Thu, Apr 23, 2009 - Page 18 News List

WAGS to get special pre-Ashes treatment

AP , MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

The wives and girlfriends of Australia’s elite cricketers have been invited to a pre-Ashes training camp at a beach resort in a program designed to reduce the stresses on long-distance relationships during the prolonged tour to England.

“It is uncharted territory,” Cricket Australia operations manager Michael Brown told yesterday’s the Age newspaper. “We are in an unprecedented period of playing cricket and we are conscious of the number of new players into the team and the number of new partners, young families, newly married players.”

“It is a great opportunity for us to take a more holistic approach to welfare, management, relationships and [to] work with some experts,” Brown said.

Wives and families have traveled with Australian players on past tours, but never have been so heavily involved in a training camp.

“This is not just about taking the girls up to the camp and talking to them. It’s about helping the families spend some more time together before their husbands leave again,” Australian Cricketers’ Association chief Paul Marsh told the Age. “It’s a small part of a more comprehensive program.”

The Australian team has been in almost constant match mode since October in India, Australia and South Africa. The limited-overs squad was starting a five-match ODI series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates yesterday. The Twenty20 World Cup in England in June will be followed by the five-Test Ashes series against the English.

Skipper Ricky Ponting, Mike Hussey and strike bowler Mitchell Johnson have been rested from the Pakistan series to prevent fatigue and give them some rest and relaxation time with family and friends.

Other players such as Brett Lee, who hasn’t played since the end of last year after undergoing ankle surgery, are being held back from the international arena to ensure their fitness.

Lee was given compassionate leave to skip a series in India last year after his marriage broke down.

The camp next month on Queensland state’s Sunshine Coast will involve regular training as well as sessions for the players and their partners run by relationship counselors.

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