body fat — and, when pressed, accused England of trying to fat shame him. The test was never carried out,” Hoult writes.
“Fitness levels clearly dipped for some players, who started the tour in good shape but appeared to let that side drift as the tour went on. (Ollie) Robinson’s conditioning was an issue from the first Test, when he spent time off the field, but became a recurring theme in every game.”
The report says Ollie Robinson played golf on a day off in Hobart despite carrying a shoulder injury that was threatening his place in the starting XI for the last Test.
During the match in Hobart, England bowling coach Jon Lewis alluded to Robinson’s fitness issues after the seamer left the field and couldn’t come back to bowl, suffering from what was described as back stiffness.
“It (fitness) is something he (Robinson) needs to improve. He’s got a record of playing a lot of games of county cricket,” Lewis said. “Playing international cricket is a higher intensity and you play all year around. He’s got to get used to understanding what it takes to be a full-time, year-round international cricketer.
“That’s something he is going to have to deal with. It is one of his things he really needs to work on.”
The Telegraph also reports of concerns around a drinking culture in the squad before Covid protocols were tightened later in the series, while players were allegedly not always on the same page when it came to team management and tactics involving spinner Jack Leach — who was belted in Brisbane and axed for the second Test, despite the Adelaide Oval curator predicting the pitch would turn.
“Some senior players felt left out of discussions over tactics and another was angered to learn he had been dropped after reading it in the press. Another felt he had not been given enough time to prepare for a Test, learning only 48 hours before that he would be playing,” Hoult reports.
“The tactics for Leach also caused bemusement among the squad. Before the Brisbane Test it was agreed England would be defensive when Leach came on for the first time, knowing Australia would be scenting blood. Players were incredulous when Root brought the field in and attacked, with Leach being taken apart by Australia’s top order. It took him weeks to get over and affected selection for Adelaide.”