Melbourne: Australian cricketers’ wives and girlfriends have been allowed to join their partners for the Ashes series this summer, a decision which starkly contrasts with England’s policy of banning WAGs for the first six weeks of the tour beginning November 25 in Adelaide.
In a decision by Cricket Australia (CA), the Australian players will be able to have their families stay with them at the team’s accommodation whenever they want, an Australian newspaper reported.
The decision came after CA commissioned research from relationship and social experts which revealed having WAGs on tour eased the strain on family life and was a positive move for harmony.
But the issue has been a major flashpoint in the past - primarily during Australia’s disappointing 2005 Ashes loss in England.
CA is convinced the benefits outweigh the negatives so WAGs such as Jessica Bratich (Mitchell Johnson’s fiancee), Lee Furlong (Shane Watson’s wife) and Rianna (Ricky Ponting’s wife) will be regular fixtures during the Ashes.
Australia’s players will be staying at family-friendly apartment-style accommodation in every venue and the WAGs can stay as long as they pay for incidental costs such as breakfast and room service.
“We have talked to a broad range of experts and decided this is a very good thing,” a CA insider said.
“Cricket is an unusual sport, the players in the Australian team can be away from their home either training, playing or travelling for as many as 320 days a year if they play all three forms of cricket.
“They have to have some semblance of a normal family life and CA is very supportive of the work-life balance,” the person added.
Incidentally, last month, England cricket team’s director Andy Flower had barred the players from seeing their wives and girlfriends for the first six weeks of the Ashes tour in Australia.
England captain Andrew Strauss had insisted that the tourists have made the right decision to make Australia a WAG-free zone for at least the opening two Ashes Tests.
It is the first time the England players’ families have been barred from being part of a tour since England visited Zimbabwe and New Zealand in 1996-97.
England’s ban appears to have been sparked by the fact that their WAGs were in Australia throughout England’s humiliating 5-0 Ashes whitewash by Australia in 2006-07.