England will not play in the Ashes series if a new memorandum of understanding between Cricket Australia and its players is not agreed.
The pay dispute has begun affecting tours since the expiration of the previous memorandum of understanding (MOU) at the end of June. The Australia A squad opted out of their tour to South Africa after it became apparent that a new deal would not be struck before their departure to South Africa.
An ECB spokesperson told ESPN Cricinfo that while the Ashes snub is ‘unthinkable’, it is not beyond of the realm of possibility.
When the idea of the Ashes not taking place first became apparent, Greg Hunt, the federal minister for sport in Australia said he would intervene, should the Ashes come under threat.
‘If it got to a last-minute situation, I suspect that we would offer to provide good officers brokering between the parties, but there’s six months between now and the Ashes,’ Hunt told ABC’s Insiders.
‘I do not see either the players or the administration returning to the late ’70s, where we had a second-rate team. The players love playing for Australia, Cricket Australia knows this is not just fundamental to sport, it is part of our national identity,’ he added.
The ECB has said that no other bilateral series will take place in the event that the Ashes doesn’t happen.
A final decision is expected in October when the England Women are scheduled to embark on an Australian tour of their own.
The first Ashes Test is slated for 23 November.