Chris Woakes believes Ashes sledging will avoid Rafiq and Paine crises

Chris Woakes has insisted England’s and Australia’s recent off-field scandals will be off-limits when it comes to sledging out in the middle during the Ashes.

While the tourists have seen their preparations largely overshadowed by the allegations of racism at Yorkshire from Azeem Rafiq, their hosts will be led by a new Test captain in Pat Cummins after the emergence of Tim Paine’s past indiscretions in text messages. According to Woakes, one of the more mild-mannered cricketers on the international circuit, the seriousness of both matters should ensure that neither side looks to bring them up when the inevitable verbals fly during the heat of battle.

“No, they definitely aren’t [trivial subjects],” said Woakes. “What’s happened around both camps, a lot of those issues are personal. Cricket is played best when that sort of stuff is left to the side and you let your skills do the talking.

“An Ashes series always raises that rivalry between England and Australia. In my experience of playing in three Ashes series, I don’t think it’s overstepped the line once when I’ve been around. I don’t see it being any different. The cricket is always hard fought and hopefully it’s a great series to watch.”

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