England’s Woakes says leave pre-Ashes scandals off the field

Publish: 5:16 PM, December 2, 2021 | Update: 5:16:PM, December 2, 2021

BRISBANE, Australia,  – England paceman Chris Woakes called Thursday for the racism and sexting scandals that have overshadowed preparations for the opening Test against Australia not to be used for sledging during the series.

Australia skipper Tim Paine quit over a text-message scandal while English cricket has been engulfed in claims of institutional racism. Woakes said he was confident both sides would let the cricket do the talking when play starts at the Gabba ground next Wednesday.

“I think what’s happened in both camps, a lot of the issues are personal and cricket is played best when that sort of stuff is left to the side and we let the skills do the talking, which I’m sure will happen,” he told journalists in Brisbane.

“Whatever goes on the field, goes on the field, and the Ashes raises that rivalry,” he added. “But in my experience, playing in three Ashes series, it’s not overstepped the line once when I’ve been around.

“I don’t see it being any different. I’m sure the cricket will be hard- fought, as it always is, and will be good to watch.” Preparations for both sides have also been undermined by rain with England’s three-day practice match last week washed out, bar 29 overs.

No play was possible on the opening two days of their four-day clash this week, but they finally got some red-ball action at Peter Burge Oval on Thursday. England opted to bowl against the touring England Lions, giving Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes the chance to get a feel for the conditions.

They all sent down four overs, but were wicketless at lunch with the Lions reaching 77 without loss. It was Stokes’ first taste of action since taking a break from cricket in July to deal with a finger injury and mental health issues. In a sign that Haseeb Hameed could open at the Gabba, he was included in the England team alongside Rory Burns. His rival Zak Crawley was unbeaten on 39 for the Lions and Alex Lees not-out 35.