Sydney : The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has reportedly asked its white-ball cricketers competing in the Big Bash League (BBL) in Australia to leave the country as soon as possible in the wake of the evolving COVID-19 situation.The ECB’s instructions have reportedly come as it wants to save England’s limited-overs tour of the West Indies beginning on January 22 at Bridgetown. England are scheduled to play five T20I in Bridgetown, which will be followed by a three-Test series in March.There have been a number of COVID-19 cases in the BBL, especially in Melbourne Stars which has reported a total of 18 cases among its players and support staff.”Among the players asked to return to the UK are Saqib Mahmood, who has been on standby for the Test squad in recent weeks, George Garton, Reece Topley, Sam Billings, James Vince and Tymal Mills,” a report in The Cricketer said on Sunday.
“Anyone picked for the five-match (T20I) series, scheduled to begin in Barbados on January 22, is expected to return to the UK by January 7. In most cases, that will reduce their stays in Australia by at least a week,” added the report.While Mahmood and Billings were selected to play for Sydney Thunder on Sunday, Mills appeared for Perth Scorchers against Adelaide Strikers. Another England cricketer, Chris Jordan, had already flown back.The BBL organisers had confirmed in December last year that England players on national duty would be released by their respective clubs if the ECB needed their services.”The six English players currently playing in the KFC BBL who have been selected for England’s T20 International series against the West Indies will be returning to the UK by January 7,” the BBL organisers said.”CA thanks the ECB and the English players for their support of our summer of cricket, including men’s and women’s Ashes series and the participation of English players in the BBL. The returning players are Sam Billings, George Garton, Saqib Mahmood, Tymal Mills, Reece Topley and James Vince. Clubs will confirm their departure dates via squad releases and social channels,” Cricket Australia said.