WAGs invited in Australia's pre-Ashes camp

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/a/ashes.jpg' class='caption'> CA has invited wives and girlfriends to a team camp before the players leave for England where they will play non-stop for nearly four months.

Updated: April 22, 2009 06:49 IST
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In an effort to prevent Brett Lee's marriage breakup-like incidents due to long overseas tours, Cricket Australia has invited wives and girlfriends to a team camp before the players leave for England where they will play non-stop for nearly four months.

"It is uncharted territory. 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," said CA operations manager Michael Brown.

The camp, to be held in Sunshine Coast next month, will be attended by all 25 CA contracted players and members of Twenty20 World Cup squad. It will comprise training sessions, planning and contract meetings, and will involve the partners in sessions run by relationships experts on how to cope with the pitfalls of life on the road.

Cricketers who play all forms of the game will be in England for almost four months to play ICC Twenty20 World Championships (June 5-21) followed by five-match Ashes series (July 1-August 24) and seven one-dayers (September 4-20).

"It is a great opportunity for us to take a more holistic approach to welfare, management, relationships and (to) work with some experts," Brown was quoted as saying by 'The Age'.

CA is mindful of the toll taken on relationships, following the breakdown of Brett Lee's marriage last year and the off-field problems of Andrew Symonds.

The need to balance touring and family life has been a burning issue for CA and Australian Cricketers Association, which said the joint effort to look after families was "one of the biggest issues" in negotiations for a new pay deal.

ACA boss Paul Marsh said both the sides were committed to helping players and their families cope with the stresses of long absences.

"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.

It's a small part of a more comprehensive program," Marsh said.

The heavy schedule has forced Australia to rest three of its best players -- Ricky Ponting, Mitchell Johnson and Mike Hussey -- from the current ODI series against Pakistan to ensure they are fresh for the Twenty20 World Cup in June and the Ashes.

The camp will be a far cry from the rugged boot camp in outback Queensland, masterminded by former coach John Buchanan, which kick-started the campaign to win back the Ashes urn in 2006-07.

Brown also said during the Ashes tour, players will be encouraged to have their partners with them.

Though Brown acknowledged not everyone would always get along, he said, "They are always welcome."

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