This winter’s Ashes series is expected to go ahead as scheduled after positive talks were held between the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and Cricket Australia.
There had been concerns over entry requirements, quarantine arrangements and bubble conditions for England’s touring squad, but it is hoped a resolution can be reached this week, the Press Association reported. Aaron Finch, Australia’s one-day captain, suggested that talks have progressed well and “the quarantine conditions sound really positive”.
Since the start of the pandemic Australia has imposed strict quarantine rules to curb the spread of Covid-19. The difficulties presented by coronavirus restrictions have put England’s tour in doubt and one of the main concerns for players had been quarantine arrangements for the families, PA added.
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Earlier this week the ECB had warned that the 11-week tour was not a done deal as it pushed to secure the best possible conditions for the players. The Guardian reported that the Ashes will only go ahead if enough leading England players tour. The estimated £106m value to Cricket Australia also means the series is likely to happen even if one or two England players pull out.
‘The ultimate test’
Last week England captain Joe Root said he was “desperate” to skipper the team in the Ashes series, but wasn’t ready to commit because of uncertainty about arrangements in Australia, The Guardian reported. This prompted Aussie Test skipper Tim Paine to declare that the Ashes will still go ahead “whether Joe Root is here or not”.
After negotiations Root has now committed to leading England in the Ashes this winter and a deal has been struck that is likely to see a full-strength squad travel. The only potential exception is wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler. He is “still wavering, having publicly expressed reservations at being apart from his family for so long”, The Telegraph reported.
Finch sympathised with the situation for the tourists, but Ian Botham has questioned the desire of some of the England squad.
Botham, one of England’s greatest Ashes heroes, told The Telegraph that if he was in the shoes of the current players he would “already have my bags” packed for Down Under. “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,” he said. “You have to start to worry about it.”
Ashes 2021-2022 Test fixtures
- 8-12 December 2021: 1st Test at the Gabba, Brisbane
- 16-20 December 2021: 2nd Test at the Adelaide Oval, Adelaide
- 26-30 December 2021: 3rd Test at the MCG, Melbourne
- 5-9 January 2022: 4th Test at SCG, Sydney
- 14-18 January: 5th Test at the Optus Stadium, Perth
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