England stars questioned over desire to take on "ultimate test" at the Ashes

Sir Ian Botham has questioned the desire of some England players to take on the challenge of an Ashes series.

After weeks of conjecture as to whether the series would go ahead given the strict quarantine protocols for international arrivals in Australia, an agreement has reportedly been struck which will see Joe Root's side go Down Under for the five-Test event.

England players were worried about the potential curbs on themselves and loved ones, but after talks with Cricket Australia it now appears the series will go ahead as planned.

However, legendary all-rounder Beefy says his bags would have been packed a long while ago, and admitted his concerns ahead of cricket's most famous battle.

“It’s the ultimate test and – I don’t know – I start to wonder maybe if some of these guys don’t fancy the ultimate test," he told The Telegraph. "You have to start to worry about it.

“Playing for England is the ultimate. To play Test cricket for England is the ultimate and to play against Australia in Australia – and win – is magnificent.

“Do you think we should perhaps stop talking in the negative? Because I get a bit fed up. I’ve had two years of negativity. ‘40 million people are going to die of this pandemic’. No. Wrong.

“I just wish that we could actually put a positive spin on something and my positive spin is: let’s get out there, let’s play what we do best, and let’s see if we can beat the best in their own back yard. Because Australia don’t lose very often in their own back yard.

“I suggest it’s a challenge. And, if I was in their boots, I’d already have my bags packed.”

Botham is famed for his heroics in the 1981 Ashes series, when his destructive innings of 149 in England's second innings at Headingley set up one of the most famous comebacks in sport.

Bob Willis took 8-43 to skittle the Aussies for just 111 and give the hosts a famous 18-run victory having been 227 runs behind on first innings.

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