England receive Ashes boost after Cricket Australia propose ‘better than expected’ tour conditions amid concerns over quarantine rules
- England are concerned they could be without family for months on Ashes tour
- Australia have strict quarantine rules and are currently unwilling to relax them
- Negotiations are expected to have concluded before October 4
Confidence is growing that mass withdrawals from the Ashes by leading England players will be avoided after Cricket Australia shared proposed tour conditions with the ECB.
Although the information received on Friday’s deadline has thus far only been shared among the governing body’s executive, and was being digested this weekend, one source suggested the guidelines were ‘better than expected’.
England’s players received emails advising them that they would be briefed on the details in 10 days.
England are currently set to face months without family ahead of their upcoming Ashes tour
Negotiations are expected to have concluded before October 4, the date upon which the players will be asked to clarify availability. A squad will then be selected and announced ahead of England’s white-ball team travelling to the United Arab Emirates for the Twenty20 World Cup on October 8.
The ECB — whose dialogue with the BCCI to rearrange this month’s cancelled Manchester Test for 2022 continues — already have a picture of the conditions under which their own players are prepared to tour following a written consultation conducted by the Team England Player Partnership.
It’s understood that a compromise on the quarantine rules imposed for families is key to the strength of squad England send down under. Although players have come to terms with their partners and children having to adhere to the 14-day hotel periods stipulated by the Australian government, they would like the freedoms they expect to receive themselves extended to their loved ones.
The ECB have prioritised getting families on the trip and those who want to can be there for the duration, which opens the prospect of relations of multi-format players being on the road with England teams from the second week of October to the latter half of January.
Eoin Morgan’s men will be accommodated in the team bubble at The Palm hotel in Dubai
Several wives and girlfriends will be in tow when Eoin Morgan’s men head to Dubai to try to unite international cricket’s two white-ball belts next month. They will be accommodated in the team bubble at The Palm hotel.
These are the kind of details the England players hope can be replicated in Australia. Ideally, they would like to be free to visit restaurants, play golf and leave their hotel to venture to ‘green zones’.
However, there’s a lingering concern in the camp at what might happen in the light of a positive Covid case being recorded within their party. They fear it will lead to an immediate return to the room-only living.
Restrictions currently vary state- to-state and greater freedoms should be enjoyed at the start of the tour in Queensland and South Australia, which are almost free of Covid. It’s a different story in Victoria and New South Wales, where infections are higher.
Any changes to the Ashes itinerary — for example, Western Australia not relaxing its two weeks’ quarantine on even domestic arrivals — will be in venue only with the Test dates set in stone.
Meanwhile, an example of the complexity of organising top-level sport in Australia was provided yesterday when the England women’s netball team was forced to pull out of its tour.