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Ian Botham, the most celebrated English scourge of the Aussies, has questioned the desire of some of his 2021 successors to play in the upcoming Ashes, suggesting that they "don't fancy the ultimate test".
The five-Test series is in doubt due to the strict coronavirus restrictions in Australia, with captain Joe Root one of the players who has yet to commit to going on the tour.
Discussions have been held between the ECB and Cricket Australia over entry requirements and quarantine and bubble conditions England will face on tour, with the players set to make a decision by the end of the week.
But serial Ashes winner Botham believes some England players could be hiding behind the COVID-19 issue.
"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," Botham, 65, told the Daily 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.
"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 see if we can beat the best in their own backyard.' Because Australia don't lose very often in their own backyard.
"I suggest it's a challenge and if I was in their boots, I'd already have my bags packed."
Australia currently hold the urn after a 2-2 draw in England in 2019, with the first Test due to start in Brisbane on December 8.