Family arrivals key to summer Ashes tour

·3-min read

England players are likely to have their families with them in Melbourne for Christmas if this summer's Ashes series goes ahead.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) will decide this week if the tour will proceed.

A marquee event on the Australian sporting calendar, the Ashes series is worth an estimated $200 million in revenue to the hosts.

Cricket Australia is set for further meetings with the ECB after chief executive Nick Hockley recently addressed concerns from English players.

Following a meeting on Tuesday, the decision will be left in the hands of the England players who will inform the ECB if they will make themselves available for selection.

That decision is expected to be made before the weekend, with the ECB warning it will only travel if it has a squad befitting the significance of the series.

Chief among the concerns of England's playing group is the requirements on families - and the possibility of snap lockdowns in different states.

England no doubt have the end of last summer's India tour front of mind when the final two Tests were played in a tight bubble following an outbreak in Sydney.

But CA has attempted to assure the ECB that Australia's increased vaccination rates means conditions and government responses are changing.

There was also positive movement on the family front, with the understanding they would now be able to join players.

Families will need to complete quarantine, with the initial group expected to arrive on the Gold Coast with players where exemptions would be given for training.

However CA is confident that the increasing vaccine rate will allow a second group to join the tour before Christmas.

It would mean families can now be with the players for the holiday period without having to spend months away from home.

Even if England does agree to tour, officials still face the challenge of getting the series played as scheduled.

Perth is slated to hold the fifth Test, five days after the Sydney fixture.

However, borders are set to remain closed between NSW and Western Australia, and questions linger on how the Optus Stadium match would be able to proceed.

CA is steadfast in its belief that the Perth Test can go ahead as planned.

The Western Australia government allowed some AFL teams to play while in quarantine during the 2021 season.

Players would also be double vaccinated and regularly tested, aiding their cause.

Alternatively, that match could be switched to the east coast or Hobart in a move championed by Shane Warne on Tuesday.

It comes with November's Hobart Test against Afghanistan postponed due to the Taliban's stance on women's sport.

If England pulls out, it would leave Australia staring at the prospect of not having its first men's international Test since 1971-72, when a rest of the world team replaced South Africa.

Several other nations are already scheduled to play elsewhere this season, with Sri Lanka, West Indies and Ireland the only other teams with a free window.

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